A letter from Mark Adams on interpretation assignment from Mexico
“Unusual bi-national ministry” and “a manifestation of the Spirit”
Kyrsten and Anna, two students of Eastern Mennonite University, described the ministry of Frontera de Cristo as an “unusual bi-national ministry” when introducing Miriam and me to the chapel congregation at EMU, where we preached. Just a few days later George Meek, an elder of Trinity Presbyterian Church of Arlington, Virginia, while introducing us to his Sunday School class described Frontera de Cristo as “a manifestation of the Spirit.”
Kyrsten, Anna and George all shared a week of life and ministry with Frontera de Cristo earlier this year as part of immersion experiences facilitated by our mission education ministry. While they each shared more amply their reflections on the ministry and how the ministry had impacted their lives, “unusual” and “manifestation of the Spirit” are the two phrases that have stuck in our minds.
As we journey through this Advent season, we get showered by some very “unusual” and powerful images from the Prophet Isaiah—the prophet who spoke (and continues to speak) of a great light to a people walking in darkness. These images are of a Divine reality that when at our best we still summon up the courage to long for. This Divine reality captured in these images is waiting to burst forth into our broken and painful human reality—but is a reality in which we must actively hope for, await and live into as “manifestations of the Spirit” that transform despair into hope, hate into love, war into peace, and death into life.
“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).
In a world where our tendency is to draw more borders between “us and them” a ministry that understands borders more as places of encounter than places of division is unusual.
In a world where the income gap between the “haves, the have lesses and the have nots” is reflected not only in economic separation but also in social, cultural and political separations, a ministry in which rich, middle class and poor come together to seek to build relationships and understanding across borders is unusual.
“The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent me to bind-up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners ...” (Isaiah 61:1).
The reality that the vision of Eduardo Perez Verdugo, an unauthorized migrant to the United States, to address root causes of immigration by creating an international coffee roasting business would have more of an impact on unauthorized migration than the plans of thousands of well-educated politicians backed by billions of dollars to build walls is unusual.
The fact that many faithful and successful professionals like Joyce and Dick can be guided and taught about life and ministry by poor recovering addicts like Laura and Raul is unusual.
“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together and a little child shall lead them. . . .” (Isaiah 9:6–9).
In a world in which political and religious divisions can be polarizing, a ministry that brings together Republicans and Democrats; PRIistas, PANistas and PRDistas; and Presbyterians, Catholics, Methodists, Mennonites, Unitarians and folks who are none-of-the above, not as enemies, but as those who seek a community that is healthier for all and who understand that we can do that better together is unusual.
The truth that Jeni, Rodolfo, Shirley, Adrian and the rest of the Frontera de Cristo board, staff and partners like you understand our call by God to joint life-giving ministry greater than any differences that we have individually or as denominations is unusual.
In these last three months that Miriam and I have been on interpretation assignment, we have come to appreciate even more the unusual bi-national ministry of Frontera de Cristo — a manifestation of the Spirit. As Frontera continues witnessing to life in the midst of death, hope in the midst of despair, and unity in the midst of division, we ask you to join us in committing to pray for God’s continued work on the U.S./Mexico border.
May God grant us eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to serve, feet to follow, minds to discern and hearts to trust Emmanuel today and each day of our lives.
The Adams Maldonado Family
P.S. At their November 18 meeting the bi-national board reaffirmed its commitment to being a conduit for God’s work on the U.S./Mexico border and have requested: (1) that the PC(USA) World Mission continue in partnership with them and (2) that the PC(USA) send us back to serve, opening ourselves to the possibilities of God’s realities bursting forth on our common border.
We will be on interpretation assignment through May 2012. Please contact us if you would like us to visit your church and share more about the ways in which God is at work through the unusual bi-national ministry of Frontera de Cristo.
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 283
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 4