Why is one-on-one interaction and deep involvement with people so important? The answer lies in looking at people like our dear friend Luz and her husband, Jose (pseudonyms).
Jose struggled with alcoholism. We began a simple five-part evangelistic Bible study with them, and before we even finished the sessions, Luz on her own had put her faith in Christ. She has grown steadily ever since and is now one of those rock-solid believers who truly emanates the “sweet savor of Christ.”
Jose professed faith as well. However, he suffered tremendous ups and downs over the years as he continued to struggle with his addictions. For a time he did well, and he and Luz even went to northern Baja to take classes at a Bible institute. But he couldn’t leave his addictions, and fell into verbal and physical abuse of his wife. We have been involved in Jose and Luz’s lives all along the way, just being their friends, helping pay for one daughter’s college education, and helping clean up their home after it would flood when the tropical storm rains would hit. We sought to encourage Luz, and we urged Jose over and over to leave his addictions. Steve would even go to their home when Jose was threatening his wife. After going through the cycle of domestic violence with him a number of times, Luz left him for good and decided that she could never go back to him again, even were he to change. The emotional damage over so many years had been too great.
But even in this case God has shown his amazing power to transform lives. Although we continued to pray for Jose to genuinely change, we had a hard time believing that he really could or would. He would come to church from time to time, and he kept begging Luz to take him back, but we saw no lasting change in his behavior.
Now, however, he has been off drugs for many months. Luz has received him back, and they are working on buying their own home together for the first time ever. He has once again become faithful in the church. Jose’s relationship with Steve had gradually deteriorated over the years because he would not listen to Steve’s urging to leave drugs and choose to change. At one point he even threatened Steve with a knife. So when we went back to Baja in June to say our goodbyes and pack up our personal belongings, we felt huge joy when Luz came up to us after the church service and told Steve that Jose had asked her to please relay to Steve that he asked forgiveness for the things he had done to Steve. For us personally, that was a clear sign of transformation in Jose’s life. These stories of transformation as God has worked through his people have sprung up everywhere.
The journey of Ana and Marcos [pseudonyms] has taken many twists and turns. They started attending services in the late ‘90s and were faithful for a while. But when presented with the need for believer’s baptism, Marcos balked, and the couple left the church for years. Then, a serious health problem caused Ana to turn back to the Lord. She came to a women’s retreat and began to get involved again, joined later by her husband and one son. They even offered us an apartment they owned rent-free as the first location for a shelter for abused women, and Ana helped out a great deal with caring for their needs. We saw the joy of the Lord in their lives. However, when a problem arose with one of the women who stayed there, they asked for the apartment back and again left the church for several years.
When we returned in June, we were thrilled to see Ana back in church again, this time with one daughter and a grandson. Some La Paz de Cristo members had faithfully kept in touch with them and kept inviting them to the activities of the church; there again, the life-on-life time figured greatly in the ongoing transformation of Ana and her family.
-Written by Lois Dresselhaus
-Photography by Robert Johnson
[Originally published in TEAMHorizons, September 2010]Download This Issue of TEAMHorizons