Saturday, October 01, 2022

August-September 2022 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken… Psalm 37:25

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken… Psalm 37:25

This past month, Elizabeth II and I celebrated our Platinum Jubilees! Her Majesty began her record-setting 70-year reign just months before I was born. I’m grateful to God for the life He has given me and for the army of people who have surrounded and loved me during these three-score decades and ten that have seemed “but a vapor,” and I have not seen the righteous forsaken. 

It’s sobering and appropriate to realize that I most certainly will not experience another Platinum Jubilee. This world is magnificently inviting, but it is not the end. It’s merely a temporary assignment, not home; it’s a nice place to pass through, but it’s not the destination. In his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, Eugene Peterson asserts that I’m not a tourist, I’m a pilgrim on my way to a better place. He wrote this book at the début of the age of universal cell phones, pocket computers, wireless internet, fast food, Netflix, and social media with instant access to entertainment, information, and addiction to hurrying. Peterson insists, “Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”  

José López is a vivid example of implementing a long, unhurried, obedience in the same direction. He came to faith late in his second decade, after too many wasted years of wandering and wallowing in sin. But once the Savior rescued him, to this day, he has never wavered as a steadfast, dedicated disciple, an available apprentice of Jesus. 

Pastor José is not stunning or personally attention-grabbing; his commitment is not logical, his efforts are seemingly thankless and not trendy, nor will they be included in the latest Barna stats. As he plods along as an ordinary but loyal disciple in his long obedience in the same direction, his focus is not on his work and effort, but on that of his Master. 

José was won to Christ and trained in the faith by the very first Huichol Christian, Román Díaz, whose place he occupied as the main Huichol pastor/leader after Román graduated to heaven. José learned to read from the only Huichol book in print, the New Testament. Then he worked hand in hand with Kirt, until Kirt’s graduation, sharing the Gospel throughout the mountains, establishing churches, and suffering for his faith more than anybody I know. His very first evangelistic effort, after he learned to read and was discipled, was to return to Guásima del Caimán, his natal village, and to his family that he had abandoned years before when he took off to seek his “fortune” in the big city. He was met with solid rejection of himself and more importantly, of the Savior he now represented. How disappointed he was when everybody who heard his message mocked him, rejected his pleas, and insisted that he leave the village never to return. Twenty-five years later, he was unexpectedly invited back to his village, and thirty-six Huichol people believed. Those new believers experienced horrendous persecution from the other villagers, and ultimately, they were forced to relocate. They named their new village La Bendición (The Blessing) and began their own long obedience in the same direction following José’s resolute example.

There are way too many details to share here, but before long that infant church, now pastored by Refugio, reached out with their exemplary leader, José, to establish sister churches in new villages like Vizcarra, Tutuyekuamama, and Pueblo Nuevo. (You can search for and read about these village churches in previous blog posts here.) 

Not only was José purposefully unstoppable in sharing the Gospel throughout the Sierra Madre, but also, he was front and center in getting the ball rolling for the translation of the complete Huichol Bible. Dr. Grimes, a consulting linguist, commented that in the context of the translation workshops, José was somewhat on the margin, not being great on technology, though not afraid of it either. He would take a seat on the side choosing to use the oldest computer in the project. His knowledge of the Bible and humankind was and is impressive, especially in the translation of difficult passages, making him a vital contributing member of the team.

José has hiked innumerable miles, flown countless more in UIM-A planes, ridden in the back of rattle-trap pickups, spent days and nights on the trail, been imprisoned for his faith, whatever it has taken to share the Gospel, baptize, and disciple many Huichols, who because of His Savior and his long obedience in the same direction, have believed. José has not seen the righteous forsaken. See photo albums of José’s long obedience and other August-September Tepic activities here.