The Guayas Mestizo Team meets every Monday from 4-7pm to pray, talk about God and the ministry, discuss projects, strategize, plan, share, structure programs...you name it, we do it on Monday afternoons!
The "GMT" currently consists of eleven people: three IMB missionaries, and eight nationals.
This past Monday, team member, Marlene, shared that in their house church this past week they had agreed to ask God to "stretch their faith" and allow them to see His intervention in their lives in a difficult situation (pretty risky request if you ask me!) Marlene shared that for several days nothing happened in her life to really stretch her faith. She dreaded not having anything to share with her church next time they met.
This past weekend, Marlene's nephew got sick. As is the custom here when a loved one needs medical attention, the family pools their resources to help pay the needed medical costs. Marlene had received $60 from her family to purchase the needed medications. She stuck the money in her jeans pocket and headed off to the pharmacy. When it was time to pay, she stuck her hand in her pocket, but the money was GONE! The money must have accidentally fallen out. Marlene quickly left the pharmacy and retraced her steps. With the crowds on the street there was little chance the money would still be found.
After walking awhile, she saw in the distance a woman reach down and pick up what was clearly the money she had dropped. Marlene's heart dropped as she saw the woman doing the Catholic "sign of the cross" in gratitude to God for her good fortune--$60 (about 2-weeks wages)!!!
Marlene was crushed at being so close to retrieving her money and yet how was she to convince the woman it was the money she had dropped? As she approached the woman, Marlene remembered that the church had agreed to ask God to "test their faith" in order to see the power of God at work. She boldly approached the woman and told her that the money she had found belonged to her and to please give it back. Expecting a confrontation, or at least an argument, Marlene was surprised that the woman simply gave back the money without incident. This kind of thing simply doesn't happen here! Marlene's faith had been tested and God had once again proven in a very real way that He indeed takes care of his own.
Team member, Pedro, was next...
He shared he had won to the Lord a man and wife infected with HIV. Their youngest of four children is also infected. "Luis" has no work and spends most of his days too sick to even get out of bed. He and his wife have no medical help. They live in extreme poverty. Even so, Pedro and the believers in his house church do what they can to help Luis and his family. Pedro personally travels across town each week to disciple the young couple in their new-found faith. Pedro reports they even though they are physically weak, their spirits are vibrant and their faith strong.
Recently, Luis was very ill and dwindled down to around 80 lbs. He could barely get out of bed, but insisted on going out into the city and try to find something to feed his family with that day. His wife thought he was crazy, but Luis told her, "God always provides."
Luis went out and stood on a street corner where a man was selling pirated CDs. A buyer bought a couple of CDs and paid with a $5 bill. The owner of the "business" didn't have change so Luis offered to watch over his merchandise while he went to find some change. Luis assured him he was a Christian and that nothing would happen while he was gone. The customer heard him and told Luis he was also a Christian.
When the owner returned with the change, the customer gave the $3 change to Luis. He explained that God had impressed upon him, even before buying the CDs, that he was to give the change to the first person that he came in contact with after the purchase. Luis was that person! Luis was overjoyed in the Lord. God had provided him with enough to feed his family for one more day.
This Thanksgiving as we gather with friends and loved ones to give thanks for the bountiful blessings we enjoy, let us remember Christ's words in Matthew 6,
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
...So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
When was the last time you asked God to stretch your faith?