International Ministries

A Christmas Beyond Special -- Update

March 6, 2012 Journal
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Two years ago we shared a story about friends and colleagues in ministry, José Luis, Sonia and their daughters, with special attention given to a new walk in life for José's parents.  Rarely do we take time to write an update but let it be known that this fine pastor family, serving in Tijuana, continues to give thanks for the miracle that occured two years ago.  The health of Jose's parents has been declining and his father is now blind, but they remain happily married and serving the Lord faithfully in their little church.  Here's the original story:
 
It was with special expectations, beyond anything before imagined, that Pastor José, his wife,Sonia and their daughters left Tijuana for a holiday visit home to the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.  The weeks spent in Tuxtla Gutiérrez did not disappoint.  For twenty years José had been estranged from his parents.  Although always in his thoughts and prayers, he had come to the realization that his parents, now in their eighties, would probably never turn from a life that had caused him so much pain.  But the last few months had witnessed a remarkable conversion and they couldn't wait to celebrate the happenings together over the holidays. 
 
José comes from a long family history of folk healers whose practice incorporated a wide, even seemingly incongruent, variety of spiritism.  At the age of twelve he was dedicated to the spirits in an elaborate ceremony in which he was tied to the ground naked, chickens were sacrificed and their blood was mixed with his.  He became an exotic dancer.  He was encouraged to do penance through long stretches on his knees until the bleeding and pain made it impossible to continue.  Even today he has physical reminders of that traumatic time in his life, having undergone multiple knee surgeries precisely because his ligaments were so damaged at a crucial developmental age.
 
While still a teenager José responded to a different message, one that proved life-changing and one that freed him from the darkness and pain to which he had become so accustomed.  He began a journey centered in Christ, one full of hope and new life that literally gave him something for which to live.  He heard about a new Seminary being started in Mexicali, a city located at the opposite extreme of the country.  So he headed out on the long trip north.  Late one night he finally found the Mexicali Baptist Seminary, climbed the gate and slept until morning under the overhang of a building.  He would stay at the Seminary for four years and has since made his home in Tijuana. 
 
These past twenty years witnessed little contact between José and his family in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.  But that all changed when José's parents made a decision to give up their old ways and put their faith solely in Christ.  They were being discipled in an Assemblies of God church and were anxious for José and his family to visit and see what was happening first hand.  They were even making plans to finally get married after more than fifty years together and they were ready for baptism.  They would wait for José and his family, though, as there would be nothing better than for José to participate in the celebrations and for the whole family to witness a transformation in the life of two octogenarians.
 
José, Sonia and the girls are home now in Tijuana.  Is there a better way to end the celebration of Christ's birth than by returning home and praising God for all you've seen and heard?  We doubt it.