Rusty Movements

Something is happening at the church in Las Lomitas. Something strange. Something great. We have a pastor who has been very much a preacher of obedience, of wrath, of a great and terrible God. But over these past three or four weeks, a different flavor has begun. In our personal talks with Pastor Erick, we’ve begun to talk about the person of Christ. Who was he? How did he behave? What were his wishes for his disciples? How did he propose that the church would change the world? Our conversations have taken a shift towards the fatherless, the widow, the abandoned. During the services, the name of Jesus is now being mentioned as a thing of hope, not a brick to beat over someone’s sinful obstinate head.

And (Gasp!), it seems that the church is beginning to move itself. The joints seem a little creaky, and the pastor a little uncomfortable, but from within, locomotion is beginning. During this past week, several signs of hope are bubbling up. The group of young men is starting to realize that they could actually  make a difference here. It’s a small start, but there’s already a new bench next to the soccer field, standing as a proud monument to the power of change. In addition, this same group of young men put forward $25 to match the church’s $25 to help a local widow. We have an elderly lady who is very sick and whose children are very poor. Word trickled down through the grapevine that her bed was literally rotted through, and that she is entering her last days. The church took action and last night, we had a service in her house, where we turned over her new mattress, sheets, blankets, and pillow. I had to hold back the tears as Erick passionately urged his congregation to not forget the community’s widows. To not wait until they were gone and then put something pretty on their grave. We must take care of them while they are still with us.

Then (Gasp again!), when little Noe’s need for eye surgery came up. Erick invited Noe’s Catholic mother to church to explain his needs. Then, the people responded by providing $50 to help offset the cost of the surgery. This is a culture that doesn’t typically allow for this kind of interactions between protestant and Catholics; this gesture rips apart many preconceived notions that hold down many church bodies.

Then today (nearly fainting), Erick and I went down to another widow’s home today and split firewood for a couple of hours while she wasn’t home. This particular widow has a delightful story attached to her. She goes by Doña Berta and is old, toothless, and tiny, but so full of spunk that rowdy puppies seem listless around her. Her image isn’t dampened by the bandana she constantly has tied around her head. Every other word out of her mouth is “Dang this” or “Heck that.” Enough said, she’s a fireball.

When a medical team was here from Apex, I had the pleasure of translating for her as the doc asked her for her complaints. Her reply (gesturing grandly).

“Well, you see, I have this air that starts here. RIGHT HERE in my legs. Then I feel it rise up into my stomach where it rumbles around. It makes all kinds of godawful noise. But, then, it doesn’t stop there. It keeps RIDING up, HIGHER and HIGHER! Eventually, it gets into my dang head, then comes hissing out my ears. Puchika. That’s when I know it was the air, when I hear it sliding out my head through my ears. What’s causing that Señor Doctor?”

As deadpan as possible, I translated her complaint. The doc and I looked at each other for a moment, neither of us trusting our mouths should we open them. Then, with all the professional constraint of a good practitioner, he replied. “I really don’t know.”

All of the craziness aside, my heart jumped in my chest as we were discussing what she would think when she arrived home to see all of the wood prepared. Erick said, “I wonder what she’ll think when she gets back? She’ll ask her daughter who was here.” And the answer? “Jesus.”

These are the changes that we have prayed for, cried for, and gently encouraged for more than a year now. Our dream, our vision, is to come alongside the local church and help it recognize its potential as an agent for social change. That true hope would be shared with the world. A hope that doesn’t stop at a prayer of salvation, but encompasses someone’s whole being. Let us assure ourselves that we are not simply walking coffins for a fake, dead Jesus. Our faith was never meant to be locked up and used as a weapon against those with whom we disagree, but as a viral hope: something that starts in the visible and infects the soul, overriding our cynicism and changing history.

 Written early February.


  1. What a wonderful, grace-filled, encouraging report!! Brings joy to my heart. Please provide updates!

    BTW, terrific writing here: "so full of spunk that rowdy puppies seem listless around her." Love it.

  2. Oh goodness...what a gracious and loving God we serve, who allows us to see His love take root in people's hearts and then invites us to be part of that change in their lives. This post made my heart so full of joy, not just that this change is happening at all, but that you are being encouraged by it. Praise God! I love you both!

  3. Wow, that was disappointing... I had a really nice letter of encouragement and then the stages of Google decided I had done something wrongly and would, seemingly, not let me post it. Maybe this time will be different. BASICALLY, I (textedly) laughed aloud at the idea that pastor Erick was adopting the posture of Jesus... But then, I explained that it was the laughter of joy, since I always knew God would work powerfully through him. And then I went on to say how encouraging you both have been to us back here, and how much we all appreciate what you are doing there. And I wrapped up with a bit about how I would love to come back this summer (if there even is a trip planned for your area) but that I had promised myself I would not return unless I had learned a passible Spanish, which I have not... So hopefully I can do that over the course of this year and maybe come sometime next!! All of that said/rehashed, I DO love you two for the work you are doing and the example you are setting, and will be continuing to pray for your efforts! Talk to ya later!

  4. Oh, my, what an answer to prayer! How TOTALLY encouraging to know that your quiet presence and firm comments/input have had this impact on Erick! This gives me hope for other, similar situations which we have discussed....
    And I concur with the praise of your writing, Kaleb. Your way with words is a gift, and I'm glad you have honed it and are using it for the Kingdom.
    Carol Lynne (I have no idea what Comment As means, so I chose anonymous b/c I don't have any of the other things...)