Wednesday, January 31, 2024

December 2023 - January 2024 His process of redemption in the lives of those who are waiting to hear

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, …eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day…She began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:33-38 

Through her love, devotion, and constant service to God in the Temple of Jerusalem, day and night, Anna was divinely positioned to see Him face-to-face and witness the presentation of baby Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world Whose coming had been prophesied just following the very first sin in the Garden of Eden and for Whom Israel had waited all these years. 

No longer did it matter who Anna’s father was, though his name, Phanuel, means “Face of God,” nor was it so important that she was from the “lost” northern tribe of Asher (certainly not lost or forgotten by God!), nor that she was just a little old widow lady. All that mattered was that she had been privileged to personally know the Savior, and she resolved, wholeheartedly, to introduce the Redeemer to all who waited. Anna, the prophetess, would be the very first missionary mentioned in the New Testament, a proclaimer of His redemptive truth. 
The past two months in Tepic have been filled with God’s divine positioning of faithful servants who, day and night, witness His process of redemption in the lives of those who are waiting to hear.

In the last part of December at the Tepic church, IBBM, we had our annual OANSA Christmas party. LOTS of people worked together night and day to have everything in place, games, piñatas, food, special treats, and most importantly, the story time sharing the best Gift ever! Not everything worth doing comes off without a hitch; the enemy sees to that. For starters, the OANSA-mobile refused to move, so several of the leaders with their servant’s hearts, jumped in available cars and trucks and drove the bus route to pick up the kids from the other side of town who can come only if they have transportation.
Once everyone was here, we met in the church auditorium for singing and the Bible story time. Jonatán, once in cubbies, now club Commander, oversaw the preliminaries, and María, along with a few leader friends, shared the story of God’s very best Gift. As I looked around, I realized that Jonatán, María, Adriana, Josué, David, Omar, Carlita, and Lynethe grew up in OANSA. They started as cubbies and went through the entire program, with at least 12 years of hiding God’s Word in their hearts, learning to apply what they learned, serving, and becoming leaders. When María shared that God’s Gift came to give His life so that we might be forgiven, she could hardly get through her tears. When little cubbies María first started attending OANSA, her dad never dropped her off without leaving her in tears. Now she’s an excellent teacher who freely speaks of Him to all who are waiting for redemption. This coming month’s OANSA theme is: “Did Someone Say Mission? I’ll Go!” 

The following week IBBM-Tepic hosted our annual community Christmas Celebration. It was another wonderful opportunity to share the plan of redemption with all who are waiting to hear…even if they don’t know they are waiting! We shared 200 plates of tamales, beans, and dessert after the program. 

Preparations are underway for the upcoming 2024 Huichol youth camp in which we’re expecting more campers than we can handle from various mountain villages. This is a HUGE problem (It’s a good problem!). We've had to set a limit this year after concluding last year that the facilities we rent just don't allow for more than 200. If the “polling” on the sign-up sheets coming in indicates the final outcome, we will have to turn away way too many Huichol young people from this year’s camp. We are praying for God’s provision of a larger, more user-friendly multipurpose campground (and that dream may be a possibility), but the old “modified” brick factory where we meet is all we have right now. The theme this year, chosen by the Huichol leaders themselves is, “Guard Your Heart.” Each lesson includes a specific kind of “heart” referred to in the Bible and a character who portrays it: Deceitful-Judas, Cleansed-David, Willing-Isaiah, Abandoned-Solomon, Stone hard-Israel, Serviceable-Anna – Oh yes, Anna, that little old lady who with no father, no husband, and no children, did not neglect to serve, night and day, in the Temple. She appropriated the blessing given to her tribal patriarch from Moses: “As your days, so shall your strength be.” And God was just waiting to share His very best with that overlooked little old steward who was faithful, with her servant’s heart, in the place He positioned her. And Anna gave thanks to God and spoke of Him to all who were waiting for redemption.

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