For many years the border towns of Reynosa, Tecate and Juarez have been the largest of Mission Discovery mission trips. In these three towns Mission Discovery teams have built over 1700 homes for the poor and seen thousands trust Christ through our adult and childrens’ outreaches.
In 2008 the President of Mexico began a crackdown on drug trafficking and its corruption that had infiltrated his own government. There have been successes, but with that progress hundreds have been killed. Most of the deaths have been cartel and drug lords and some military. And some deaths have been innocent bystanders.
These events led us to pull our teams from Mexico last year resulting in teams canceling their trips. We ached inside because our ministry staff in Reynosa had been working since the previous summer to identify families who needed homes, families living in cardboard structures. I realized that there might be staff changes in our office.
For almost 12 years I have been meeting with a group of men from my church on Thursday mornings at 7 am. Over the years it’s been a mix of book studies, devotional thoughts, laughter and individual heartbreaks. I’m usually the last to speak.
It’s my M.O. I say something during some point during the last 10 minutes of the group. But on this particular Thursday, a day after canceling our Mexico trips last summer, Don asked me to check in at 10 after 7. This day the format was to check in on three levels, physically, mentally and spiritually. I opened my mouth and said, “Physically, I’m tired.” And could not speak another work for what seemed like 5 minutes. Painful as this was, it was a Holy moment
I’m reminded of a priest names Zechariah who had a wife named Elizabeth. Both were old. As was a custom Zechariah was chosen by lottery to burn incense in the temple. It was a “random chance” that he was chosen. When he entered an angel named Gabriel appeared next to the alter and told Zechariah that his wife would have a child (John the Baptist) and he would do some incredible things for the Kingdom of God. After Gabriel finished Zechariah asked, “How can I be sure of this? I am and old man and my wife is well along in years?” Because Zechariah doubted, Gabriel said, “Zechariah…and now you will be silent and not be able to speak until the day this happens, be cause you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”
So when Zechariah departed the temple, all those worshiping outside knew he had had an encounter with God because he was making hand signals! Imagine him coming home to Elizabeth and signing or writing in desperation that they needed to crank up the baby factory!
I worked through the list using the outline to tell what I had done to our Mexico trips; it’s possible impact on the staff at Mission Discovery, my anger at God, my love for Him. This was also the same time our economy here in the U.S. was in the tanks.
Now, a year later we have made those changes. The people who left Mission Discovery actually have great jobs, are personally fulfilled, and still run trips for us. Our participant numbers are growing and there are new ideas on the horizon. Mission Discovery’s recovery has been a combination of responding appropriately, faith and miracles. We look at our days at the office a little differently because of what we are going through.
That day of speechlessness is a treasure. I know that God uses our words in powerful ways. Our tongues are spoken of as a rudder of a ship. But what if one day you could not speak. Could you still reflect God’s character? And imagine Zechariah’s first words after nine months! I can’t wait to meet him and ask him what he said. I wonder if he chose silence in that Holy moment. Read Zechariahs story in Luke 1
(Photo taken at one of the quietest places in the world, the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf)