A letter from Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar on the U.S.–Mexico border
The session of the Lirio de los Valles Presbyterian Church, at 26 years old, the oldest Presbyterian Church in the state of Sonora, requested that our family be present for worship the last two Sundays of July, the last two before we would leave for a 10-month interpretation assignment based out of Clover, South Carolina. We were already beginning to grieve that we were going to be gone from our home church and community of faith, so we did not hesitate to set aside those dates.
July 24, 2011
On July 24 the session asked Mark to preach at the morning service in their new sanctuary. The gospel lesson in the lectionary for that Sunday was the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast. As we reflected on these passages, we broke out in praise for the multiple ways that we have been privileged to see the kingdom of God burst forth in the midst of this community of faith.
Sometimes the Lirio de los Valles Church wonders why it has not grown into a church of hundreds of people and—to be honest—they sometimes feel like they are “not as good” or “not as faithful” as the “big church” in town. It was an honor for Mark to be able to look out over the 80-or-so faithful who had gathered for worship and give witness to the power of the gospel working in and through them:
- Seeing Mara and Roberto, we are reminded of their grandmother, Sister Amelia del Pozo, who died last year. She opened up her home to begin the first-ever Presbyterian worship in her home 26 years ago and became a founding member of Frontera de Cristo. Today over 80 people find spiritual shelter in the Lirio de los Valles Church and this “small,” “insignificant,” “poor” church is starting two new churches in Agua Prieta and supporting the development of a church in Caborca, three hours away, in an effort to provide a home for many other thirsty souls.
- Sister Carmina and Brother Pedro and others who, motivated by faith, open up their homes to provide food for the hungry, water for the thirsty, and welcome for the stranger and literally hundreds of people finding shelter in the branches.
- Brother Daniel and Sister Elvia, who were forced to migrate from their communities in Chiapas and Nayarit respectively because of economic situations are now making it possible for families in their communities to be or stay reunited through their vision and hard work with Café Justo.
One of the true gifts that we have had as mission co-workers has been to witness how God takes what seems insignificant and small—in the world's eyes—and multiplies and transforms it into a blessing for many. We are blessed by the ways in which our sisters and brothers focus, not on what they do not have, but on what they do have—and offer it to be a blessing to God and to others.
July 31, 2011
The Lirio de los Valles Church gathered in worship, and less than four hours before we were to begin our journey on interpretation assignment, commissioned us. Pastor Rodolfo told us that God had brought both Miriam and me over 13 years ago to Agua Prieta from thousands of miles away to be a blessing to the church and the community on the border.
“Ahora Uds. son de nosotros . . .” “Now you are part of us and we send you to the United States to be a blessing to the churches and the communities where you will be this year, and we will be supporting you with our prayers. No vamos a soltar la cuerda de oracion. We will not drop the rope of prayer—we are connected.”
The session and deacons surrounded us and laid hands on our entire family as the rest of the congregation stretched their hands out in prayer. “Go and take our blessing with you.”
We received news of the decision of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico to terminate its relationship with the PC(USA). To say the least, we were deeply saddened by the rupture between the two churches that have nourished us both and that we love deeply. We were also uncertain about what this decision would mean for the life and ministry of Frontera de Cristo and for our participation on the border.
Several days later we received a simple e-mail from Pastor Rodolfo on behalf of the session and congregation—“No hemos soltado la cuerda—we have not let go of the rope.” The reality and knowledge that we continued to be supported in prayer by our sisters and brothers on the border gave us strength and courage to face the uncertainty posed by the broken relationship of our national denominations.
Soon thereafter the bi-national board of Frontera de Cristo confirmed its call by God to continue ministry “with all who seek to witness to life in the face of death, unity in the face of division, hope in the face of despair, and love in the face of hate. We invite you to continue with us in partnership as we journey into the future that God has in store for us.”
Miriam and I have a strong sense of call to return to partner with the rich, challenging, transformative ministry of Frontera de Cristo when our interpretation assignment ends in June. World Mission has expressed the desire to continue in ministry with Frontera, so we have high hopes that we will once again be able to join our sisters and brothers on the U.S./Mexico border in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed once our “commission to be a blessing to the churches and communities in the United States” ends.
We thank you for your continued support of our ministry and ask you to join us in prayers for our two national churches that there will be healing and that despite the rupture they will be instruments of God’s blessings!
God’s peace that passes all understanding be with you,
The Adams Maldonado Family
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 283
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 4