Church on the Road
My daughter and I are visiting family in Bolivia this January. They live in a small town to the south of Potosí, Bolivia.
To be out of the big city of Buenos Aires and to be in a small town has its attraction, maybe its the silence or maybe the great expanses of land yet to be explored. I personally enjoy climbing the mountains, walking, meditating and appreciating the creation, but more than anything, taking time to marvel before the Creator.
It's a new year, a new beginning and maybe I'm not the type of person who sets rigid new years resolutions to accomplish, but I try to take January to be in silence. It may be because December is full of communion with friends, family and the church, there is a lot of time shared with community. So January becomes a time to "stop" and more than anything to search out intimacy with our Beloved, with the Father, it is a time to listen, and this is how it has been for me.
At the beginning of my stay here, I went out to run and walk around through the mountains. On my walk, these lyrics played on my playlist: "He tells me that He loves me", by Jesús Adrian Romero. There's been countless times I've heard this song, but in this silence and in the surrounding vast terrain, each word resounded more clearly than ever.
He tells me that He loves me when I hear the rain
He tells me that he loves me with a sunset
He tells me without words in the ocean's waves
He tells me in the morning when I take a breath
He tells me that He loves me and He wants to be with me
He tells me that He looks for me when I'm out walking
That He has made all that exists to call my attention to Him
That He wants to win me over and bring joy to my heart
He tells me that He loves me. He has loved us from the very beginning. From our very first breath to every place our feet take us. As I have slowed down to listen to Him, many interesting things have happened.
One Sunday, I was in the little town where I grew up and my daughter, Brittany, and I, were longing to find a place of communion to hear the Word and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet in the small "pueblo" town there was only a Catholic church. And so I went, along with my little niece and daughter. The message we heard was centered on Christ, it was a call to have Christ at the center of our lives and the difference that would make. It was very edifying, and on top of that, full of emotion. I had my niece sleeping in my arms, but after the service, even the elderly people came to me to shake my hand and even give me a hug. Leaving aside all of the liturgy, we understood that the priest was teaching something for our hearts. I also realized that in the 20 years before coming to Christ, God had always been searching me out. I was raised there, at this Catholic church, and I remember that as a young girl I would ring the bells and even though I didn't sing well, I participated in the choir. God was always revealing his love. How exciting it is to return to the past and discover that God was always a part of the present, He was always pursuing me like He is now.
The second Sunday in Bolivia, we traveled to a nearby city, and there wasn't a church there either, so our time in the Word and in meditation was spent between the two of us, yet with these differences: we didn't see our brothers and sisters, nor did we hear a preacher give a sermon, but we looked at Psalm 23 and Isaiah 53, which were both written on the walls of the prison.
Yes, that afternoon we were there visiting our family member, being a part of his reality that we had never experienced. It was a very precarious place, where bunk beds were shared and people slept on the floor. The rooms didn't have doors, the walls were crumbling and when it rained, everything got flooded. I saw in there a young man that I knew when we were children. At first, he didn't want to be seen, but later he came out and gave me a long hug, calling me "sister" because my mom had always been looking out for him.
I was filled with emotions to see an elderly person there reading a Bible, to see the two people I knew and watch them smile, and to embrace them and be hugged in return. Really, God spoke to our hearts and taught us that Sunday. We returned the next day and a young boy who knew we would be returning handmade us each a bracelet as a "thank you" for what our visit meant to him.
As you can see, two Sundays, completely out of the norm, yet two Sundays that God spoke with such power, not using words, but taking us to places where we could listen.
As I travel here and there, I think much about the community found in the church, in the world that needs a Savior, about those that need the liberty that Christ gives. Whether here or Buenos Aires, there is a need for more churches of Christ, and I don't refer to the physical place of meeting specifically, but I refer to the people of Christ, people that will shine like Jesus, talk of His love, show His compassion, go outside of comfort zones to give of themselves, as Jesus did.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness, When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:35-38
My prayer is that we can be these workers.
God bless you all.