Friday, August 20, 2010

Iris, us and Jesus

Iris is a woman with four young kids, and one of them, the oldest, all of 6 years old, is unique in at least two ways. First of all, she has blond hair in a dark-skinned Mexican family. She also has a problem with her brain. Her name is Fernanda.

I met Iris and Fernanda, and her husband Miguel Angel only after they had become good friends with Melisa, Andrea, Jacklyn and Tiffany. Tiffany Taylor, a single gal from Northwest Arkansas, is with us here in southeast Mexico City for a whole year, and came a week before our summer internship program began. She helped us with the program, and hosted Andrea and Jacklyn in her small, two-bedroom house. Melissa Roberts grew up in Costa Rica as a CAM MK, and came down for a month to help teach the interns a bit of Spanish.

The challenge for the interns was to initiate and sustain friendships with the purpose of seeing people come one step closer to a relationship with God through Jesus. It is the same challenge for those of us who serve vocationally on the field. Faith is a bit like the best possible virus…it spreads through personal contact.

One morning, during our devotional time in the small, two-bedroom house that we rent for our church, we prayed for the families that, in one way or another, had been impacted by the love and appreciation extended by each intern. As we finished praying for five special families, one of these special families knocked on the door of the church. There was Iris and her kids, and her husband Miguel Angel also, informing us that the latest brain scan done on Fernanda had given her reason to celebrate. There appeared to be no further inflammation. Fernanda was still sick, but at least not getting any worse.

Iris and her daughters then made that huge step that we all pray for…they went from participating in the ESL and basketball classes to actually attending a Tuesday night Bible study. Shortly after, I met her on the street, close to the church. She had difficulty expressing exactly what she wanted to say, but said that she couldn’t believe that people like us actually existed, that she felt so loved, so accepted by us and with us. And no wonder. Every time we saw her and her family, and especially her daughter, a lot of hugging happened! In four short weeks, Andrea, Jacklyn and Tiffany allowed God to do the supernatural through them—the Lord transformed a relationship of complete strangers into one of total trust.

A few weeks later, at another Tuesday night study, Iris finally put her faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The next Sunday, she related how the Lord in his gentle, persistent and powerful way brought her to understand her need of a Savior. Her perspective on her home and her life in general has begun to change. Even her husband, although a bit taken aback at her decision, respects what she had decided.

This is what happens when love is extended with an open hand and a sincere heart. This is what happens when someone experiences love, joy and peace in a world full of everything but those sweet fruits. This is what happens, sometimes, when a man or a woman comes to understand the supreme love that God has for them, and the supreme price He paid to prove it. Oftentimes, more often than not, God chooses to use the most imperfect of instruments, us, to be the powerful dispensers of truth packaged in hugs and whispers of genuine, unadulterated love.

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