An hour into our Bible Study/Discipleship group last night, I was startled by the sudden presence of a man standing in the window watching us. Our hostess jumped up explaining, “Here is my surprise for you all.” As she opened the door to welcome Manuel (named changed) into our group, I found that it would be the first moment of several over the next hour that I choked back my tears.
Manuel is a young man in his mid 20s who was in a very serious motorcycle accident earlier this year and was thought to be “just a heartbeat” who remained. The same hostess who “surprised” us last night with this visitor had asked us to accompany her to visit Manuel and his family soon after his accident to encourage them, offer them a meal and to pray with them. We were honored to accompany her. We were deeply saddened by his condition at the time and astounded at the love and care that his sisters were pouring into Manuel. As we talked with them and prayed over Manuel, I had a deep sense that God was already at work. I simply felt that although the family was not well acquainted with God, they had wrestled Him, cried out to Him and become utterly, helplessly dependant upon Him. God used us that day as we sat with them on their broken sofa, to feed them, encourage them and to let the family know that He sees them. We were able to indirectly serve Manuel several more times in the following months with meals here and there.
Now, 5 months later, in WALKS Manuel. As we wrapped up our Bible Study and turned our full attention to Manuel, he smiled and began to talk. He is talking! He told us how he still has no idea what happened in the accident and that he is still recuperating but what he is sure about is that God has given him a second life. He talked about how his first life was misspent, misused and thrown away. Manuel explained that God has saved him, brought him back from a mere heartbeat to give him a second chance. Last night he sat before us saying, “I want to know what purpose God has for me, for giving me a new life. I want to know Him, but I do not have a Bible.” As God would have it, Isabel our 12-year-old, had taken an extra Spanish Bible with us to teach the kids from and she was more than happy to give that bible to Manuel. He smiled and asked if he can come back next week!
It may sound trite, it may sound super “religious” to say what I am about to say, but it is truly my heart today. I am humbled. I am honored. I am so incredibly blessed to get to be apart of what God is doing here in Pallatanga, Ecuador. I am not on the sidelines simply watching from afar as God shows up and changes lives. I have been witness to and, even more, an active participant in God taking the living dead and showering down new life upon them. I get to cry with His people as they walked a hard, hard road. And I get to rejoice with them as they feel His love cover over them and they begin to realize that God knows the plans that He has for them; plans to prosper and not to harm, plans for a hope and a future.
Some days are hard, frustrating and there is no sign of fruit. Yesterday was good, real good and today I relish in the mere fact that we are here and a part of something so very much bigger than us!