On Feb 6th I was the guest speaker at Mision Latina in Athens. My good friend Roque and my “should-have-been-my-daughter” Claire came along for the ride.
The entire experience was enchanted. From the moment I walked into the building I was warmly greeted and I felt as if I belonged there. A little more than 22 years ago was the first day I stepped into this ancient edifice.
Sunday represented a full circle for me, and I might add a very emotional one. Mision Latina has taken this building and done about all they can with it. As my good friend Joseph Slife once said, “It’s hard to do 21st century ministry in a 19th century building”. Yet, Mision Latina is doing just that. As the service opened, there were testimonies of God’s faithfulness and love. One particular testimony stood out to me. (I will get back to this testimony in a little bit.)
As the singing opened, the Holy Spirit touched my heart and I simply drank in the love and worship these brothers and sisters in the Lord offered to God. The more they sang, the deeper I was drawn into their lives. Since I don’t understand Spanish and I don’t sing well I was able to enjoy the worship time in a special way. I closed my eyes and began to sing in the spirit. It sounded a bit like Spanish, so I blended right in. As they progressed through the songs I watched each participant as they played their instruments and they danced and worshiped and sang to the Lord. I was so overwhelmed by the love and mercy of God that I understood why Peter said at the Mount of Transfiguration, “Let’s just build a house and stay here.” It was that good.
When it came time for me to speak, Haydee introduced me and Efrain was the translator. While I don’t speak Spanish fluently, the 4 years of Spanish 1 I flunked in school has left its mark on me. I can read Spanish and not do too bad a job of pronunciation. Using Google translator, I developed some phrases that spoke of the desire of my heart. We prayed and I launched into my talk.
I spoke of Mark 4:35-41 and Acts 12:1-8. The term that developed from this talk was “La Pista de la vida” or the “Life track”. Basically the idea is in the book of Mark, Peter saw Jesus asleep in the back of the boat during a life threatening storm. In the book of Acts Peter had learned how to be peaceful in the eye of the storm as he slept soundly the night before he was to be executed. I wanted them to experience this type of peace in the storms of life they face.
I told them how there were issues we needed to deal with up-front. They are my born again brothers and sisters in the Lord and they have documentation problems. How do we deal with it? Not all of them have documentation problems, but many do. So the question is what do we do as Christians to walk in God’s love and help one another? I saw how these dear friends live in constant fear because of these problems. What do we do? I told them I didn’t care what the democrats say or what the republicans say. I want to know what God says about it.
One of the basic elements of the Christian faith is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. When I do that, I see things in a completely different light. As I said earlier, one man spoke of how he came to the United States. He was from El Salvador. He was working there and making $270 a month. He wanted to send his kids to college and needed a better job, so he came to the United States. When I heard his testimony I was cut to the quick. He was making $270 a MONTH! I reflected to the Lord quietly my shame. I am quite capable of going into Best Buy and blowing $270 on some electronic gizmo I don’t need simply to have a “new and improved” version, and to my eternal shame, I wouldn’t think twice about it. Oh God forgive me please!
1st Samuel 18:1 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
This is what has happened to me. Efrain Diaz is as Jonathan unto me. I love this man and I thank God daily for bringing him into my life. I thank God for bringing the plight of my Hispanic/Latino brothers and sisters in Christ into my heart. There is nothing I can do at this time more important than to help them alleviate fear and walk in peace. This will be a tough road though, yet I am in the boat with them. Where their boat goes I go. Their storms are my storms. Their victories are my victories.
Lord: I have no answers to the difficult questions we need to answer, but you do. Help me to listen oh so carefully as we move forward. Give me courage to act on what you tell me to do and go where you tell me to go. Bring across our paths the resources and ideas you want us to pursue. Help my brothers and sisters in Christ and use me anyway you want to help them Lord.