Like Those Who Dream: Chapter 17, Central Mexico
-Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow
In our journey of faith with the Lord we discover, many times over, that our plans must be His plans, our goals must be His goals, and our schedule must be His schedule. We don’t decide what we are to do or when we are to do it. Once we hear from God, it is our responsibility to follow, not to lead; to listen, not to debate; to trust, not to reason. God is not impressed with our efforts to try and help him out or give Him council. When He says “Go” He knows what is ahead and is never taken by surprise. If He didn’t know what would be ahead or what He would do beforehand, He would never send us or tell us to follow Him.
After our time with Don and Bev in Baja, the four of us briefly returned to the Los Angeles area to make final plans to leave for Central Mexico. When all was ready and God had given us the “green light”, we once again climbed into the front cab of our pickup truck and headed east. Our plan was to visit friends and family in South Dakota and Minnesota before turning Southward toward Mexico. Our destination in Mexico was a city called Matehuala, in the state of San Luis Potosi. We had no idea how much money was needed to take our trip and fulfill all our goals, but when we sensed it was God’s time to leave, we stepped with the resources available to us at the time.
Our drive east was uneventful, although beautiful. Climbing and winding our way through the Rocky Mountains was exhilarating and the views breathtaking. We eventually found our way to the home of our friends, a pastor and his wife who worked in a small church in rural South Dakota. We pulled into their driveway on our last tank of gas and our financial resources depleted.
We had a great visit, shared stories, enjoyed dinner together, and were invited to spend the night in their home. In the morning we had breakfast together, packed up our things, loaded the back of the truck with our suitcases, and settled back into the cab of the pickup, not knowing how far down the road our last tank of gas would take us.
As we were about to turn the key to start up the engine and pull out of the driveway, our pastor friend walked up to the cab, leaned his head into the driver’s side window and said, “I’ve had some “hot tithe money” that I’ve been keeping for awhile. I’ve been wondering who the Lord wanted me to give it to and now I know.” He then reached into his pocket, pulled out some cash, and handed it to us. The money turned out to be the exact amount we needed to get us to Minneapolis, the next stop on our journey.
During our brief visit to Minneapolis we were all invited to a fellowship group that met in someone’s home. The person who invited us asked if we would share our story and how God was leading us. The home was warm and friendly and the room was full. After prayer and some worship, Don and I gave our testimonies and told the group about our plans to go into Mexico. We also told the story about the gift of our pickup truck.
After we finished a stranger in the room spoke up, “I am really excited to hear these testimonies and the details of their story. Over the past few weeks God has been speaking to me during my prayer time to intercede for some people I didn’t know. All I knew was to pray for Don and Roy, a pickup truck, and Mexico. It wasn’t until tonight that I understood what those prayers were all about and who they were for.” His words amazed us all! It gave us a special insight into how God uses the Body of Christ, sometimes in unseen and unknown ways, to meet the needs of His people.
After our time in Minneapolis we turned the pickup south and continued our journey toward Mexico. With the offering we received from the home meeting and a cash gift from a friend we had enough money to make it into Mexico and arrive at our destination in Matehuala. We even had enough left over to rent a small apartment in the city.
Matehuala was a sleepy city nestled between the mountains in Central Mexico. It was located in the high desert with very little vegetation or irrigation (it was quite a contrast from Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes.) The landscape was dotted with cactus and Mesquite trees. Off the main road were scores of dirt trails that led into the back country and the many villages (small towns) that populated the area. The villagers were poor people who lived in adobe brick houses with dirt floors and simple furnishings.
Once we got settled in Matehuala we often took trips to the villages in the back country with other missionaries and Mexican believers in the city. Our trips included visiting with people in their homes, and inviting those in the village to a Gospel meeting that would be held in the early evening. Through these visits relationships were established, new believers began to follow Christ, and small groups of believers began to meet together in homes. In some of the larger villages, where the work had been established, adobe church buildings became a part of the village community.
On one of our trips we visited a village that was just beginning to open up to the Gospel. When we first arrived we went from house to house greeting and inviting people to a meeting we would be having in the village that evening. As a result, a small group of people attended. Many in the village were still very cautious and we saw little response to our message. Afterwards, Don and I were walking to our truck when a woman came up to us with an urgent request…
“Can you come to our house? Our son has been sick for several days. He hasn’t eaten and is burning with fever. Can you please come and pray for him?”
