Friday, September 04, 2009

Preach the Gospel, use words when necessary.

Today was one of those days. Today, Andrew and I and the pastor and his wife, a couple of the deacons and two other men from our church attended a funeral. Today, we preached the gospel, using words when needed.

Santa Fe, is the original Santa Fe for which all other cities called thusly are named for. It is a small village about 4 miles outside of Granada. It was the original encampment of the Catholic Kings, Isabel and Fernindad, when they took Granada from the Moslems.
There is no evangelical church there. Many have tried and all except for the gypsies (who are considered an ethnic group outside of Spanish culture) have failed.

But God still wants Santa Fe. So, once upon a time, oh, let’s say a couple of decades ago, a Christian who lived in Santa Fe began to witness. He witnessed as much as he could, to one man in particular, Antonio. Antonio resisted for years. The Christian died, and Antonio kept living.

Until, one day this summer, Antonio was told he was dying of cancer. AS soon as he heard, he told his daughters, “Bring me an evangelical pastor.” They went scrambling and found the widow of the Christian. The widows name is Rosa. Panicked, she called the church.

Since our pastor was on vacation, two of the deacons, Mariene and Paco went to visit Antonio in the hospital. They witnessed to him, and that day, July 10th, he came to the Lord. 10 days later, at his request, he was baptized in his home in front of his family. Miguel, our pastor, performed it.
For two months, the Miguel and Paco continued to visit Antonio. He grew in his faith, speaking at length with Paco about suffering and pain. Yesterday, Antonio went to be with the Lord.

Before Antonio died, he made his wishes known to his two daughters, both in their late 20s, that they wouldn’t have a mass nor ring bells for his death. That he wanted the pastor to do his funeral. An evangelical funeral in a town that has resisted the Good news.

So a handful of us from the church went. We went to the funeral home, and greeting everyone. The daughters were beside themselves with grief. The body of Antonio was yellow, worn out and death was visible. They don’t cremate here, just keep the body in the fridge, and to view it, you see it in through glass as they just keep the air cool.

Before they loaded the body into the hearse, Miguel stopped the process and said we would pray. As I stood there and listened, it was incredible. It was a clear, powerful prayer, declaring that Antonio was in God’s presence because of His faith and praising God for it. I could barely breath. You could almost feel the earth tremble. The crowd was so hushed; you could hear a pin drop.

We drove the short way to the cemetery. They entomb the bodies here, as land is very expensive. So as the body was lifted to its slot, the Pastor prayed, Paco read scripture and then shared a few words.

As Paco read the scripture, you could feel everyone listening intently. You see, no one had ever been at a funeral like this before. There was no hysterics, no passion, no rosary, no Hail Mary’s. Instead there were these words…

50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."[g]
55"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"[h] 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV emphasis mine)

Finally, as they painstakingly closed up the tomb with brick and concrete and then finally flowers, Timoteo from our church sang a song. A song in Spanish, this song talks about the first time we will have in God’s presence and the joy to see Jesus face to face. People cried as they listened to the words.

We said our condolences and left. Throughout the entire time, you could feel what Miguel called, Spiritual tension. Unseen to use, spiritual battles were being fought and today, we saw a powerful victory. Andrew and I went to stand next to the pastors and deacons during this battle, and we felt it keenly.

Pray for Santa Fe, and the believers that life in it. Pray that through death, God will give live to a dry desert that needs the Living Water. Praise Him that today’s funeral celebrated eternal life and not death. Pray for those of us, that preached the Gospel today with our presence, and when it was necessary, we used words. Pray protection over us. Often, when we and the people we work with, enter these types of situations, the enemy tries to rob the joy of the victory. Pray that His victory will prevail and we will someday see more fruit in a little town called Santa Fe.

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