February 11, 2013

Mexico: No Swimming Pool…and No Lions!

A man in search of a swimming pool ended up on Jim’s doorstep instead. As their friendship has grown, so too has the man’s faith in the Lord.

  • Friendship

    As Jim and Alvaro’s friendship has grown, so too has Alvaro’s faith in the Lord. Alvaro now attends Jim’s Sunday night Bible study, and the two of them also meet separately where they are studying Ephesians together.

He came down our street looking for a local swimming pool, but instead saw our sign for English classes and rang our doorbell. I’d just been praying for God to grant me some male friendships, and here was Alvaro* standing at my door.

I invited him in and we began chatting. I asked him “life coach” types of questions, and he started telling me a little bit about his life. As Alvaro talked, three key points emerged: he said he needed to change but was unable; his life had no real purpose; and he’d like a way to serve others. I pointed out that the best solution to all three issues was God, but Alvaro said he wasn’t sure he believed in God.

As we became friends over the ensuing months, Alvaro frequently mentioned that he needed to change, so one day I gave him a challenge: “If you’re willing to pray every day for three months for God to change you, I’ll join you in praying for that to happen,” I said. “I accept,” he said. After a coupe weeks of praying, Alvaro told me with tears in his eyes, “It feels really strange to call God ‘Father,’ but I kind of like it.”

Alvaro told me his sister Nancy was coming to visit him; she was a retired doctor who recently discovered she had contracted a life-threatening illness and was deeply depressed. “I want you to meet her,” Alvaro said. I said I’d be glad to, but asked his purpose in our meeting. “I want her to have faith,” he responded. However, due to her emotional condition, she was not ready to meet anyone new, so I gave Alvaro a worship CD and small daily devotional book to send her in the hopes that they might help lift her spirits and begin to point her toward the Lord.

My work took me away from Guadalajara for a year, but upon returning, I met with Alvaro again. I asked him how it was going. “I‘m having trouble with depression again; I need God to change me,” he said. When I invited him to the Sunday night Bible study our team was about to begin, he said, “We’ll be there.” Nancy was in town visiting Alvaro, and began attending the study, coming all three Sundays she was here.

They came over for a meal and we talked about spiritual things. Alvaro and Nancy had tried to use a set of questions for studying a Bible passage but told us they got nothing out of it, so I offered to come by and we could practice together. At the end of one study, we held hands and prayed for God to soften the heart of their sister, Carmen, who is very hard of heart.

Alvaro continues to attend the Sunday night Bible study, and he calls Nancy after each class to share what passage we studied. Then later in the week, the two of them share notes after she has looked at the passage herself.

As we were looking at Ephesians together and pondering those early Christians being thrown to the lions, Alvaro said, “Wow! What faith! I want to have that class of faith… but without the lions!” We laughed uncontrollably at that thought, but each week I see the Lord doing a serious work of drawing Alvaro to Himself. I pointed out to Alvaro: “See how God is answering your prayers from over a year ago? You are changing, and God is growing faith into Nancy.” I am amazed and blessed that God brought Alvaro to my door.

-Written by a missionary in Mexico
-Photo provided by missionary in Mexico

*not his real name