I know everyone is excited to hear details about the trip to Yucatán. For sure each of us fell in love with Izamal, and I sincerely hope each of you gets to go at some point over the coming years as we partner with Missionaries Charles and Mary Lee. But I see how God was preparing me beforehand in some of our recent Quiet Time (QT) reading, so I am going to start with that.
In the recent Quiet Time passages (Ephesians, Ruth, Philemon) I saw and cherished God’s plan of salvation is for all people groups.
· In Ephesians – there’s apparent surprise (“previously unrevealed”) that gentiles are included in God’s plan of salvation, but throughout Old Testament prophecies God’s plan of salvation covers all the world and in the New Testament, there’s language which signifies unity and equality among Christian brothers and sisters–such as “reconciling us to God together as one”, “fellow citizens with the saints”, “members of the household of God”, “built on the same foundation”. Not only is there this embrace of brother/sisterhood among people groups, but in Paul’s letter to Philemon, a slave becomes a brother, so this is a concept which spans all walks of life and all regions of the earth.
· One Old Testament specific example is also from our recent QT passage. Ruth was a non-Israelite being accepted, well-treated and included in Israel, and scripture makes a point to let us know that she accepted her Mother in Law’s God (Israel’s God); and Boaz, who accepted her even though she was a Moabite woman, is called “a man of noble character”… And God uses Ruth for his Glory, too… she bears Obed, the grandfather of King David, from whom Christ comes.
· This whole concept is foretold as something we will sing praise to God over in the future (Rev 5:9) And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,”
What I saw in Yucatán is a specific example of God’s love for a people group… not only a country or a tribe but even a small town… and this is the main point I wanted to share with you all … You will likely hear at least one of us talk about Missionary Mary Lee’s story of coming to Yucatán to be with Missionary Charles Lee and the condition of his home, and the struggles they went through, and how far they have come, and the impact they have since had on the children and community…. but I would like to share the story Missionary Charles Lee told me on the car ride back from a town not even on google maps… he told me that years ago he met a proud Mayan man who was very resistant to even speak Spanish with him. So he tried to learn Mayan but was rejected from the school because he was not Mayan. Still he persisted in friendship and slowly the man started to accept Don Carlos [Missionary Lee] as a friend, and opened up to speaking Spanish with him, and eventually hearing, and finally accepting the Gospel. This man is the father of the now-pastor who we went to visit and the majority of their family have come to know Christ. Seeing them embrace, their philia love is so apparent. This shows me God’s great love for this Mayan family by sending Missionary Lee to reach them…. Over much time and through much persistence in love. God’s love for Izamal and the surrounding areas was something I sensed strongly by sending not only Missionaries Charles and Mary Lee, but all of the staff at Bethel International Christian Academy (BICA)… and it touched me deeply.
Another way that God prepared me in ways that paralleled my experience in Yucatán is when we shared our stories with the students (as Paul mentioned one of them asked how we have changed, knowing God) I felt lead instead of sharing what we had practiced in our team meeting before leaving, about how reading God’s word daily has been something which has changed for me in the past few years, and how I could always (even as a child) feel or sense God’s love, but reading his word daily is how I know Him, and learn something new about Him… no matter how many times I read it, the Holy Spirit reveals something new. One of the things which inspired me right out the gate on the Yucatán trip is hearing Raul’s (the chemistry teacher who drove us from the Airport to BICA) response to Irene’s question “what do you love most about teaching at BICA” and he said “getting to talk about God and his word every day, all day.” He shared that in addition to Chemistry, he teaches an ethics class, but even in the Chemistry class, he can talk about God! The next day after sharing with the students, it was my turn to lead/share in our morning QT sharing…. Which was Luke 4:1-15, where Jesus is tempted and responds with Scripture each time. When the enemy’s final attempt uses that strategy against him, Jesus knows other scripture which untwists what the enemy had done to the scripture he quoted to Jesus (this is what I shared with the group). So the importance of scripture, and the love of God’s word is something which was at the forefront of my mind during the trip, and something which I was able to share (by the Spirit’s prompting) with the students, and affirmed in our QT reading the following day.
– Mary Johnston
* Read the Yucatan Mission Online Report here.