Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Deanna ministers in Tuxpan, Mexico

Thursday morning of last week, my contact, Anabel, asked me if I would sit down with a pastor and his wife at dinner time and talk for a few moments. She reminded me of a conversation I had with her back in November when we were together at our Missions Conference. She asked me if I remembered. I remembered the mans name but not why I might be meeting with him.

When ministry was finished that day, we arrived back at the church (where we eat and sleep). The pastor and his wife were there. I sat down with them. I tried to make small talk, but they seemed nervous. They spoke no English, and my Spanish while improving, did not allow for free flowing conversation.

I asked about their children, to which they shot each other a pained glance,before answering that they had none.

I knew I had somehow hurt them, but had no idea what I had done.

I was very distracted at dinner, as I had to give direction to my team for the evening, and had to get up several times to take care of things. Before sitting back down with them, I found Anabel and asked, "Why am I meeting with them?"

She pulled me aside and asked again if I remembered our conversation back in November. I told her, I remember you mentioning the man's name, but not why we would get together.

She said, "they lost their only son, 10 months ago."

All of my breath escaped! I had asked them if they had children! Surely they thought I was a buffoon for such an impropriety! They knew why we were together and assumed I knew. How then would I ask such a calloused question?

I grabbed a translator (who had just arrived), and we retreated into an office. It turns out, we were meeting together on this precious mother's birthday. Their names are Rogelio and Alejandra. Their sons name was Jonathon.

I apologized profusely, and explained the situation. I felt like a cad unworthy of their forgiveness in those moments.

Honestly, I hated being put in this position. I knew the only chance for any healing to occur was if the Holy Spirit took over this situation I was making a mess of.

I began to ask questions about their son, to get them talking.

He was a musician, who was the worship leader at the church his father pastored. He was full of life and loved by all. He was only 14 when he passed. He was very handsome. He was uncommonly mature for his young age. He was very close to the Lord. So close, that he received what he prayed for, routinely! He was almost 15 when he slipped home to be with his Heavenly Father. He died from cancer.

The pain of the recent passing pressed forward from their strained expressions. They fought back tears, not letting any escape...though I felt surely the dam would soon burst. I hurt so deeply for them.

I asked how their son liked to celebrate birthdays.

A smile creased Alejandra's lips.

She began to tell me a story. She spoke of how he liked to have cake and open gifts in their family way (I was amazed at how similar it was to our own). She said, birthdays were very important to him. So much so, that his cell phone had gone off at midnight (just a few hours before our meeting) to alert him of his mother's birthday!

I fought back tears, but lost the battle quickly. I could not believe this gift! I spoke through my weeping about what a blessing it was to receive this birthday wish 10 months after his passing!

I explained that Deanna and I enjoyed surprise memories that came over time, and that this one was clearly unique and completely unexpected! I told them how special this was.

The dam burst, and the floods came.

Over the next minutes we would laugh and cry together. Our hearts were to be forever hemmed together over this experience that neither of us pursued. I told a story, then they told a story. I would ask questions, and they would ask questions.

I told them that my friend Mark Magers was with me on this trip, and he had lost his only son just seven months ago. I told them his son Justin's, story. I told them about Pastor Tito in Peru, and how dynamic his ministry became after the death of his son. I knew I was walking a fine line and tried not to press them into some sort of mold or pattern, but wanted them to see that God's blessings are poured into those who remain faithful to Him, in the wake of tragedy.

Translators generally speak one sentence or so at a time when translating. In this situation, we were speaking in full paragraphs and pages and our rookie translator was missing nothing. Clearly, the Holy Spirit was present! I was in awe of how the Lord had taken over and soothed where my blunder could have been devastating.

I gave them a copy of our book and let them know that I regretted that it was not printed in Spanish, but that it had photos of my son and my family within it's pages.

They gave me a photo of their son, and told me a final story.

Jonathon was a prayer warrior. He wanted an electric guitar to lead worship with. He had told his parents, but they had reminded him they did not have the money for it. He told them that God would provide.

He found a picture of the guitar he wanted in a magazine. He showed it to his parents and cut it out. Then he tucked it into his Bible marking that speaks to God hearing the prayers and providing for the faithful (I believe it is Psalm 34).

Time passed.

Jonathon worked with different groups from the USA that came to minister. A group from Temple, Texas that partnered with his church heard him once mention in passing his desire.

His parents were overwhelmed and yet learned from their son's faithfulness, when that very guitar was presented to Jonathon as a gift!

He used it to bring Glory to God!

I look forward to hugging the neck of my brother Jonathon Hernandez, when my time to go home comes.

God took home another amazing young man, mature beyond his years! His life is bringing hope and encouragement to that of many others.

Moments before his passing, he spoke with his parents and told them not to be frightened. He was unafraid, and ready to go home to meet his Savior. He was spared the pain associated with the final stages of cancer. He was not bitter, but was thankful for the life he had been given.

I praise God for this encounter. I am changed because of it. I love my brother and sister, Rogelio and Alejandra!

As we closed in prayer, a river ran beneath our feet, but joy filled our hearts!



At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much of life transcends boundaries of culture and language. You ministered to each other in ways nobody else could have. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story even if mist rolled heavily from my eyes as well. BTW, this old Hoosier is cheering for Coach Painter and the boys from W Lafayette! \0/

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great story!

God Bless.


Post a Comment

<< Home