"Not so easily was I remade as made. He spoke and all things were made. But while he made me simply and at once by a word, he has in the remaking of me said many words, and worked wonders and suffered much." (St. Bernard)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eager for Him and Him Alone

I have been in Quito, the capitol of Ecuador, for almost one month. My time in Quito has been an adventure, to say the least. I came here to obtain a more formal training in Spanish. I have been taking language classes for about 4 weeks. During this time, I also have been trying to be a missionary to the people in this city who yearn for God to ‘wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Rev 21:4).

I remember the first day of classes, Monday, April 22nd. God gifted me with an incredible faith-filled teacher, Isabel. We were able to talk about our Lord. She is a catequist for children at her church. She stays very busy helping out in different ways. We have been able to pray together before and after the lessons. She has an incredible heart and cares deeply for each of her students.

This same day, there was another student in this school whose last day was my first day. She is a Christian missionary from England. She was leaving the next day to go to her mission post near the coast of Ecuador. I told her that in Family Missions Company, before someone leaves for their mission, we pray over them, laying our hands upon them, like the apostles did in Acts (See Acts 13:3). It was awesome to be able to join with her in prayer through our same Lord Jesus Christ. We all have a mission to preach His Gospel until the end of the world.

Later this same day, I met a young man who was lying on the street, his name is Gustavo. He is only 15 years old. He was filthy. I offered him some food and water and talked to him about the love of God. He looked confused as to why I was talking to him. I believe while he is just lying there on the street most people just walk past him. Even if it was just for a few minutes, I hope that he came to know that our Lord cares deeply for him. Please pray for him and so many others like him.

As I continued walking, I decided that I could just walk back to where I was staying. I am living in the south of Quito with a congregation of priests called Los Josefinos. From my school to their house, it is about a thirty minute bus ride. I had plenty of time to walk and make it before dark. At one point, I was walking and two men approached me from behind. One man stepped in front of me, reached in his jacket, turned towards me and pulled out a large butcher knife. The other man quickly stripped my bag and jacket off my back. They turned and took off running with my belongings.

“A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn. 10:10)

Do you realize that we have been bought at a price? My life does not belong to me. God can easily take my life away if He deems it is time. The murder of a Son was the price that was paid. The destruction of His body was the destruction of sin and death. No one wants to be in suffering and pain, or in mourning. And Jesus came to make all things new (See Rev. 21). Every person is in search of happiness, comfort and peace. Even thieves are in search of these things. However, where shall you look: amongst the things of this world? These things will continue to bring sadness and disappointment, for they will never satisfy. Everything of this world has an end; everything runs dry. There is only One who can give life forever and give it in abundance. Jesus is the eternal wellspring that gives life. Follow Him and you shall never thirst again.

 “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.’ (Mt. 10:28)

After this incident I have been giving thanks to God more intensely for my life. I have been praying for these men. I truly believe that God will transform the hearts of these men. However, after this I was trying not to fear these people or this city. At first, I was doing well. I was motivated not to allow this incident to frighten me. Mt. 10:28 tells us that we should only fear God, because He has the power to destroy our body AND soul. As I look around at the city and its people, I see a people living in fear. Now, I was experiencing fear in this city. I was constantly on-guard. I would guard my pocket; I would guard my bag; I would guard my back. On the bus, the other day, a person bumped against me from behind and I jumped, thinking they were attempting to rob me. Lord, I don’t want to live in fear. Save me!

For a few days, I was struggling to be open with people: on the bus or on the street. How can I minister to others if I am afraid of them? Jesus tells us that we cannot hide our talents. We cannot hide our light under the bushel basket. Our heavenly Father has created us for a purpose. All of us, as members of the Body of Christ, have a specific role in helping others to come to know His Son, Jesus, and that His Kingdom is being established here, right now. The Lord says do not be afraid of those in the world. He means right now: Do not be afraid! Slowly, I came out of hiding. I know that through the fervent prayers of my family, friends and benefactors, and the valiant prayers of St. Michael and the Holy Family, I have come out of the pit of this fear. I must tell you, despite the oppression of this city: the barred windows, the broken glass cemented into the tops of walls, the hard expressionless faces that many people display because of their fear, I have never met so many selfless and faith-filled people, as I have met here in Quito.

