Sunday, April 15, 2007

Life on a Hillside

This morning, Victor (one of our helpers) and I went to a section of town called Las Torres de la Rinconada. It means, "The Towers in the Corner." It's a very appropriate name. The community is up on a high hill, towering over the other communities. We are helping them with a community development project. This area is a high-risk landslide zone. So we are using general relief funds, given by Southern Baptists for this kind of work, to build retaining walls and sets of stairs up and down the very steep hills.

It's a hard life that they have to live. There is no running water in this part of our city. What lights they have are from makeshift connections, pulled from a part of town where there are power cables. In other words, they steal the electricity from an electrified zone. So the wires are thin, mostly useless for the long distances they have to pull the power.

Today we went to check on the progress of the work and then to lead those interested in a Bible study. Some 35 adults, plus a few small children came to the study. It was a precious sight to see. Some of them actually knew something about the Bible. Others seemed to know the Lord. Victor taught. He shared a lesson about the Law of God. The whole point, of course, is that the Law cannot save; only Jesus saves. When his lesson culminated in the plan of salvation, about half the adults indicated that they wanted to repent and place their faith in the Lord Jesus. It was a blessed moment, but a short-lived one.

As we took time to register the professions of faith, one of the residents of the community called to me from outside. She looked concerned. She looked very concerned. Her name, incidently, is Mercy. Mercy told me that a 14-year-old boy had fallen some 2 hours earlier and could not get up. I called out and had one of the men go up and bring him down so that we could take him to the hospital. We were in Victor's borrowed car. The boy's name is Junior. We laid him on the back seat, borrowed some oil from a store owner, anointed the boy, and prayed for him. Then we drove like crazy to the hospital.

The boy could not feel his legs, though he did have some motion. He cried with fear. He trembled. My prayer all the way to the hospital was that God not let that boy die. He is old enough to know that he is a sinner. We did not believe today was the appropriate time to share the gospel with him, or with his mother. Some may use such an emotional moment. I did not want a "fox-hole conversion." I want to see Junior up and walking, and able to listen to the gospel. So I prayed for healing and for his life. Mercy rode in the back seat, along with Carlos, the man who carried Junior to the car.

We take so much for granted. We have so much that we often become blind to the reality that grips others. As one man said to me yesterday, if someone is poor and has Jesus, he is just a poor man. If, on the other hand, he is poor and does not know the Lord, he is in misery. God help us remember what is was like to be miserable! And God help us to be able to rejoice with those who rejoice, but weep with those who weep!

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