When I arrive for my eight a.m. Biblical studies class at el Seminario Teologico de La Paz (a TEAM Mexico partnership), Joe is usually already there waiting for me. His enthusiasm for learning the Word of God and how to communicate it is contageous to both students and faculty.
Joe is retired, recently married for the second time, and had a silent heart attack in the recent past. Many might think that he should be relaxing and enjoying his golden years, but Joe doesn’t want any part of that.
Joe was born in Portugal and raised in the United States. At one point, he had a successful business and a family. Things worked out well for Joe for years, but eventually he lost the company, got divorced, and became disillusioned with the “American” dream.
Searching for something new, he began to vacation in La Paz, mostly in search of sunny beaches, tequila, and women. One night, he dropped into a local music and drinking establishment where he met Mari, a recent widow with two young boys. Before her husband died, Mari had given her life to the Lord, but her husband’s death and other issues left her adrift. But God had a plan. Joe and Mari began to date and fall in love.
Through all of this, Mari still went to church and Joe decided to go with her one day. The pastor asked Joe if he wanted to be saved, and Joe found himself saying yes. Together, they found their way to God. For Mari, it was returning to her first love. For Joe, it meant being reborn. They married and visited the TEAM church, el Faro (the Lighthouse) just a few blocks from their home. There they found the community that they both desperately needed.
As God is healing Mari, she is reaching out to other women who need God’s touch. She and my wife Susie visit, counsel, and pray for many other needy women every week. As for Joe, he’s available at the church for whatever needs to be done. Additionally, he’s learning about God and his Word at our seminary. Joe and Mari were two broken individuals who God never stopped loving. He brought them together and is making them whole once again.
-Written by Martin Gonzalez, TEAM missionary in Mexico
-Photo by Martin Gonzalez