There are several monumental events in history that are celebrated by people of diverse backgrounds. Yet, there are a chosen people, those called out by God Himself, that make an annual celebration ... Resurrection Sunday (Easter to the rest of world)! On this day we remember the demonstration that Christ presented in conquering death and being a living testimony of that which He spoke of. He is the Son of God! Hallelujah! ! !
For the past couple of years, I have stayed up early into the next day, but also woken up later into the next day. For instance, I may have gone to sleep at 2 am but then woken up at 11 am or 12 pm of that day. For me, this Sunday was a miracle; I went to sleep close to 2:30 am and both woke up and got up around 6 am so that I could attend a Sunrise Service at 7 am in honor of the risen Lord, Christ Jesus. In the process, I concluded my day by attending a total of three services today!
Sunrise Service. There were different people at this church, of whom I have not seen in a while. It was also nice to see the men's ministry folks arriving early to set up chairs and a pulpit for the morning service. Although it was a bit chilly, people were up and arriving to the service. The service consisted of a greeting, three special songs presented by some young people (young adults -- 1 female vocalist, 2 males (both guitar players and vocalists)). It was then followed by a message. After the message we prayed and were dismissed ... but also invited for a "taquito" breakfast. For the most part, I tend to avoid such "festivities" but for some reason or the other I decided to stay. I had three tacos and some orange juice. I sat with people I did not know and older man joined me. Although I had spoken to him before in Sunday School class, I had not reached out to learn his story. We talked a bit, and I had the opportunity to get to know him better. He has had a full-life, not without challenges, but one where it has taught him to trust in God. It was a neat experience conversing with him. Then, right as He was leaving, a sister in the Lord approached me.
She greeted me, and asked me if I had a few moments for her to share a testimony. I encouraged her to please take a seat and share what was on her heart. In summary, she shared that she comes from a large family and that not everyone is saved. In particular there are two brothers who have heard of the Lord but had not surrendered their lives to Christ. Well, upon the progressive illness of their mother, both brothers would assist their mom with home care. However, their mother's desire was to see them get saved; but especially the one who did not make an effort to hear about God. Although she was not in full consciousness toward her last days, she did have the opportunity to hear of his conversion from total rejection of the things of God to a full proclamation of accepting Christ Jesus as his Lord and Savior!
With the second brother, he has known God, and been saved before. However, he renounced Christ, and has chosen to not step into a church. Ironically, when pastors, church leaders, and groups meet at his mother's house, he is present, and does not flee. He is respectful of both the Christian leaders and group members, and even sits down to listen to them. So on this Sunday, I told this sister in Christ to rejoice over the salvation of her first brother because her mother, more than likely knows that this son is saved. Additionally, I told her to rejoice because this second brother is still being receptive towards the things of God and that there is still hope for his salvation; but continue to press on in prayer. She asked me to keep them in prayer, and I told her I would. I further stated that we should pray together for the two of them.
As I prayed, the people at the neighboring tables over heard us praying and began to pray too! ! ! It is amazing what great and mighty things can happen when I listen to the Holy Spirit and obey His leading! Thank you God for using me with this part of the Body of Christ!
Church at the Park. Last year, close to Christmas Day, I assisted a ministry that reaches out to people at a "plaza" in the downtown area. Some of the people are elderly folks, people with physical or mental disabilities, people who have abused drugs or alcohol, but also people who happened to be visiting the downtown area. This year, God put this church on my list of places to visit on this day.
When I reached the downtown area, I drove around the "plaza" to make sure they had not had an earlier church service. Once I got confirmation that they were there, I found a place to park and grabbed a bag of Bibles to donate to this ministry (three English and three Spanish). I approached the man in charge (pastor of "Church at the Park") and asked him if he would like some help. At a quick glance, he said no thanks, I have it covered. Then he took a second but longer look (I was wearing a light black jacket, black slacks, white dress shirt, and a stripped tie!). He said I looked familiar, so I told him about my visit around Christmas time and how God had led me to help him out a bit on this day. He smiled and directed me to help him prepare some coffee. He also informed me, that because of the Holiday, some people had traveled out of town or had other commitments and could not help out today. Hence, when I arrived he was both surprised by joyful that he had someone to help him this morning. Then I met an older lady who has been volunteering with this ministry since the start (about 5 years). She is a hard working lady who believes that the church that is alive is a church with members who are active in ministry, both within and outside the church congregation. Together, we got more coffee for the meeting attendees, and helped out in other ways as needed.
