I returned Saturday from two weeks in the West coast migrant labor camps of Mexico. Forty people (mostly University students from the Flagstaff, AZ. Area) dedicated their holiday break time and at their own expense came prepared to visit the migrant labor camps with gospel films, and audio cassettes in Indian languages. Some of this group have done this every year now for several, so they were well prepared. Jose and Cande’s family received them with Joy, and added another 10 0r 12 members, dedicated, and well prepared. We went out by teams 4 teams most nights, making 33 visits to 27 camps in 9 nights. We were allowed of God to distribute more than 1800 audio cassettes in more than 70 languages, and preach the gospel to many thousands of unchurched people.
Many of these people have almost certainly never heard the gospel before, since they do not speak any language but that of their own small group, and there are no churches or preachers working in those languages. In other cases the individuals have committed their lives to Christ, but the circumstance of living without the preaching of the word, and without the benefit of fellowship in these camps has discouraged them and we have been allowed of God to encourage our brothers and sisters in some very difficult situations.
The economic needs of this whole trip were met and exceeded during the time of the trip, by gifts from other missionaries. In addition gifts were received from several regular partners who are not missionaries themselves. It seems strange, not that missionaries are givers, (of course they are), but that their giving should so completely overshadow the giving of the rest of the church. Especially since so many missionaries are already near the bottom end of the economic scale. Could it be that they understand something that many others are missing? Perhaps something about the heart of God for the Lost of this world.
Mayo Ibarra is a dedicated young man, and an accomplished musician in Sinaloa, Mexico who has dedicated his life and time to ministering to the migrant laborers in the camps. As we were traveling together, he was softly strumming his guitar, and singing: “There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold….” (but in Spanish – it comes out the same). I love that song. But it occurred to me that it is not quite accurate. The actual text says: “Lu 15:4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” In the Wilderness! (Spanish says: “en el desierto”.) Now what kind of lesson can the Lord be driving at? Does He really think that a shepherd ought to leave his flock in the wilderness or desert to go seek one lost sheep? Is it possible that he meant to shock us by that expression, so as to compel us to a viewpoint beyond ourselves?
On every hand I see the teaching and practice of “making disciples”. Why is it then that we see so few who are really following Christ, and so many that are playing “follow the leader”? Baptists have Baptist disciples, Pentecostals have Pentecostal disciples, Methodist have Methodist disciples, etc. And then there are those who name themselves “Disciples of Christ” but in reality are playing the same game with different leaders. Where are those who are really disciples of Christ?
Some Christians recently complained to me that they were left as “orphans” (their word – not mine) because their ‘pastor’ had left, and their church was “without a pastor”. Well, an “orphan” is someone without mother or father, and the man who left had never been either father or mother to them. But Father God had not left! So how are they orphans? And “pastor” means “shepherd”. So since “The Lord is my Shepherd.” How can they say that they were “without a pastor”? Is it possible that when you win someone to Christ and in doing so teach him to win someone to Christ that you are making disciples for Christ? Repeated stories have been told about how that when the missionaries had to leave China that the church there began to mature and to grow. Can it be that the act of leaving them “in the wilderness” with their heavenly Father and Shepherd, and bathing them in prayer while we go somewhere else to seek the lost sinner, is the best thing that we can do for them? Is it possible that by staying on and continuing to teach and control we are making disciples for ourselves instead of for Jesus Christ?
I am not suggesting that we stop caring for them, or praying for them. Exactly the opposite. I am suggesting that the healthiest model for Christian living that they will ever get from you or I they get in the first dramatic exposure when the Holy Spirit of God uses you to get their attention and turn them in repentance to the Savior. Your most effective ministry after that is to keep modeling that zealous evangelism, and get out of the way of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, while you pray incessantly for them. It appears from Acts 17 that Paul and his company were in Thessalonica less than a month. But the disciples of Thessolonica were among the most zealous witnesses of all the churches (see first Thessalonians 1:5-10)
Let us then not be afraid to cut loose men and resources to finish the job in our generation of taking the gospel to every creature! As a favorite cartoon character is often quoted as saying; “ “Times a wastin’!”, and we are plainly told that this is the will of our soon coming King.
God willing I (Dave) will soon be departing on a trip to parts east. I expect to be in Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, and points between here and there during the next month or so. If you or your church, family, or prayer group would like to hear “up close and personal” about what God is doing and wants to do among the poorest of the poor in Mexico, let me know as soon as possible by email, with some detail about schedule and contacts, and I’ll see if I can oblige. Then I hope to be back in time to conduct outreach to the migrant camps of the Caborca Sonora area before the asparagus season is over there. Please continue to pray for us, and for these tremendous doors of opportunity, that workers and supporters will be found to respond while there is time.
Yours for Him,
Dave and Ella McMullen
Dave & Ella McMullen, 4 Strong Row, Bisbee, AZ 85603
Email: mailto:DM at IamHis.today;
Internet Site: http://www.IamHis.today
~~~~~~”To the poor the gospel….”~~~~~~~~~
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