As fellow missionary, Allison Lucht, and I were driving out to a Tarahumara Indian settlement north of Chihuahua City for the last day of Vacation Bible School there, she asked if I would give the final talk explaining the Gospel to those present. I was thrilled for the opportunity! This wasn’t your typical, run-of-the-mill VBS that is held in an colorfully-decorated wing of a modern church building. Instead, it is a gathering of Indian children and their mothers who meet in a unpainted, dirt-floored wooden structure with old, worn-out school desks for seating. Despite the differences, the greatest need of the children in either setting remains the same — they need to recognize their need for a Savior. That was was very much on my mind that day.
After the day’s lesson was given by Allison, everyone began working on a beaded bracelet craft. I could not help but noticed one of the moms sitting near the back. She was struggling to thread the gem-like beads (each representing part of the Gospel story) onto a wire with one hand, while holding her infant with the other. I offered to hold her little one so she could finish the craft with both hands. With a relieved sigh she nodded “yes” and eagerly gave me the baby. As I walked around the room holding the infant, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be this tribal mother. I wondered if she had the help of her husband, as I had enjoyed with our four babies, or if she had a husband at all. I wondered how she would respond to Jesus’ offer of salvation when she heard it later. Looking at the baby in my arms I could not help but wonder if he would ever get the chance to hear of a loving God who made a way for him to have a place in Heaven. Too soon the mother finished the bracelet and signaled she was ready to take her baby back.
After the children had made their crafts, played the games, sang the songs, eaten the snacks and listen to the teaching of God’s Word, it was time to bring it all to a conclusion with a clear presentation of the Gospel message. Most of the children speak Spanish, as well as their native Tarahumara tongue. But, there were quite a few mothers present who only spoke the Indian language. The Gospel message is alway best understood if the listeners hear it in their first, or heart, language. Allison soothed my concerns when she told me that one of the lady believers would translate for me from Spanish into Tarahumara.
I was introduced to the group and then my translator was called to join me. To my surprise and delight I saw the lady with the baby move from her chair and make her way up toward the platform. SHE was the believer who would be my translator! Her baby WOULD have a chance to hear the Gospel one day! I was thankful for Allison’s faithful ministry to these women and children and how the fruit of her labor was believing women who could now work alongside her. I could not wait to get started with my new-found sister and co-worker in the Lord!
We started at the beginning with Adam and Eve, how sin entered the world and how that sin had passed down to all of mankind. From there we talked about how sin brings death and separates us from God. We told them that there is nothing WE can do to fix this serious problem. Each time I would pause to allow my Indian coworker to translate, her excited voice told me that she, too, was wanting to make sure the message was understood. We finished by explaining that God Himself provided the answer to our sin problem through the death of His own Son, which paid in full the sin debt we owe.
Everyone listened intently, except a group of four boys in their early teens who were busy talking with one another. My heart went out to these boys who no doubt face a very strong pull of the world on their young lives. Afterward, I told the boys that I noticed they did not hear the message and offered to tell it to them again, since it was the most important thing they would ever hear. Three of the boys took me up on the offer and followed me outside where I again went over the meaning of the Gospel. The three listen intently this time and when I finished told me they believed what I was saying to be the truth. I told them that they could place their trust in Christ as Savior, if they wanted to, but that it had to be their decision. I told them I would be on the other side of the building, if they wanted to pray together to accept Christ as their Savior. I walked around the corner and before I had time to think, all three boys were right beside me. It was obvious that God was working in their hearts and drawing them to Himself. They all three prayed and trusted Jesus as their personal Savior! Later I learned that these three young men had been coming and hearing the teaching of God’s Word through the ministry of Allison and others most of their lives. It all seemed to come together that day for the three of them — what Christ had done for them in paying the sin debt that they could never pay themselves.
Please pray for Antonio, Ernest and Jerman, that they would grow in their new-found faith and learn to walk with the Lord daily. Also pray for the one boy that refused to hear more about Christ, that he would be saved one day soon…before it’s too late. The life of the young people in this Tarahumara community is not one of fun and ease, but is depressing and hard, typically leading them to a life involved in crime, alcoholism or addiction.