Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tijuana Time - Part Dos

I was "warned" that the church service on Sunday was going to easily be two hours long; it was...and then some. But I wouldn't have known unless someone pointed it out to me.

We were in a warehouse in the middle of Tijuana in a neighborhood, we were told, that you did not want to be in at night. Cement floors swept clean, red carpet that was donated covered the area where approximately 100 chairs - mismatched, old, and dirty - were set. About 40 people, including kids, filled the chairs.

The service began with some praise and worship, unfortunately for those of us who are are Spanish-impaired, we couldn't sing along until we figured out what the song was and then, we could only sing along if we knew the words. It didn't' matter though that I didn't know the words - God is really cool that way - I was still drawn in despite the language barrier. I felt almost like I had an advantage because I wasn't distracted by trying to follow along to the power point, or distracted by some lyrics that have become so familiar that I don't even "hear" them anymore. It was just worship and intentional worship at that.

After praise and worship, the kids were dismissed to children's church; after they left, there were a lot of seats left open-in fact, church looked "empty." Joel, a Christian guy with an awesome testimony, was going to translate the message for us. Joel used to live in the United States so he speaks very fluent English and Spanish and he teaches an English class every Sunday morning before church.

At first, it was hard to follow Joel, it was a little noisy and I had to almost look right at him to hear and understand. I was a bit discouraged and so I asked God to have me hear that day, what he wanted me to hear.

Over the next hour or so while Kuko, the pastor, delivered the message, a transformation took place. Toward the end of the message Kuko explained that the church, only 3 years old, started as a small group study; he asked the original members of the small group to stand up. Approximately 10 people stood up. He asked them to stay standing.

Then he asked the people who started attending that 2nd year when they became an official church to join the others that were standing. Another 20-25 people stood up.

The people who had started attending within the last year were asked to stand up and join the others. Maybe 25-30 people stood up.

Kuko then asked anyone, including the Americans who were visiting, who was attending for the first time to stand up. Approximately 30 people stood up.

Kuko explained that three years ago he had to choose to believe that God would build this church; that he asked the people to stand to strengthen their faith about what God was doing and to strengthen his faith. Because he believed, he said, they were going to set up another 30 chairs for the following week and he was going to believe that God would fill them.

It was then that I realized that almost every chair had a person in it. Church was "full." I felt as if God was saying to me, "Janelle, look what I can do."

I don't know what happened that following Sunday; I wish I could have confirmation of what I believe God did.

God is on the move in Tijuana, even on the streets where drugs, violence, prostitution and stealing are taking place.

It only makes sense, God wants to be where the hurting people are.


  1. Sounds like an amazing service. I'm really enjoying these posts...

  2. PTL!

    In simple surroundings God could remove the "distractions" of our fancy-smansy Americanized worship services, huh?

    Isn't it amazing that God is alive and well and active all over His earth?


  3. Awesome. Thanks for sharing this. Looking forward to hearing more about your mission trip!

  4. I love hearing about the trip & love hearing how you're listening to God and what He says to you! Please keep sharing...

  5. It's just wonderful to see how God answered our prayers for you, the traveling, and those you were ministering to!!! He is so good!!

  6. Wonderful account - thanks for sharing :-)

  7. Another great story from your trip! So glad you're sharing these here, Janelle. I'm praying this morning for the folks in Tijuana.