The men sat along the sidewalk next to the snack store, right across the street from the church. They just chatted, munched and watched. This group from a mountain village in Mexico had come to the children’s home as workers on a construction project. Our handyman had offered to get experienced workers from his home town. Little did we know these were Aztec descendants, some of whom still spoke the ancient language. They were so far from home that the barn, which was being remodeled into a home for orphaned and abandoned children, was their home away from home. They were shy, wary of our strange language and customs; they worked hard and remained detached. People in our mission were gracious and generous, when we saw needs we could meet. On Sunday, they followed us to church…from afar. And they were usually gone before our services were over.
One day a worker stepped on a rusty nail, which went right through his thin-soled tennis shoes and punctured his foot. My husband took him to the Dr. for a tetanus shot. As they chatted, he commented that he wished he could have been this close to a doctor when his son became ill and died. He shared that this toddler had died from an infected tooth. My husband was shocked. He wondered why a baby would die from an infected tooth when antibiotics are available. Then he learned that the nearest doctor is several hours’ walk away from his village. On the way home they picked up a better pair of work shoes for the man, and a friendship developed.
God worked through this experience in a way that eventually brought us an invitation to visit the village. Our mission doctor planned a weekend clinic, which offered medical services and nutritional supplements to the village. The only overt evangelistic effort was to place copies of the Book of John in the Aztec language on windowsills and around the waiting area. After a few months, this ‘understated’ evangelism hit home. Soon the leaders of the community asked to meet with the leaders of our mission.
In a humble but dignified and meaningful ceremony, the community leaders officially identified the missionaries from the mission as members of their community. The mission holds the legal document that ascertains this standing. Now a strong church is growing there. Why would such a thing happen…that US missionaries, missionaries who were citizens of Mexico, and a group of indigenous people in a tiny village in the mountains of Mexico become one?
In the words of the village leaders, “We watched how you treated the children in your mission. We noticed how you treated us, so we knew that you lived what you preached.”
“How could you know what we preached?” we asked, “we never saw you at our services.”
“Oh, we were there. We saw you,” they answered.
Who is watching you? Who is watching me? Those who don’t know Christ as their Savior see and hear much more than we think they do. Pray with me, to the One who came to seek and to save the lost, that what they see, and hear causes them to draw near.