God Works Within The Unknown
Trigger Warning: Addiction
“Deep in the territory of a prominent drug cartel, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Jorge shares his story with me. A father of four, living in a house made out of salvaged material, on a small plot dug into the side of a hill, he talks of the rotating schedule he and his wife maintain for their family. He leaves early in the morning for a 12-hour shift while his wife leaves in the evening for her shift. They each earn about $7 per day, while their eldest child takes on responsibilities with the children and home.
The school fees for four children are beyond their budget, and the need for home support means the eldest will never go to school. Through the interpreter, I come to understand that his situation is not unusual in Juárez. I feel a connection with Jorge as he shares a new struggle. His hardest time of the day is early morning when he has a strong urge to smoke marijuana. He wants freedom over this addiction and asks for prayer in that area. After we pray together, I offer to be with him in the mornings as support. I didn’t know what to expect of our time without the interpreter, but God was simply telling me to go.
The next morning, I bring coffee to share and am astonished as we sit down and start chatting. Jorge is speaking to my ear in perfect English. We talk of the amazing work of God and how his love can carry us through our challenges. We are energized by talking about God’s power and encouraged by our new friendship. As he heads off to the bus stop for his hour-long commute to work, we part ways with a big hug.
With two coffees in hand, I arrive at Jorge’s home early the next morning. We greet each other with excitement. Him in Spanish. Me in English. Both of us confused, we try again. Still in our own languages.
“Just speak in English,” I said, implying simplicity.
Jorge chuckles and says, “No, tú hablas español.”
I tell him that I don’t speak Spanish. And he tells me he doesn’t speak English. Astounded at this reality, we realize we had encountered God’s divine intervention the day before. Unknown to us at the time, God broke the barrier of language. He allowed us to connect and communicate without even knowing each other’s language.
We shared a bond from that moment, and I continued working with God in supporting Jorge and his family. They would visit us at the orphanage that my wife and I were managing. We would often share food, clothes, and school supplies with them. My wife would teach English to his kids, including the eldest child. Eventually, with the help of a mission team, we partnered with Jorge to build a solid house for his family.
The power from that first morning together, from the unknown, clearly showed me that God intentionally brought our lives together.
I think back on that experience, and I am reminded of the many unknowns where God was at work. The very call to direct the orphanage and the unknowns would have overwhelmed our rational, human approach to the decision to move from Calgary to Juárez with our three young boys.
We likely would have made a different decision if God told us about the financial setbacks ahead, or if we knew that the orphanage was not properly set up as a charitable organization or that the property was not legally secured. Also unknown to us was how much influence the cartel had on the city, and that our particular neighbourhood (Anapra) was referred to as “the armpit of Mexico” by locals.
Stepping into that unknown and keeping our eyes on Christ through the challenges put us in a place to partner with God in His work. We witnessed miracles and experienced the extent of God’s power and protection throughout our time in Juárez. The plan God had at that orphanage went beyond caring for the small group of young children living there. With greed and corruption around us, the battle to protect the children and their homes was our highest priority.
God brought the right people into our lives to be able to set up the orphanage as a charitable organization and navigate the legal system to secure the land. With God’s protection and guidance, we literally fought off attacks from the legal, financial, spiritual, and even from a physical standpoint.
The details of the unknowns can be distractions that potentially interfere with our ability to walk in faith. Peter in Matthew 14:29, with his eyes on Jesus was able to walk on water. As soon as he became distracted by the details around him, he began to sink.
I learned that you don’t always need to know what happens next, what God wants you to do, or exactly where God wants you to go. God simply says “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9). He knows every detail of His plan for you. When we let Him lead and ignore the distractions, we are exactly where He wants us – partnering with Him in His work.
From one unknown to another, God eventually led us back to Canada. From that time until now, we certainly had struggles along the way, and often allowed challenges to be a distraction. We had a difficult transition and struggled finding a church family.
Our first time attending FAC about 5 years ago was very meaningful. We connected with the greeters, felt the presence of God during worship, and learned more about His word during the service. We felt at home. We are excited for what God is doing through the people of FAC.
We look forward to what is ahead and how God will continue to work in the unknown.”
Thank you, Mark, for sharing your story of the adventures God has taken you and your family. We love journeying alongside each other at FAC. Let’s do life together!