Monday, January 08, 2007

The Last Chapter Has Yet to Be Written

Chapter 1

Ismael and his wife, Rosa, worked butchering, cleaning and selling fresh chickens in their smelly, crowded stall at the main market in Tepic. Had it not been for Ismael’s habit of carousing and drinking on weekends with his soccer buddies, their meager income would have been adequate to provide themselves and their 3 small children with basic needs and a few luxuries.

In our first year in Tepic, Kirt and I usually went to town together on market day; while I negotiated prices on fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs, Kirt, with toddler Benji strapped in his backpack, went about sharing tracts, making friends and inviting vendors and shoppers to Bible studies in our home. At first, we were a novelty, and everybody competed for business from “the gringos”; though few would acknowledge their need for what we were “marketing.” At last, one day, Kirt’s sincere, enormous smile, perseverance and the prodding of the Holy Spirit broke through the ice with the “pollero,” Ismael, and he invited the three of us to his humble home for coffee and sweet bread. Within weeks of that visit, the first of many, he and Rosa placed their faith in Jesus’ payment for forgiveness of their sins; and that was the beginning of a continuous battle for them with the inevitable mockery and rejection that ensued from old friends and family members as they pursued their new life as children of God versus the force of darkness that had totally controlled them.

Though they exhibited slow evidence of spiritual growth, we continued weekly Bible studies with them until we returned to the States for our first furlough. When we came back to Tepic the following year, Kirt went straight to the market to look up our old friends, Ismael and Rosa. He was surprised to find Ismael’s brother in charge of the chicken stand, and he could hardly believe his ears when he heard that our friend, Ismael, had been bitten by a rabid dog 6 months prior and was dead within 3 weeks.

Ismael’s brothers absconded with the chicken business and refused to let Rosa work there. With 3 small children to support, she turned to the only option she could imagine, work in a cantina. We called on her repeatedly, but she refused our help, rejected our friendship, and requested that we not pursue our relationship further with her or her children. In time, her job exposed her to the most degrading level of sin, and as a consequence of her work, she was diagnosed with AIDS from which she died several years later, leaving the now-teenaged children, to fend for themselves.

Chapter 2

Karina, one of Ismael and Rosa’s 3 orphaned, teenaged children, met and fell in love with Tino, a young military man. Before long she discovered that she was pregnant, and her grandmother and 2 aunts, who were working illegally in California, sent for her. After her baby was born in the U.S., Karina and baby April returned to Tepic, and to Tino, to resume their tumultuous relationship. Such a disaster was their relationship that Tino was prompted to seek advice from his brother, Martín, who several years prior, as an adolescent, had given his life to Christ (That’s Pastor Martín, now; and that story is a novel’s worth of chapters in itself). Martín brought Karina and Tino to church with him, and both of them asked for forgiveness and gave their hearts to Jesus. They were married and now have two more children, Leonardo and Galilea.

Chapter 3

Tino and Karina, have struggled with their old natures and in their Christian walk, but they have persisted, and God continues to give them victory. They are faithful in bringing their family to church and to AWANA, and “baby” April (now 13 years old), Leonardo (11) and Galilea (8) have hidden much of God’s Word in their hearts.

This year, April (Ismael and Rosa’s granddaughter, whom they never knew) was selected to act the part of the Virgin Mary in our annual Christmas celebration drama. As she sang her solo with her whole heart and crystal-clear voice, “What child is this who laid to rest on Mary's lap is sleeping?...This, this is Christ the King…The King of kings, salvation brings; let loving hearts enthrone Him…” I could not help but reflect on the fitting together of puzzle pieces that has led to April’s dedication of her heart and life to Jesus, her Lord, whose earthly mother she depicted in the play. God writes true stories too sovereignly intertwined for us to imagine, and the last chapter has yet to be written.


At 1:21 PM, Blogger Em said...

I'm just kind of scanning over a bunch of these, but I'm so glad my eye was led to scan over the story of Abril's family.


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