By Ed & Denise Aulie —
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
No truer words of the Lord’s kindness could have been declared as we rejoiced while young and old believers, unashamedly, were baptized in a nearby river. Sometimes with quivering lips, they spoke for all to hear and some with smiles as wide as the river, they declared God’s works in their lives. These lives are in a little corner of the world but fully viewed by the Lord. “You are a God of seeing. Truly, here I have seen Him who looks after me” Genesis 16:13
Doña Lina. What is there not to marvel about with this woman? She has a husband who has been the absolute epitome of machismo all her married life. He had the final word on where and when she could go…and IF she could go…ANYWHERE. For decades she was not allowed to go to church. Then suddenly, permission was granted! By then her children and grandchildren had come to Jesus. What a tremendous praise to God we all felt the day she walked into church. She cried during the worship of her faithful Savior with many of her now believing family surrounding her.
On the day of the baptisms, she told her husband simply, “I’m going to the river.” He said sarcastically, “Well then, take a towel and bathe yourself.” Enough said. Doña Lina scurried herself out the door. She arrived to witnesses clapping for her with shouts of victory. One of her grandsons baptized her. Everyone knows what she has been through. Everyone knows she has been submissive even when she could have rightfully stood up to him. Everyone knows that she is working through this dilemma of honoring her husband in Christ but not being a doormat. It is taking time, but she is daily savoring her freedom in Christ, letting that freedom shine through with both respect and determination.
Anita had wanted to go to church for a long time. She told her boyfriend that she wanted to join him when he went on Sundays. Then he was murdered. The Sunday after his tragic death there she was- weeping, singing and giving her young heart to the Lord. We feel for Anita. Yet, even in the death of the one she thought she would marry, she is finding, as she wrote in a note to Denise, “new life in the family of God.”
Andrea was only 14 years old when she became pregnant. Her boyfriend came to church with her and to our amazement, they decided to give their young lives to the Lord. Living together is the norm in the Sierra, but these new believers planned a lovely, simple marriage ceremony attended by relatives and friends who had seen the change in them. Andrea´s young husband has stepped up to the plate ever since, working hard every day to make ends meet. She is at home with their little girl and studying. They have been faithful to seek the Lord. Andrea is 17 now – older, far more mature and committed to Jesus and her family. It really is beautiful to see!
Jireh was a quiet child who came to church since a toddler. His single Nahua mother decided to go to the States to earn more money. We counseled her not to and assured her God would help her here so as to not leave her son completely alone in their poor shack of a home. The pressures to leave from relatives who had gone Stateside, though, were intense, and off she went. She tried unsuccessfully to cross after borrowing a huge sum of money to pay a cartel. The night before the 3rd attempt she had a dream where she saw her son crying inconsolably. That did it. She came back to the village, found a job, and beamingly held her son in reunion joy.
Jireh, now 13, came to us asking to be baptized. It was as if this turn of events made him see his need for God’s all-powerful forgiveness and intervention in his life. As we stood on the banks of the river, everyone shouted for joy as he was the very first to walk down into the water. We have seen him serve and grow in the church since that moment – no longer timid, but with a spirit of power, love and self-discipline.
Asael is a beloved young man whom we have known since childhood. He drives a small taxi truck with a frame covered canvas. It has benches in the back for people he transports from one part of the Sierra to another. Sadly, Asael fell into temptation and sin during idle work hours. His young Nahua wife and infant daughter suffered because of his coldness and anger that resulted. However, he repented and has followed through with prayer, counseling and hard work keeping his marriage and family. He thanked the Lord and his wife publicly for their love. With his family he is continuing in the Lord. We have great hope in Jesus for dear Asael!
Eduardo had visited her Nahua parents since she was a child and they are noticing the change and devotion of their daughter, despite the hardships she has emotionally faced as a young woman. We pray for her future and trust in the hope God has truly given her.
Many more were baptized that day. They had waited anxiously for the skies to clear so this could happen. The day was a glorious one – with everyone bringing food afterward where we sat by the water and had so much fun visiting and playing in the river.
The church goes on. Despite ¨many a trial and snare” it goes on. To see the lives of young as well as old standing in their community for the truth of the Scriptures, for the visible love of God and for concern for the lives of their families and neighbors, is a transforming work only the Spirit of God can do. What an honor to be witnesses of this change from death to life, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.
Please pray for us as we continue with our team to plant and water – all the while knowing that it is God and only God who can give the increase.
May you be encouraged in your faith in Christ! — Ed and Denise
Ed and Denise Aulie are working primarily with indigenous peoples of Mexico – specifically the Nahuatl of Veracruz and the Ch’ol of Chiapas. They encourage Mexican churches in the areas of Biblical leadership and healthy godly church and family life interaction. They use practical projects relating to literacy, agriculture, building etc. to have a Word-Deed ministry. Sharing the Word of God in real life context is the key aspect of their ministry. For more, go here