As the time approached for the service to start, the pastor approached me and informed me that his co-worker (also the Spanish translator) was running late. He asked me if I could be his translator until his co-worker arrived. Please note, that it has been years since I have been before a large group of people as a translator. Well things went well, and the pastor expressed his gratitude for my work with him. After a time of pop-quiz questions and games, the pastor's co-worker arrived. He stayed back from the crowd until the preaching time arrived. When the time was set, he took over the translation work, and I sat down amongst the attendees. Although the message was good, in my opinion, the pastor pushed the sermon too long ... close to two hours! When the sermon was finished, I gathered some of my things and said good-bye to the lady and the pastor's co-worker (the pastor was busy at this time). Briefly after, a food ministry began to set-up the food to feed the attendees of today's meeting.
It was a neat experience, to be a part of today's service. More than anything, it was exciting for me to witness how God coordinated some people to be out of town and absent, and yet call on me to go out to this service and help out as a servant and a translator! Praise God that I can still hear His Spirit lead me to where He wants me to be!
Iglesia Palabra Viva. After having shared a lunch with my mom at home, I got ready to head out to this church. I had been previously informed that there would be a play with this church congregation (this is my central-base church at this moment in time). Originally, I had stated that I might go, but was not sure. As the days grew closer, I began to write it off my list. Please note that over the course of several years, I have witnessed the over dramatized attempts of presenting the life of Christ leading to his crucifixion and resurrection. I have witnessed it to the point that I increase in anger and bitterness towards such attempts to present Christ. In my opinion, a concise and humble sermon is all that is needed and the Holy Spirit does the rest of the work. It is not necessary to attempt to shock the world into accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior through such dramatized presentations.
Nonetheless, I still attended the service. I greeted a few people upon my arrival. The service consisted of some time of praise and worship, greetings, and brief announcements. There were also some soloists who sung a special song with regards to the resurrection of Christ Jesus. The play itself was new in presentation style. It presented diverse scenes of the life of Christ with brief dialog and songs playing throughout the course of the scenes. Although I was not really moved by this play, others were and I was happy for them. After the performance, there was only a brief reading of a scripture passage and then the service was over.
As I was getting ready to leave, I said good-bye to some people. I also spoke with an elderly lady briefly and encouraged her to use God's Word to overcome oppression and depression. She knows God's Word; it is instilled within her heart. She said she would begin to do that this week and asked me to continue to keep her in my prayers. Then I moved a few more steps forward towards the door, and I was stopped briefly by a brother in Christ; whom appeared to be waiting for me before leaving at the conclusion of the service. He asked me about Bridge Ministries of Laredo; where are we located, the size of the store and if we had Bible dictionaries. I answered all of his questions and encouraged him to stop by the book ministry or call Brother Steve over possibly ordering the dictionary he had in mine (he did not have the title with him at this time). He thanked me and left with a smile.
I finally made my way out of the church premises. As I began to drive home, I felt a little down because I had not necessarily witnessed my blessing from the play or the songs (which were the main feature of today's service). However, God changed my perspective to them; the church congregation. I began to see how I blessed others simply by being there to share this day. I had blessed others by greeting them. I had also blessed others by being of some service to them. My attendance today was no so much so that I could be served but so that I could share this day with my fellow brethren but also to be of service to them.
Closure. In closing, today was a day of the power of the resurrection. God both led and equipped to times and places where I was to be of service and fellowship with others. At my first place, I shared in fellowship and prayed with someone. At my second place, I served as needed and even did some translation work for the pastor. At the third place, I shared my day with some people, blessed them with my attendance, and brief work of service. The most amazing thing is this, that God chose me and orchestrated this day without a complete revelation of what He desired for me to do at any of these places! Thank you for continuing to see me as worthy of being your servant for such a work. It is my prayer that you too will submit under the leading of the Holy Spirit and witness with joy God at work through and around you.
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R. A. Gómez