International Ministries

Tied Together

March 19, 2014 Journal
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Calvary Baptist of Newark, DE sent their fourth mission team to La Paz this month.  Two of the women on the team have been on all four trips, and one for 3 of the four.  So, each of their trips continues to build on previous relationships while also cementing new friendships.


On their first trip to La Paz, the mission team partnered with the church Principe de Paz.  They made strong connections with several of the children, and continued to stay in touch with them over the years through email and Facebook.  One of the kids they connected with was Gabriela.  Melanie said, “She ran to meet us every day.  She was bright and full of laughter.”  Several months before their scheduled trip for 2014, they heard heart-breaking news: Gabriela had died.  Fourteen years old, she had been struck by a car when crossing the street and never recovered from her injuries.  Melanie shared that being able to hug Gabriela’s mother in person, and to communicate her own grief over the loss of this beautiful young woman, was a privilege and an honor.  Oscar Wilde said, “Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.”  The team experienced holy ground as they wept together with members of Principe de Paz.


On their second trip to La Paz, the mission team made a strong connection with Ruben and Carolina Gamez.  This was because we weren’t here!  David was undergoing open heart surgery in the states and we had to scramble to find others to cover our scheduled mission teams.  Ruben and Carolina, two of our bi-lingual Mexican friends, stepped up to the challenge.  Ruben and Carolina waited for years to conceive a child.  And after ten years of waiting and hoping, God open Carolina’s womb and she gave birth to a little boy last November.  Leilani shared , “Our team had prayed over Ruben and Carolina, asking God to bless them with a child. Holding Joel was holding an answered prayer. What a blessing to finally meet him!”


During their first trip to La Paz, the mission team participated in a ministry called Care for Kids La Paz which provides breakfast and scholarships for children in poverty.  Their church has since sponsored three children through this charity.  Each time they come to visit, they make a point of visiting the breakfast program, as well as the sponsored child and his/her family.

This year they visited Yera’s family.  She lives with her younger sister and grandparents in a small cement home with a tin roof.  The family graciously served the team homemade tamales.  As they visited, the team learned more about the family’s circumstances.  The grandfather, Delfino, had been a successful businessman on the mainland.  But then, the drug cartels moved into town and began to extort money, threatening kidnappings and murder if he didn’t cooperate.  Eventually his son was kidnapped and the ransom demanded was exorbitant.  His son managed to escape his captors without harm, and they all fled to the Baja, literally leaving everything behind.

They have been in La Paz for three years and Delfino, who is 70, cannot find work.  His son is working in Cabo San Lucas and supporting the family with what he’s earning.  Delfino said, “I want to work.  I have lots of experience.  I am still strong.  But no one will hire me.”  The team asked David how they might help him and he said, “You could invite him to participate in your work project at the Theological School and pay him for his labor.”  So they did!

Delfino showed up every day for five days, and he wasn’t lying, he was a capable, experienced worker.  David saw him swing a sledgehammer with more strength than college students standing beside him.  Shy, but with a beautiful smile, Delfino captured the hearts of the work team.  He is not a Christian, so they prayed that his time with them would not only be a blessing, but also that his experience with the other Christian Mexican laborers would open his heart towards God.

Tyler shared, “My father died a year ago.  Delfino reminded me of my dad, his work ethic, the twinkle in his eye. He is what made the difference in my life this week. I’m glad we could offer him work beyond just sponsoring his grand-daughter.  We offered him a way to contribute, to regain his self-respect.”

Carol commented, “Money can only do so much.  Investment in people is another matter.  A relationship with Delfino wouldn’t have happened without us being here in person.”

To Walk With You

Authors Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert in their book “When Helping Hurts” challenge us to examine our motivations when we participate in mission experiences.  They say that we need to think beyond giving money and accomplishing projects.  A far more costly solution is to develop relationships.  Churches need to develop relationships that say, “We are here to walk with you and to help you use your gifts and abilities to avoid being in this situation in the future.  Let us into your life and let us work with you to determine the reason you are in this predicament.”

This mission team spent hours learning how to tie rebar together to build girders that would support a roof.  It was hard, demanding work.  Nadine, 81 years old, jumped right in beside Jade in her early 20s.  The Mexican men commented, “We’ve never seen women do this kind of work.  They’re amazing!” 

But this team was doing more than tying rebar together.  They were tying their hearts together with the hearts of the Mexican people.  David commented that all the rebar they tied together was now hidden in the cement of the roof, no one could see it, but it would support a structure for years to come.  So too with the relationships they established.  They may never see Delfino again this side of heaven, but because the foundation of their friendship is cemented in Jesus, they can trust God to send others to build on what they started.  “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12b)

“Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.  Before our Father’s throne, we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares.  When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; but we shall be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.”  (Blest Be the Tie that Binds by John Fawcett)