Since our “incident” with the Zetas (those fashionable guys who dress all in black), Kim has had a desire in the back of her mind which most people would consider absolutely crazy. God put on her heart the verse about loving your enemies (Matt. 5:44), and it inspired in her the desire to actually be able to lay hands on and pray for the Zetas. When God first gave her that desire, we couldn’t imagine any way in which it could possibly happen, but in His amazing way God has already made it come true.
The story has to do with a faithful woman from the Vineyard in Tierra Blanca called Lourdes. The problem was that her teenage son, Alfredo, was involved in small-time drug dealing there in the church neighborhood, as are many of the other gang members who hang out in Tierra Blanca. Now you remember that “los Zetas” is a military group associated with the Gulf coast drug mafia here. They want to dominate drug sales and have been working hard since they arrived to control the market in all the local neighborhoods. Their goal is to make sure that nobody sells drugs unless they agree to be affiliated with their particular ring. One day a truck full of the “Zetas” stopped Alfredo and informed him that he would now have to deal drugs in the Tierra Blanca area as part of their network or else they were going to kill him. Not having much choice in the matter, Alfredo consented to do ‘business’ under their direction and to meet them the following day at 9:00 p.m. When he told his mother, Lourdes, who actually lives two doors down from the church and is an increasingly faithful attender, she actually had a nervous breakdown and was taken to the emergency room for a few hours prior to her son’s departure for his ‘appointment’ that evening with the Zeta.
But Lourdes did not stay down for long. Even though her son had gone off to work with a militant terrorist group that evening with no hope or promise of return, she sought refuge in God and was the first person seated for the Wednesday night service the next day. There, we were able to pray with her and give her words of hope and encouragement, and during the ministry time we could see that God worked powerfully in her. He reminded her of a promise He had spoken to her recently, responding to years of heartfelt prayer on her part, that her family would come to Christ, but that they would first have to pass through a valley, and she took hope and comfort in knowing that her crisis situation was probably something God had allowed to happen as part of His divine plan to change her family. We (Larry and Kim) actually offered to spend the night with her that night, and she accepted, since it was her second night without Alfredo and her other son was away on an out-of-town visit. That night we were able to talk with her over dinner, and also with some other members of her family. Then we lied down to sleep, but not before seeing Lourdes sit down to read her Bible for a few minutes by her bedside.
The next morning, we offered to pray for Lourdes again before she went to work, since she was extremely tired, but did not feel she had the luxury of missing another day at the factory where she faithfully labors to support her family. So we sat her down on the bed and began to pray for her to receive strength for her first day back even after the tragedy of the day before. We could see that God was working powerfully once again in her during that prayer time, and so we wound up praying for about half an hour, but the most incredible thing of all was that the very instant she opened her eyes after the prayer we heard someone come through the door and suddenly there was Alfredo, standing right in front of her!
As for Larry and I, we could not believe how immediately God had answered our prayers, and we just stood there in utter shock, sort of feeling like we were imposing as we watched the two of them caught up in an embrace. Lourdes was crying like a baby, since it had been 36 hours since she had last seen her son and she’d had no idea when she was ever going to see him again. After a few minutes of hugging, Alfredo began to explain to his mom that he was going to be coming home days and only working for the Zetas at night. He tried to assure Lourdes that nothing would happen to her or to him as long as he complied with his responsabilities. At this point Larry and I entered back on to the scene, trying to encourage Alfredo to seek God and not to lose hope but to pray that God would provide him with a way out of this dangerous and seemingly hopeless situation. Alfredo said virtually nothing to us the whole time long, because of course he feels like there is no way out for him now and in fact it would technically be risking his life for him to even talk about betraying the Zetas with anybody. But he did consent for us to pray for him in accordance with his mother’s wishes, and when we did so saw the tears begin to flow from his eyes – for just a moment, that is, before he hardened himself once again.
…So our story, though touching, will have to end for now in a prayer request and be continued at some time in the future, whenever God moves powerfully once more, because for now Alfredo is staying home days and working very long nights with the Zetas. He has no human hope of ever getting out of this mafia alive, and probably can’t think about anything other than surviving and keeping his wife and son and the rest of his family from being hurt. But WE know God is big, and that He is bigger than our ‘earthly’ hopes. We know that He answers prayer – He has answered Kim’s prayers (that she would be able to pray for one of the Zetas) and the church’s prayers (for protection over Alfredo and that Lourdes would see him alive and well) and has promised that this whole situation is a part of his answer to Lourdes’s prayers for her family to come to Christ. So we ask YOU to pray with us – for Lourdes, for Alfredo, for his wife (Karla) and two year old son (Carlos). Pray also for the church, which is getting the attention of the neighborhood now that things are happening which truly drive people to seek God. May God move powerfully, may His Kingdom advance against the enemy, and may He be glorified as He deserves!
Here are a few photos:
On the days following this incident with Alfredo, the Vineyard in Tierra Blanca did a series of “peace marches” through the neighborhood to give hope to the community and to encourage them to seek God. As part of that they put up small posters with Bible verses throughout the neighborhood. Here Lourdes (on the right) and Lela are putting up one of the posters.
Click on the photos to see them larger at flickr!