An exercise in faith. The kind of faith that can move mountains.
About twenty-five years ago an atheist was sitting on an outcropping of rocks in Southern California. This man was sure that there was no God and was quite at peace with that. In fact, he would tell you that the only “god” in his life was himself. But looking out onto the rolling hills just as the sun was setting in the magic hour of sunlight, he felt the Holy Spirit descend upon him and his life was forever changed. In that moment he knew that God existed. It would take him a few more weeks to give himself over to God in Christ Jesus entirely, but once he did, the Lord set him upon a path that would cause him to give up everything. This man, this former atheist turned follower of Christ would give up his successful business, his home, and his retirement savings to serve the orphaned, abused, and abandoned children of Baja, Mexico, for the sake of Jesus.
Now is a good time to mention that this man was married. He was married to a quiet believer who for years had followed her beloved atheist wherever he went. She had already given up a great deal for the sake of her marriage, but now that he was a believer, her life would forever change in a direction she would never have imagined. She was a homebody who took great pleasure in tending their home and cultivating her garden. She had wanted children, but her husband did not want the interruption children would bring into his active lifestyle, so she put her energy elsewhere. When he went through his conversion and began to answer God’s call to Mexico, she had to adjust once again. Over the years she moved from her beautifully tended home to a townhouse and finally to Mexico, never having a permanent home of her own again. Her energy shifted to the ministry, working behind the scenes on the business side of running this sort of endeavor while her husband became the face and the energy behind growing their reach to love the most fragile children in Baja.
Over the next twenty-five years they would toil on land that did not belong to their ministry, often having to give up and start over somewhere else, but never giving up hope that God would provide land of their own so that their ministry would be assured of longevity and would endure. A beautiful young Mexican woman joined them early on. A woman of God, without whom the ministry would never have the reach that it would achieve. Now there were three. Very biblical don’t you think? They became a family of sorts and they now had hundreds of children to love and nurture. Over the years many wonderful believers would serve this ministry, but these three faithful believers remained the foundation that carried it through. Yes, it took the kind of faith that moved mountains and God, who plays a long game, answered their prayers, and granted them a permanent place to rest their ministry.
Therefore, we were not in church service this past Sunday. Steve and I were in Mexico to attend the dedication of Rancho Genesis, the permanent Rancho Genesis to the Lord, our Almighty God who provides everything. It is difficult to find the words to express the influence these gentle, humble people have had on our lives as we witnessed their evolution.
Greg and Patti Amstutz and Gabby Velasquez, living examples of the kind of faith that moves mountains. These faithful saints are at the forefront of my mind when I read these verses, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
May their faith inspire us all to strive for faith that moves mountains. Amen?!