This is unfamiliar territory. It’s somewhat hard to get my bearings. Things are different here in Mexico. It’s important to recognize that.
In town, things are actually very similar to home, but out in the neighborhoods, outside the city, is a whole other world. No one is walking along, staring at their cell phone like a zombie, oblivious to the world around them. There are no homeowners associations leaving notes on the door about keeping your lawn mowed. There are no Tesla electric cars, or Porsche SUVs cruising through. No street signs. No pavement. No running water.
I was on a mission with Operation Restore Hope. We were down in Rosarito, Mexico building a home for a family in need. ORH is a program operating under Q Missions, with the goal of bringing veterans to the mission field, in hopes of finding healing of their wounds of war. “Healing through service.” This time we were building a house for Marcos and his family. They were living in a humble wood structure with a dirt floor. When it rained, the water would run right through the house, and their roof leaked badly.
As our team was there building the house, I noticed another small wood structure in the next area over. It had a make-shift barbed wire fence around it.
I thought, “What is it there for?”
Was it some kind of animal pen? For a goat, maybe? I didn’t see any animals around there, except some skinny dogs. Was it even part of the property we were building on? I didn’t see anyone else living around it. I asked around if anyone knew what it was there for. Someone thought it might be an outhouse. That kind of made sense, because there wasn’t a bathroom around there either. By the second day I found out what it was. It was a playhouse for the children. As I walked around to the other side, there was an opening in the fence, and I could see some dirty toys inside the small playhouse. In a neighborhood without green grass, or city parks, this playhouse stood as a refuge from the hardship of life. A small, dirty place of joy where only fun exists, and the cares of the world disappear.
This kind of thing gives me perspective.
By building this family a home, we weren’t just keeping the rain off of their shoulders. We were giving them refuge. We were giving them a ray of hope in a world that is so cold. I’m not trying to overstate what we accomplished. We were just a small part of the process, partnering with a large organization, YWAM, and Hopes of Hope. They have been building homes in Mexico for 25 years. They also invest in their spiritual situation, teaching people about Jesus, meeting their physical and spiritual needs, and providing important follow up with the families, to make sure that they stay on a positive track.
I reflect on when I was at Marine Corps Boot Camp. The pace was relentless. The Drill Instructors were unyielding. There was one ray of hope to look forward to during the week. Church on Sundays. The air was cool inside, and the room was quiet. It was the one place I could just breathe… and sometimes cry. I remember how it felt to march back to the barracks after church, the warm air, the cadence of the D.I. I was ready to face another week.
I think about returning from the emergency call. The tones ring out in the fire station. Someone needs our help. We go racing out the door to respond to who knows what. Sometimes life, sometimes death. Either way, I know it will end soon. We work quickly. Then when the fire engine returns to the station, I will stay in the officer’s seat for a few moments more. I take a breath, and collect my thoughts. Soon we will have to run again.
I always sit in the front row, center, when I am at church service. I wonder if the faithful at Faith and Victory Church ever wonder why. Do they think I feel entitled? Do they even care where I sit? No one ever sits in my seat. With all the work to be done on a Sunday morning, it’s nice to not see the distractions. With all the broken lives and ruined weeks that my brothers and sisters have dealt with, it’s nice to find a moment for peace amongst all the chaos. For that hour and a half, I can clear my head, and focus on my good good Father. I have a place of rest in the front row. It’s just me and Jesus… and usually my loving wife. I need that time.
Psalms 10:17, “Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.”
Hope is a powerful thing. I think that we all need it. It doesn’t matter where you live, how much money you have, or what hardship has found you in your life. I know I need it. I find it in my place of refuge. I also find hope on the mission field. I find joy in helping my fellow man find refuge in the Lord too.
There is something familiar about finding rest in Jesus. Even in Mexico. Even where the roads have no name. Playhouse, or God’s house, where do you find rest? Where does your hope come from?