Don and I followed her to a tiny adobe house in the center of the village. As we entered the front door we noticed several other family members standing about. The soft flicker of candlelight cast dancing shadows upon the wall and dimly lit the room. In the corner of the room was a small bed. The young boy was stretched out on top of a sheet with his head resting on the pillow. As we approached the motionless child I wondered what would happen. All eyes in the room were upon us as we stood over the child. Don began to pray in Spanish and we both extended our hands, placing them upon the child. My hand was directly on the child’s forehead. I instantly felt the heat from the fever. As Don continued praying I began to feel the forehead of the child cooling. By the end of the prayer the fever had vanished. As I removed my hand from the child’s forehead he instantly sat up, started crying, and called out to his mother, “I’m hungry.” The people in the room began celebrating as the mother immediately brought the child some food and drink. The incident impacted the entire village and opened the door for the Gospel to be preached and received into the hearts of many.
During our time in Mexico there were many new lessons of faith to learn. Our income during that time was very limited. We averaged about $75 a month of promised support, and lived on a total income of less than $1000 for the entire year. Before going into Mexico we assumed we would have plenty of financial support, however, to our surprise, most of the support we received came from people who had small incomes of their own—a grandmother on social security, a retired missionary, or an occasional money gift from someone who gave sacrificially were the norm.
On one occasion we received a somewhat apologetic letter from a young missionary candidate who enclosed a $1 bill. “I’m sorry this couldn’t be more, but it is all I have at the moment. I’m sending it because I believe the Lord told me that you need it.” Her $1 bill came on a day when we had no food. Her “little gift” turned out to be God’s big provision for our food that day. It was all a part of God’s way of teaching us to look to Him for our needs and not to people. The timing of God and the ways He uses to meet our needs always affirms His love and care for us.
One of the foundation pieces that Char and I agreed upon when we got married was not to get into debt, but rather to trust the Lord to meet our needs through answered prayer. Sometimes our lessons of faith meant learning to live without many things and being content with what we had. With a very limited income I valued every dollar we received. Learning to trust God each day was building my faith in what God could do. One day, however, God drew attention to something in my life that was to test my faith on a whole new level. Here is what I sensed the Lord saying, “You have been looking to Me to provide your needs, but you have not been giving to others. I want you to start giving.”
This was something new for me to consider. I thought I was doing great just living from dollar to dollar, but now the Lord was asking me to give to others a portion of the money I was receiving. I was reluctant to do this at first, thinking I needed every penny to survive. It was a great victory for me when I was finally able to release a portion of my income and start giving to others. I had no idea of the blessings that would come to us as a result.
As the Scripture says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38
After we had been in Mexico for several months I joined two other missionaries on an exploratory trip to Oaxaca. Our purpose was to see if there were any missionaries in the city and what type of ministry work they were doing. It was a long, difficult trip through high mountain ranges over narrow mountain roads. We were halfway through the mountains when we heard a loud explosion. The truck jerked to the right and we immediately knew we had a tire blowout. The driver quickly slowed the truck and parked as close as he could to the side of the mountain. After setting the emergency brake the three of us got out to inspect the damage.
“The tire is completely ruined,” said Jerry, the one who was doing the driving, “I cannot repair it and I have no spare. There’s nothing I can do.”
We stood there, at peace but completely puzzled. We let down the tailgate of the truck and used it for a bench. Together we prayed, asking God for help. No sooner had we said “Amen” when an oversized van came around the bend of the road and pulled up behind us. Out stepped a tall American. He introduced himself and asked if he could be of any help. After telling him our story he smiled and said, “I think I have an extra tire in the back of my van that is the same size as yours. Let me check.” A few moments later he returned rolling a tire. It was the exact size we needed!
He stayed with us while we changed tires. As we talked we discovered he was a missionary who lived in Oaxaca. He had been in the States for about six weeks and was returning to the city. He invited us to come to his home when we arrived in Oaxaca…
this stranger became the friend the Lord used to fulfill the purpose of our journey in every detail.
Our time in Mexico was short-lived. We were there for less than two years. Although there was no question about Don and Bev’s call to Mexico, it became clear to Char and me that God had other things in mind for us.
When we first entered Mexico we thought we were going to help change the lives of others. In reality, we were the ones in need of change. Going into a foreign country didn’t make us any more spiritual or change who we were. Our time in Mexico was a testing and training time to learn more about God’s ways in order to prepare us for what He had ahead.
(Join us next week as we continue this journey of Roy's memoir, Like Those Who Dream. The book is available through DaySpring and Christian retailers everywhere.)
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