Monday, April 01, 2024

February - March 2024 

“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be taken up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51

Though His unwavering resolve to head to Jerusalem to fulfill the horrendous purpose of His earthly ministry would require much more sacrifice than the prophesied: “giving of His back to those who would strike it and His cheeks to those who would pull out His beard,” Jesus refused to “hide His face from disgrace and spitting...” (Isaiah 50 5-6). En route to that unbearable cross and dreading the suffering, He made time to meet with those in need and sent His people to do the same so that the power of God could be seen in them, and He still does make time. Many of those needy people were weak, impetuous, slow to understand, and snubbed by society. Jesus taught and admonished them, fed them, prayed with them, took time to restore their sight, and healed the sick and hurting among them. He invited the little children and multitudes of others who had nothing to offer in exchange, to come to Him. He always had time for people, and He always will. 

The past two months in Tepic have been filled with opportunities to be among His sent ones and to experience the carrying out of Jesus’ intentional purpose along His steadfast journey. Following are a few examples of many. 

Luna is a 5th-grade girl who has navigated her ten years of life in a dysfunctional and destructive home life, alone, unsupported, and with emptiness in her heart, until in the IBBM-Tepic OANSA club, she was introduced to Jesus Who forgave her sins and has offered her new life. At last, Luna is learning that she’s not alone and that she’s loved unconditionally. With much encouragement, she is learning to memorize God’s word and apply it, and she recites her verses weekly. She is determined to “graduate” to the next level in May. Best of all, even in the face of adversity, she realizes that Jesus invites the little children to come, and He will walk beside her through every step of life's trials. Jesus and His sent ones take time for Luna. 

Who would imagine this? Dina is one of eight sisters raised in a Godless household with a sworn atheist father, an adamant Marxist committed to “shepherd” the hearts of his girls promoting Marx’s fundamental tenet that “religion is the opiate of the masses;” that Christianity is a distraction from the plight of human suffering and poverty. The walls of their home, instead of family portraits, displayed photos of Marx, Che Guevarra, Castro, and other communist ideologues. Their father spent his life up to the very last day (which ended this past year) convincing his daughters to expect their future husbands to deceive, abuse, and leave them (as he had their mother), and for them to prepare themselves to be self-supporting, to avoid proletariat oppression, and at all costs, to avoid displaying human weakness. Their father’s prophecy was carried out with horrific resulting struggles, cynicism, superiority, and wayward, rebellious children. Miracles never cease; all but one of those eight girls now, one by one, have been forgiven, redeemed by a steadfast Savior, and have chosen to follow Him. Dina has been told three times that she has cancer, breast, stomach, and now terminal colon cancer, and she has undergone excruciating chemotherapy for each. Though her condition prohibits her from being emersed in water, she is determined to proclaim to the whole world that she is now a child of God, a saved disciple of Jesus, and she will follow His example regardless of the risk. Jesus and His sent ones take time for Dina and her sisters. Watch Dina’s joyful baptism here. 

The greatest opportunity to follow Jesus’ directive and example of stopping at nothing to take time and share the Gospel with people in need was this year’s highly anticipated, much prayed-for, and generously provided for 11th annual Huichol youth camp. From the second the first campers arrived to well after they left to head back to their respective villages, there was not a moment of downtime. The theme was Guard Your Heart. The results of an army of discipled servants ready to serve were over-the-top life changing. We had set the limit at 200 because it's just about impossible to accommodate more in the facility we have used so far, but we just couldn't resist the pleas of an additional 38 campers this year from various villages throughout the Sierra Madre. Somehow there's always room and food and provision for "one more." Nineteen of those campers recognized their need for the Savior Who always has time for them. 

Heart-guarding is at the top of God's list for Jesus' followers, and it was appropriate for every single person at camp - Huichol campers, leaders, staff, and lesson writers. This year's hard-working, sacrificial youth staff from IBBM-Tepic did an amazing job of serving way above and beyond, following Jesus' steadfast example of considering His own needs and comfort less important than loving and caring for others, even as He set His face steadfastly toward the most agonizing, but critical, task ever performed. Carlos, one of the young staff members, wrote a heart-guarding note of gratitude for the privilege of serving again this year, his fourth. Here’s an excerpt from that note: “… I felt Jesus closer in every praise time, every devotional, every talk with my brothers and sisters in the faith, every act of service… This year, I was more blessed by the campers and staff members than I was able to bless them. I had to turn my back so they wouldn't see my tears flowing when I watched the Huichol young people accepting Christ’s forgiveness… This year I got to see Jesus’ work in hearts, but it was different; above all, He worked in my heart.” God’s faithfulness knows no bounds in the process of transformation. Jesus and His sent ones take time for Huichol neighbors and for Carlos. 

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