Sunday, March 01, 2020

January/February 2020 - "for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."

Then children were brought to him … the disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 19:13-14

A heart in line with Jesus’ heart places a priority on children. They're important to Him. If we’re followers of Jesus, children will be important to us, as well.
More than 15 years ago, Pastor Martín’s brother invited a co-worker (military) to bring his little daughters to the Tepic church OANSA club. María and Lynethe were just four and five years old, and they cried every single Saturday when their dad, Armando, dropped them off at “Cubbies.” Finally, at long last, they realized how much they really loved coming to play games, hear stories from the Bible and hide God’s Word in their hearts, how much the leaders loved them, how much Jesus loves them, and that He gave His very life that they might be saved. Years have passed; the girls have grown in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and those He placed in their paths. They have fulfilled all of the requirements for every level of OANSA and leaders-in-training, and now they are dependable leaders, willing servants, and Sunday school teachers who train others. Their faithfulness, love for Jesus, and their determination to follow His perfect plan in their lives have spilled over on their parents, and they, too, have believed.

Their dad, Armando, no longer “drops them off,” but he also has been discipled and grown in grace. Pastor Nacho is teaching an adult Sunday school series, When the Church Was Young and Courageous. He was invited along with his family to the wedding of a young couple in Culiacán, and Nacho asked Armando to fill in for him, teaching his very first Sunday school lesson. It was nothing short of a miracle to witness the transformed life of Armando, a now-retired military officer, the father of those precious little “cubbies,” teach a well-prepared and personally-exemplified lesson from Acts 6 where the fledgling church was instructed to “…choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom,” that the apostles might turn practical responsibility over to them and thereby give greater attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.   …for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven…

Nearly eight years ago, Isidro, a dedicated and faithful worker and leader in the Huichol church in the village of Zapote de Picachos died unexpectedly leaving fatherless his little family of four young children. Secundino, the oldest (14 years old), went to work to support the family. Four years later, his younger sister, Elvira, who was 16, married Pastor Manuel’s son, Emanuel. Before long, they were expecting their first baby, but Emanuel died of cancer shortly before little Salem was born.

A year later, Emanuel’s cousin, Fernando, married Elvira, determined to give little Salem a father who would discipline and instruct him the Way. Fernando’s brother, Joel, married Rosa from the village of La Bendición. Together they have given their lives to serve in their church, and they have been amazing workers with young people, especially in the Huichol youth camp.

Joel was super-impressed with the theme of last year’s camp, Jesus is Coming Again, and he mentioned several times that he couldn’t wait! Just before camp last year, their little son, Joel, was born, but that didn’t stop them from serving at camp. Last month, Joel got really sick, and finally ended up in the hospital with hepatitis and advanced liver disease.
While his brother, Fernando, who came to stay with him during his hospitalization, was out buying the medication the doctor had prescribed (The hospital has little medication on hand, so everything has to be purchased outside from local pharmacies.), Joel died. Please pray for little Joel, Jr. and his mother, Rosa. Joel’s graduation to heaven will leave an enormous gap to fill in his family, in his church, and in the upcoming Huichol youth camp, Lead Me to the Cross. Praise God that Isidro, Secundino, Emanuel, Elvira, Salem, Fernando, Rosa, Joel, and many others who the world may rebuke and deem undeserving of Jesus’ time, have heard the Gospel as children, responded to it, and given their lives in gratitude for His service.  
for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven…