A letter from Mark Adams on the U.S.-Mexico border
September 29, 2009
“Can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3)
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
The toll of drugs in the lives of people on both sides of the border is devastating. As our Wednesday morning prayer and Scripture group read the passage from Ezekiel 37 where God takes the prophet to see the “valley of dry bones” and asks the prophet “Can these bones live?” Luis, one of the young adults of the Lirio de los Valles Presbyterian Church, spoke of how there were people in his family who were in the grips of addiction and were like dry bones. He had lost hope for them. Luis was not alone.
Several years ago, Frontera de Cristo walked into a relationship with a drug rehabilitation center called CRREDA. One day early on in the relationship, we arrived at the center and the leadership called for “Señor Hoyo” (Mr. Hole). They mistakenly thought we were doctors and knew that Mr. Hole desperately needed medical care.
Señor Hoyo’s real name was Juan, a 22-year-old addicted to heroin. He had been using drugs since he was 14; his bones showed through his skin, and his eyes were sunken into his skull. As he ambled toward us, he looked like the walking dead.
Juan had gotten into a fight and was stabbed multiple times in the abdomen. He was given a colostomy. He had been several days without colostomy bags before arriving at CRREDA. We told Raul, the director, that he needed to be taken to the hospital. Raul said they had already done that but all they did was to give him pain medicine.
We accompanied Raul and Juan to the hospital with our health team. While our health team and Mexican coordinator advocated on behalf of Juan to be treated humanely, I sat by Juan in the waiting room — really uncomfortable and not knowing how to communicate with him.
Finally, I just asked him what he wanted. He responded: “I want to live again. I have not lived for eight years and I want to live again. I know that with God’s help and with the help of CRREDA, I will be able to live again.”
With the help of Frontera’s health ministry, Juan was able to get a reverse colostomy. With the help of CRREDA, Juan began a lasting recovery, and within two months his body had filled out and smiles easily broke out on his face — he was living again.
The relationship between Frontera de Cristo and CRREDA has grown over the years. We have seen many people whose lives seemed hopeless who have found hope and reintegrated back into society. We have also seen many folks who have fallen back into addiction after having begun recovery.
The Lirio de los Valles Church is beginning an intentional program in another rehabilitation center, AMARE. We hope to give spiritual, emotional, and material support to persons reintegrating into society. In addition to regular prayer and worship services, they are beginning weekly reentry Bible studies that give folks a solid understanding of God’s forgiveness, love, and grace, and help prepare them with life skills such as job training and communication skills with family.
Miriam has developed a love for and knowledge of community gardening over the last three years, helping single-mothers and other families start their own gardens. She has been sought out by the CRREDA women’s rehabilitation center to help them begin growing their own food. In addition to helping create physical nourishment, Laura, the leaders of the women’s rehab center, has requested that Miriam provide spiritual nourishment to the center as well. The women of the Lirio de los Valles church will be working with Miriam to provide Bible study and prayer for the center.
Ezekiel was prophesying to a people who were in exile in Babylon; they were far from home and had lost hope. Yet in this ancient text we are reminded that our God is a God who brings forth hope from the midst of despair, life from the midst of death. We were also reminded that God does not work alone, but calls people, even people like us, to be instruments of his hope and life.
We are particularly grateful to God to see this growing ministry of the Lirio de los Valles church to be agents of God’s grace with folks who are struggling to “live again.” Please join us in prayer for Elder Omar Morales, who is leading this new ministry; Sister Lorena Ocampo, who is helping develop the curriculum for the weekly Bible study; the praise band (Mariano Huchin, Melissa Navarrete, Omar and Lupita Morales Diaz); Pastor Rodolfo, who is providing pastoral support, and all the members who participate in this life-giving ministry.
We give thanks to God for you and for your support that allows us to witness to God’s hope and life-giving power on the U.S./Mexico border.
Miriam, Mark, Cindy, Anna Flor, and Nathan
The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 275