A few years ago I took to heart Jesus’ words to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations …” (Matthew 28:19) a friend and I signed up for a two-week mission trip to Saltillo, Mexico, with a group of 30 young people and three other chaperones. The sponsoring church in Saltillo was located in a poor district of the large city. We bused down in an old school bus and bunked down in an unused building that once had been a sports facility. Accommodations were crude but adequate.
Our mission was to bring the story of Jesus’ love and salvation to the people. Along with native interpreters, our teams walked door to door each day. Because the Mexican people were much more open to hear the Gospel message from Americans than from their own people, we had great success.
We Americans had been given a cheat sheet earlier, and time to practice speaking Gospel message phrases with each other. Above each English phrase was the same in Spanish. All we had to do was follow the script. By the time we arrived in Saltillo, most of us had succeeded in at least not slaughtering the Spanish language. The operative word here is “most,” as I stumbled and fumbled through it every time. In spite of my ineptness, almost all our listeners responded by offering their lives to God. After we left the country, our host church would follow up with each new convert.
I managed through all but one of the Spanish phrases whenever my turn came around. One day, however, I was told to speak to three teenage boys sitting on the hood of an old junker. After all, it was my turn. The unkempt guys looked a bit threatening, though, enough so I felt intimidated. As the mom of teenage boys, I knew to expect disrespect, or worse. How could I ever speak to them about the Lord when their minds were elsewhere, according to my observation? But stop I did.
The interpreter explained our mission and introduced me to the boys. I began my shoddy Spanish spiel. Sweat soon dripped down my face and neck. I stumbled through until I reached the most crucial sentence, the one asking for a response to Christ’s call. The one written in the most difficult Spanish I had to speak.
“Quieres conocer a Jesus?” I asked, slaughtering the words. “Do you want to know Jesus?”
Embarrassed, scared, and beyond nervous, I started to giggle. My friend poked me. “Sally, stop! What would Pastor Andy say? Quit laughing.”
I giggled harder. Sweated heavier. Soon everyone but my friend started chuckling along with my nervous giggles. Surprisingly, the boys retained their politeness through the laughter and each vowed to accept the Lord into their lives.
We continued to the end, the boys shook my hand, smiled, and, I was sure as I walked away, laughed behind my back at my outrageous message.
That night, our group met in a nearby park to lead a service. Our youngsters put on a moving skit, we sang hymns, the leader preached, and prayers were lifted for those needing healing. At the end of the service, the three boys, now well-dressed walked over to me. Each smiled and gave me a hug. Evangelism blues turned to gold.
Adios, mis amigas.