On the 29th of last month (July, 2011), we returned from Puebla, Mexico. We were there as a small team for about a week, and overall we spent eight days in Mexico. As many, many before, it was a great trip. So very good to see friends and brothers continuing on with Jesus.
I was combing thru some photos that I have saved over the years and came across this one, and I felt prompted to share a little about what is going on in the photo with you. This scene, as many similar ones that have been before it, is very significant. I know, it looks pretty normal, maybe even mundane, especially in the large version on the front page of the blog with the Charmin in the foreground, right side, right? I decided to leave that in instead of crop it out. Hey, we're real people, aren't we?
This photo embodies one of my favorite occasions when I have brought teams to Puebla.
The people in the photo center are Jerry and Susy McNally. They are the founders of Living Hope International, and of the Esperanza Viva Youth Homes in Mexico. They are friends, pioneers in the faith, and bearers of the torch of Christ in a place in the world where you can almost physically feel the resistance. I am blessed to have their friendship and input in my missions endeavors, and they have been an encouragement to me, and have felt free to challenge me too. I like it when people challenge you, though it can be awkward when it is actually going on.
At this moment, Jerry and Susy are talking with our team. This one is a group of students learning about being missionaries, and though they may not realize it, they are learning here from some of the best. Jerry is fairly conservative with stories about himself. He's not the kind of guy who will tell you all his “good stories” in the first few times he talks to you. That makes me think, I need to get more good stories of my own. I have known these guys since 2005, when I first stopped by to visit them. From that time until now, I have been routinely surprised by stories I have never heard before. The guy has a collection, and so does Susy.
I am not going to tell Jerry's stories for him, mostly because I would fail to pass on important detail that he does so well with, but also because I want you to go see him in Puebla. But I will say I have heard stories that inspired me, challenged me, and made me want to be more radical for Christ. Stories of Jerry standing with a noose around his neck by torch light, while the men of the village voted on whether to hang him. Lucky for you and I, they needed a 100% positive to hang, and one old man didn't feel like it was a good day to hang Jerry.
What's happening in this photo is something more, and I wish we had more of this going on. It is the impartation of spiritual vision. It is the unfolding of history, and the forming of hearts in the call of God. It is a testimony that one couple decided to follow God into places that they didn't know, have 5 children while preaching the gospel to a fairly rowdy crowd, dodged gunfire, went hungry, fasted and prayed, and saw the Lord assemble a team that is making a huge difference in their area, and a complete difference in the lives more than 100 children in their youth homes.
These are busy people, and yet they consistently make time to sit down with students and young people I bring, telling them about God's grace, challenges you can expect, and how to avoid shipwrecks in the faith. I am thankful for this.