By Heather Molina
Our spring season has come and gone, and though we had no groups this year, there was certainly no lack of activity! We spent our spring working on the House of Refuge process, planning for summer groups & ministry, and executing our two biggest activities this month – Project Unity, and our Children’s Day surprise!
This was our fourth Project Unity and we were really encouraged by the pastors’ renewed interest and enthusiasm in doing the project together. Last year our numbers were very low, but this year we had over 20 pastors and wives along with a few leaders who participated over the course of the week. Of that number, a few were participating for the first time – some who are new pastors in the area and have just begun to involve themselves in the ministry, and some who have been involved but have never been able to participate in the project before.
It is always such a joy for us to see how the pastors relate to each other outside of the church or ministry setting. Amidst the hard work, there were plenty of jokes, light-hearted teasing, and a lot of laughter. We love to see the bond of companionship being formed among these pastors as they get to know each other in a new way during the project.
Something unique about Project Unity (other than the pastors’ factor) is that we are intentional about selecting a family that is not necessarily Christian or affiliated with any specific church. We do this for two reasons – to maintain “neutral ground” as the pastors work together, but also because we see it as an amazing opportunity for the pastors to minister and witness to a family that needs Jesus. This project was certainly no exception, as the family that was chosen was in a very hard, dark situation. Veronica (a single mom) and her family’s lives were turned upside down just over two years ago when her daughter Nubia (26 years old) got in a serious car accident and survived but came out completely unresponsive. She cannot move, she can’t speak, she is fed through a tube, and it is unknown how much she understands because she is unable to show signs of response. Nubia has a 7-year-old little girl, so Veronica took on the impossibly heavy load of working as a single mom, taking care of her other kids, taking care of Nubia and her extensive medical needs, and Nubia’s daughter. We were told by the pastors that had interacted with Veronica before the build that she was carrying a large load of bitterness, and knowing her story I could only think, “and rightfully so…” I cannot imagine the burden she has carried and all of the doubts and fears and sorrows that have entered her heart. Because of all the medical costs that have come along with Nubia’s condition, they were obviously in need of a house, but much more than the physical need being provided, Veronica and her family needed the hope and love of God to lift that darkness they have been living under.
This year I felt that more than any other year, the pastors were so attuned to that need. They were so intentional, taking every opportunity to talk with Veronica, to speak words of life, to pray with her, to make her laugh, to give her hope. And after a week with our dear pastors, we could see her soften. Please continue to pray with us for a miracle for Nubia, but more importantly for a true encounter with Jesus for Veronica and her daughters – we are trusting that the week of Project Unity softened the soil and we’re thankful that when these pastors say they will follow up, they will. We are looking forward to seeing what else God does in the lives of Veronica and her family, and we are so thankful to see yet again a growing sense of unity and companionship among the pastors we work with.
Here in Mexico, April 30this celebrated as Children’s Day. We have worked with a little elementary school in a community called Paraiso on multiple occasions, and having formed that relationship, we wanted to do something special for their kids. We are so thankful for all of those who donated to this campaign that allowed us to give a gift to over 150 kids! Each gift was a draw-string bag with the ministry logo containing a children’s bible, a colouring book and crayons, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
When we arrived at the school, the kids were jittering in anticipation but were quick to pay attention when the director allowed me to share some words with them. I told them that we celebrate them and their lives. I told them that people all the way in Canada were thinking of them and wanted to make this day special for them. And I finished by telling them that each one of them is unique, valued and loved.
The kids were thrilled as we handed out the gifts and they looked inside their bags. Some pulled out the bible and began to flip through the pages. All of them smiled big as we took photos and told them that soon we would be back with a group to spend time with them. We are just so thankful that in a place where the gospel would not usually be allowed in schools, the door was opened for us at this one. The director is always inviting us back, thankful and appreciative of everything we do for his kids. We pray that the bibles those kids took home will be read and will take root in their lives, and we look forward to the opportunity to water the seeds when we go back with groups to spend time with the kids in May.