Wednesday, March 31, 2021

February/March 2021 Not in the Wisdom of Men but in the Power of God

February/March 2021 

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom…so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1, 5 

God doesn't take death lightly. Even for believers, illness and death are awful enemies, never meant to be. In fact, God’s inspired messenger in 1 Corinthians 15:26 refers to death as “the last enemy that shall be destroyed.” He goes on to say that “death has been swallowed up in victory” by Jesus Who triumphantly conquered that adversary when He rose from the dead on the very first Resurrection morning. 

Even though He Who has vanquished the foe walks alongside, a hike through the “valley of death’s shadow” is never a pleasant stroll. The past two months have been filled with too many personal friends who have made that journey. Praise God that, as Tim Keller says, “All death can do to Christians is make their lives infinitely better.” Praise God that His power and testimony had been proclaimed loud and clear to Francisca, who this past month was among those we love who found out for sure that no one who by faith trusts, not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, with their heart and soul, will ever regret it. 

Francisca is Emilia’s grandmother. Emilia is one of the team of Huichol mother-tongue Bible translators. She often took advantage of the weekend breaks from the translation workshops in Tepic to travel to Tijuanita to visit her father’s elderly and ailing mother. Emilia loved her grandmother and thanked God often for the heritage Francisca had helped shape for her. Francisca was the very first to believe when José López began making mission trips proclaiming the testimony of God to the people of his remote natal mountain village of Guásima del Caimán. 

For years, most of the villagers rejected José and the Gospel message he preached, but when Francisca became ill and nearly died, as the last hope, some of her family members carried her to Tepic and left her with José and his wife, Benita, who took care of Francisca while she was in the hospital and then in their village home for three years as she slowly recovered. When at last, Francisca was well enough to return to Guásima, her husband, Julio, was furious to discover that she had believed in Jesus. He constantly drank his customary corn liquor, and he beat her, relentlessly demanding that she come back to the old ways. But Francisca had decided to follow Jesus, and there was no turning back for her. One day, she escaped to the village of Zapote de Picachos to be with others who, also, by the power of God, had believed. In time, the Holy Spirit used the gentle testimony, not of lofty speech or wisdom, that Francisca had left behind to convince Julio’s hard heart of his need for the Savior. Finally, one day, Julio hiked through the mountains to Zapote to find Francisca and ask for her forgiveness, but more importantly, to ask for God’s forgiveness. Julio was miraculously transformed into a “new creation.” The old way of life passed away, and his Savior made him brand new. Francisca, José, and other believers from Zapote diligently proclaiming the testimony of God, discipled her husband, and he became a devoted follower of Jesus, too. Years later, Julio was dying; he was hospitalized in Tepic. His family surrounded him as he encouraged them to remain faithful to the Savior, and Emilia said that in the hospital he prayed: “Lord, very soon I will be face-to-face with You in Your presence. I leave my family in Your care.” And with that “farewell,” he was gone. 

This past month, Francisca passed her final test, looking beyond the dreaded enemy and focusing solely on Jesus the Death-Conqueror, Who years ago had been introduced to her not with lofty speech or wisdom, nor in the wisdom of men but in the power of God

And the legacy continues. Francisca’s granddaughter, Emilia, is heading on a trek to the even more remote village of Guamuchilillo. She and a couple of leaders from Zapote launched the OANSA club in that village. Due to COVID restrictions in the mountains, they have been unable to return for follow-up during the past year, but they’re getting things in order to go back. The UIM plane will lift them to Tierra Blanca, then they will hike, carrying supplies, the remaining three hours to Guamuchilillo. A couple of special offerings from friends that love the Huichols made it possible for printing the handbooks and silk-screening the new t-shirts in Tepic. Thank you! See the Guamuchilillo OANSA here

Death is a dreadful enemy. The passing of every single friend is a horrible and painful reminder of that. Praise God, someone answered the call to share the Gospel with Francisca, and she believed. We cannot beat death, but we know the One Who has. He never said, “I am finished.” He said, “It is finished!” Death is finished, but the mandate to proclaim the Truth NOT with lofty human speech or wisdom but simply and clearly in God’s power faithfully forges ahead. 

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom…so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1, 5