One man, named Klever, gave up his entire day to help me find a place to live. He has a generous heart and a great desire to understand the incredible depths of God. He doesn’t give himself a little, but like our Lord who manifested bread and fish in abundance, he gives himself in abundance.

At this point, I must mention the Josefinos. I have been staying with a group of priests at Iglesia La Magdalena. They are of the congregation Los Josefinos. There are 4 priests who live here. Padre Hector is the head of these men. Since the first day I met him he has treated me like a son. He drove me to the U.S. Embassy the day after my passport was stolen. He invited me to his hometown so I could meet his family. He has provided for me shelter, food and a place to rest in their home. I am deeply indebted to him, Padre Edwin, Padre Gustavo, and dear Padre Pedrito. Also, a young man named Cesar lives here. He has an intense desire to be a priest and to serve others. He is only 16 years old. His devotion to Jesus through our Holy Mother is intense. He awakes every morning at 3am to give praise to our Lord through the rosary. He is constantly witnessing to the love of Jesus by offering to help wherever he can. His devotion inspires me to be more attentive to the voice of our Lord.

Last Sunday, I was walking back to the church when a lady named Loran Volanci, who was sitting on the side of the road selling food, called out to me. She begged for me to pray for her to God. She begged that I would pray to God that He would protect her and heal her from her infirmities. WOW! What faith! I recall all the men and women that reached out to Jesus that they might be held. What faith! I have never seen such faith. With her right then and there, I placed my hands on her and I prayed over her that the Lord would heal her. I understood in that moment how much the Father truly loves us. This is the kind of faith we each should have. Her witness of faith augmented my own faith. Thank you Jesus!

I have been able to see one woman, Rebecca, 2-3 times per week. She has been struggling with walking the straight path with God. She has been partying too much, and being with friends who do not encourage her to grow closer to God. The first day I met her we were talking about God. I thought she had everything together. Before I left, I asked her if I could pray for her. She said, “Of course.” I said, “I don’t mean pray for you later, but right now.” Surprised, she said, “Of course!” I asked her for what she needed me to pray. Immediately, she started crying. She has been crying every night, every day, begging God for help to make her path straight. She has been so depressed. She hasn’t been going to church. She told me that she has been so confused in her faith. She wanted God to send her someone to pray with her and to help her. God answered her prayers. Now, she awakes in the morning at 5am and prays, giving thanks to God. She is so joyful and so thankful for the love of God. She doesn’t desire to go out partying. She only desires to pray and be close to Him. I gave her a bible, as well. She was ecstatic! Now, her faith is contagious. Her belief in the power of prayer is tangible. I walk away from praying with her truly feeling bold in our Lord, courageous in His love, with an increased faith in the very real presence of our God. He is alive! His kingdom is here! I have encountered Christ.

Amongst all the trials and suffering, and fear of this world, there is so much good. There is so much to love and to be thankful for. Even a taste of the everlasting joy of the Kingdom can be appreciated right now if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Yet, the goodness of the Kingdom is only manifested here by our cooperation with Him to help make it known. God works through us to reveal Himself to others. How will people obtain faith to see and hear the Kingdom, if no one is showing them God’s love and no one is speaking to them God’s Word. It is our obligation, like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:16, to preach the Gospel. At any moment God could call you back to give an account to Him of the work He has given you to do. So I ask you: are you ready? How many talents have you gained? How much fruit is on your branch? Are you slumbering in the night while the oil for your lamp has run dry? Are you ready for when the theif comes in the night? For, ”Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” (Heb. 9:27-28)

Let us awake! Let us be eager for Him and Him alone! Let us look forward to the day when the veil will be removed from our eyes and we may truly see our Lord Jesus Christ forever face to face!