Slowly our vans make their way down a steep grade, along the dusty road to one of Tijuana’s many “colonias”. The sights and smells are quite “different”. It is hard to believe that we are just a few miles south of the US border. What people call their home here is made up of a few pieces of scrap lumber, tin and whatever material they can find to make a shelter. Raw sewage runs down an open concrete channel filled with all sorts of litter. Our vans stop at a fenced in basketball court. We unload our gear and soon are surrounded by a bunch of kids. They want to see what these “brown Americans” have come for. A saintly elderly Mexican lady welcomes us personally, expressing how happy she is to see us. Some of us get out balls, Frisbee’s, balloons and other items to play with the local kids. They enjoy the attention and they like to beat us at a friendly game of soccer. Other members of our team make their way to some of the homes to invite young and old to our open-air service at the course
As we try to begin our service a few minutes later we discover that not all of our tapes with the background music for the skits have been packed-so we have to improvise. It amazed us how calm everybody stayed. After all, they worked hard on learning their skits and songs and now they can’t use them-at least not at this time. We are thankful for this experience, because it reflects what can happen when we desire to serve the Lord. Despite of our best efforts we often encounter circumstances beyond our control. We have the choice to belly ache about it or to continue to trust the Lord that He’ll come through nevertheless. Two of our team get to share a testimony. After a while someone shares a message about how our heavenly Father has created everyone in His image and that He, just like the father in the story of the lost son is looking out for us everyday to come back into his family. When the call is given, a young woman with child comes forward to accept God’s gift of salvation. Some of our young people get to pray and rejoice with this new member of God’s family. In the background, Angele, prayed for a mother and her little child with a cleft palate and tumor on his mouth. An older gentlemen comes forward to receive prayer for a health problem with the gentle prodding of a friend.
All of us leave this place with a renewed sense of God’s love for all people and his compassionate heart to reach out to them through us. It is our prayer that everyone on our team comes away with the insight that the Lord can and will use them if they make themselves available to Him.
Training in Los Angeles
After a day and night of driving we arrived in Los Angeles in time to take a trip to the ocean and the Santa Monica pier. We were grateful to find a rental company to make their van available to drive into Mexico. A big “Thank You” to all those who through their generous gifts made it possible to rent a van. At the YWAM base in L.A. we were welcomed by enthusiastic staff workers. In the following four days our schedule would be tight beginning with breakfast at 7 a.m., ending at 11 p.m. In between the time was filled with personal quiet times with the Lord, corporate worship, engaging testimonies and challenging teachings based on the theme of ONE (Truth, Life, Love, Desire, Purpose, Way). In the afternoons everybody practiced their drama’s, clown skits, worship dances and made preparations for a vacation Bible school program. There was of course enough time for some fun games and the occasional challenge of shooting hoops. After four days of intense training we were ready to make our way to Tijuana, a 3 hour drive south.
One of the last services we had in Los Angeles was also one of the most powerful. The speaker brought home the fact that Jesus, the Truth, the Way, the Life should be our Love, purpose and desire. If there was sin or anything that would distract us from following him, we needed to leave it behind. Everyone was encouraged to write down those things on a little card. All those cards were collected in a burlap bag. To visualize the sacrifice that Jesus made for the forgiveness of our sins, the staff had prepared a passion play, which took place in the outside court yard. It showed how Jesus was wrongly accused, flogged and nailed to the cross. After he had been taken down from the cross by his disciples, all that remained was the bag in which we had placed the cards with our sins written on them. All of us were powerfully impacted by the truth and reality that only by the sacrifice that Jesus brought were we able to go free.
Later as we again gathered inside we celebrated communion together, listened to songs of dedication and commitment to Jesus. Those who wanted to totally commit their lives to the Lord were encouraged to go forward and bring a signed commitment card to the front. All those who did received a simple necklace with a small cross, as a reminder of their solemn step of faith. It was quite a sight to see the Spirit of God move on the hearts of about 160 young people, who were assembled together. We were especially grateful, as any parent would, to observe, that all members of our team made a commitment to the Lord that night! Praise the LORD!