March 6, 2012
Daily Devotions written by Shelley Brandon, Grief and Encouragement Coach
Isaiah 61: 4 – 6
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
The village that we worked in building houses is situated on land that was once a thriving but now abandoned plantation. Few of the original concrete buildings remain. Anyone who had been fortunate enough to claim one was blessed indeed. Most of the dwellings were mere shanties thrown together with rusted scrap metal. No light, no window, a blanket for a door, dirt the only floor. The floors were swept every morning by women who carefully tended their meager homes, grateful for some type of shelter from the elements.
The homes that we built for them were smaller than my bedroom. One 8’x10’ room with one window, a plastic skylight in the center of the metal roof, a real metal door, cement floor, dry-walled inside and cement board with stucco on the outside made a home. A metal awning in front for a covered porch nearly doubled the living space. Most of their days are spent outdoors and this awning provided both shelter and shade. This modest building was more than most of these families has ever known. The simple gifts we brought along for the families were for them more extravagant and overwhelming than any Christmas I’ve ever experienced. Tears of gratitude and joy filled their eyes as their new homes were dedicated to them. Tears of overwhelming humility filled ours.
As each home was dedicated, the team that built the dwelling went inside with the family, the mission directors and a Guatemalan Pastor named Hermanos Jesus (does it get any cooler than that??? Sir Jesus!) The other teams surrounded the house in a human chain of prayer. As Hermanos Jesus presented each family with the Gospel of Jesus we all prayed for the Holy Spirit to break through the bond of Mayan religion that had been co-mingled with Catholicism into a warped and twisted belief system that had glass-topped coffins in the churches with a wax Jesus inside. In two of the houses that bond was broken!! In another it was cracked as the mother committed her life to Jesus in spite of the controlling fear that had been instilled into her children by her absent husband. The fourth family was not yet ready to make the commitment, but did not outright reject our Savior asking that the evangelism team come back to talk with them more. This evangelism team held discipleship meetings in the village every week. They would not be forgotten.
We weren’t prepared for the spiritual battle that we’d been warned about. Everything from the noise of the village children, dogs fighting with each other near us that had been napping together earlier, loud music from somewhere that had not been heard all week, a Pepsi truck driving back and forth on the narrow dirt road trying to sell his sodas to the villagers and some guy with a P.A. system on his truck verbally running his own commercial for whatever it was that he was trying to sell. Anything that could distract us from our prayer vigil was used against us, even the weather. The only rain we encountered all week fell in those few hours. Our mission for the eternal destination of the wonderful people was under attack. When the distractions became too much, we sang. Any song we could remember the words to we sang, from Jesus Loves Me to Revelation Song. I have never been so spiritually exhausted as I was when we were finished but I have never been so content in the moment either.