Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And Then There Was One

Deep in the heart of the city of Caracas Venezuela is a Christian church struggling for its next breath, struggling like a swimmer out of breath with arms flailing just to get to the surface, and now in its last gasp the few believers left after the slow exodus say enough. If you thought I was going to inform you that this was the beginning of a new birth, you'd be wrong. Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, it does. Then the last blow, the pastor and his wife leave for the easier land with the others.

The land is hard, drugs, open flirtation, sex, prostitution, brokenness, occult practices, and homeless people everywhere. When the pastor and his wife left, there WAS ONLY ONE person to left standing. As I sit here listening to my new friend, Jesus Sanchez, recount the story my mind immediate reels back to a sermon I heard a friend, Jerry McCollough, preach on 2 Samuel 23:11-12. Shammah was such a man. Not the leader but not a leaver. This story could be a blockbuster movie, the story of a single man defending a bean field. It was small BUT IT WAS HIS. In the face of charging enemies, an army he was part of fleeing in fear, a lone man stands his ground, tightens his grip around his sword and charges. Being a man who loves war movies I see 'Brave Heart', I see 'The Patriot'.

What rises up in a person that when their very life, family, possessions seem like certain loss; deep inside courage is summoned, focus is found, boldness engaged? We all have been there and so was this one lone believer in center city Caracas. When pastor Jesus in a city ten hours away heard of the situation a decision to help was made. Almost within hours challenges began for pastor Jesus culminating when a bus full of volunteers going to Caracas to help became stranded as the motor blew up. Those on the bus began to doubt their mission and almost all decided it was not their place to go and help. As a new bus was called to take the volunteers onward pastor Jesus shared his heart. He gripped his sword, stood his ground and issued a decree, "This new bus is headed to the promised land. Those who want to go back to Egypt can take your bags and find you way home." As everyone filled the new bus not a word was spoken. After an hour of driving a soft song of praise began to circulate. Soon full worship ensued. The sword of the word was in full swing.

Days and weeks followed of intense warfare. There were gains and losses but leaders can be defiant and the new emerging leader, Alex was such a man. No, was not in his vocabulary. With full reliance on God slow gains were made. One by one other's found courage and faith form the most unlikely places. The homeless, addicts, prostitutes, broken men, women and children began to have hope. One by one they came. As I listened to pastor Alex, the courageous man who is an unlikely person to assume the roll as the new pastor in the Caracas Church, we agree God uniquely prepared him. Today the growth is slow but with more than forty new members his church's light is burning bright in a community decimated with discarded worthless people (in the eyes of man) but precious in His eyes. 

When all seems lost remember God’s eyes are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their call. Take courage.

This is your investment. This is your joy.

If you are touched by what God is doing would you partner with us and consider a special gift to the work. You can send contributions to: United World Mission, PO Box 602002, Charlotte NC 28260-2002 and write ACCT# 11013 in the memo line. Further info about on-line giving and other programs see www.uwm.org. Thank you to our present supports that allow us to impact the many lives across the planet. Again, THANKS!

Mark and Cathy Szymanski
2011 Watlington Drive
Charlotte NC 28270

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