Friday, April 21, 2006

At long last, the brothers were able to get together to write the “letter of request” required by The Seed Company in order for them to receive backing for the Old Testament translation in Huichol. I’ve never seen them struggle so much with something so simple. They were trying to think in Spanish then translate into Huichol. I told them to just think and write in Huichol, which would be best for Joe Grimes anyway as he will be relaying the petition to the proper channels! I hope it communicates what they communicated to me.

They told me that in their letter they identified themselves as a group of Huichol Christians who are grateful to God that He has provided them with the New Testament in their language. They have read, studied and applied God’s Word; however, in their studies, they see that Jesus often referred to the Scriptures, and they realize that His references are to the Old Testament, which they still don’t have in their language. Then the bite…they said that they need the complete Word of God. They are willing to work and sacrifice, and they asked for help in getting the Old Testament translated into their language.

The 4 names listed are only to prove that there are 4 who are willing to commit to the work, but there are many more, and they all agreed that some might be better than others. Emilio insisted on signing his Huichol name; he said Joe would know who he was better by that handle than “Emilio.” He will be working in Colorado until late August, and asked me to ask you if the orientation course offered in Oaxaca could be after that. Manuel, decided to go by “Manuel” because he and Emilio are Huichol “tocayos” (namesakes), and he didn’t want any confusion. Though Primitivo wasn’t there for the letter writing exercise, he had already offered his service. If this letter-writing activity is any indication of the seriousness of the translation job, we had better set aside the next 25 years for the task!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

March-April 2006

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 9:14

At times, the most significant events of a given month take a back seat in prayer updates. May that not be the case with this one. After our final AWANA club meeting before the 2-week break for Easter vacation, I invited my group of ten 10-year-olds to stay for an overnight campout at my house. We went on the compulsory nature hike, oohing and aahing at the hundreds of varieties of trees, leaves, flowers, seeds, birds, lizards/iguanas, and life we found in the dense, overrun jungle (a long-since-extinct water runoff channel and adjoining empty plot of property we’re still expecting God to provide for the Tepic church) in front of my house and adjacent to the church. We made Bible book marks with our collection of pressed flowers, leaves, and seeds. We planted a lime tree on the church property to do our part for ecology. We tied a required collection of semi-useless knots that I spent 3 hours researching on Internet the week before in order to fulfill the knot-tying requirement in our manual. Over an open fire in my backyard, we roasted hotdogs and ate them until nobody could stand another. We toasted, scorched, singed, charred and reduced to crispy globs all the marshmallows we could stomach.
Best of all, we sang songs about Jesus, we recited Bible verses, and they listened without stirring, to a story and object lesson I had prepared for them about the Resurrection of our Savior. As I prayed with them before shooing them off to their respective bedrolls, God impressed on me the possibility that Jonatán, Mishna, Andrea, David, Caleb, Luis, Josué, José Manuel, Juan Daniel, or Mariana could be, in the not too distant future, the “Pastor Martíns” or “Pastor Nachos” or the Sunday school teacher Eréns or Lorenas of the forthcoming generation of the Tepic church. What a privilege, mine; and what a responsibility! Please pray with me for these 10-year-old bundles of potential.

“Then they that gladly received His Word were baptized.” Acts 2:41

At last the long-anticipated and planned-for Easter week arrived, and it was a time of great rejoicing and thankfulness to our Father for more blessings than we ever dared to expect. More Huichol believers than we could count, along with several watchful observers from remote villages were present in the village of Zapote de Picachos. It was a week for which everyone had prepared and worked hard in order to share, serve, care, teach and learn, “and all that believed were together, and had all things common” (Acts 2:44), literally.
On Friday, we made the trek to the river for the baptismal celebration where 44 infant believers followed our Lord’s example. For these Huichol brothers and sisters, this symbolic act of identification with the one true Savior represents a complete severance from their traditional erroneous beliefs and resolute determination to follow Christ and endure whatever persecution that may produce; and that harassment for them is a given that they have opted to suffer. They have learned clearly that the purpose of this life is not “this life.”

Santiago, among the 44 Huichols who were baptized last Friday, gave testimony of his coming to Christ. He was born to the shaman of the village at Santa Catarina. As a young child, his father took him to a local cemetery and performed some kind of "hocus-pocus" (my words) ceremony there that had to do with an actual cadaver. From that time on, Santiago was possessed with super-natural powers. (I might add that though I am well aware that the power of the prince of darkness is a real thing; by nature, I am a skeptic when it comes to superstitions and evil powers, and generally I prefer to take the ostrich stance and not hear or think about it. Assimilating what I heard Friday is very difficult for me.) Santiago explained that he was able to perform many feats of “black-magic,” and as a result, villagers would come to him and his father to pay high prices for “favors.” He explained that his life was filled with constant voices and turmoil, and he never was able to sleep peacefully…UNTIL, he heard about and accepted Jesus Christ, the one true God, and the salvation He offers to those who will repent and receive His forgiveness. Santiago and his young wife, Gabriela, along with four others, believed during the weekend last month that pastors José and Manuel traveled to El Patroneño to teach the new believers from the village of Guásima del Caimán who had gone to work in the fields to raise money for transportation for everybody to the Easter-week celebration at Zapote de Picachos. Santiago "just happened" to be working there, too, and he stopped in to listen to the teaching. Santiago said that since he believed, he has lost all of his previous powers, but at last, he is in perfect peace. Santiago, the man in the blue Huichol shirt, the third in line of those being baptized, also shared that he explained his new-found faith to his father, the shaman; and he, too, wants to believe! Please pray with me that he will. If his father rejects, Santiago and Gabriela will be severely persecuted and probably forced out of their village. Thank you for praying for them.

And thank you for praying with and for me in this enormous task; it's certainly way above my head, but I love it. Again, as Kirt always concluded our prayer updates, “We are forever grateful for your love and care that allows us to be here sharing God’s love.”

Click here to see some additional slides of the Easter week festivities including the baptismal service at Zapote de Picachos.