Commitment, desire or both things?
Stand And Deliver is a film based on a real history. It deals with a mathematics professor, who is descending from the Mayan culture (very famous for the mathematical knowledge). He gets involve with students that are academically behind and helps them obtain a passing grade for the entrance examination to the university. The professor had such commitment, which manages to encourage the desire and willfulness’ of all the students needed to obtain their goal. Was this commitment, desire or both things?
As missionaries in Mexico we have had the experience of living the same history between the Pastors on the Congregational Christian Church and the Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church in Mexico. Mexico is a beautiful country that captivates you with its beauty, folklore, fauna, and mainly with its people. But as well as it captivates you, it lets you see the pain and the necessity of the people with churches that have leadership better enabled in all the ministerial areas in comparison with other cultures. The churches reflect the social and economically reality of most of the towns. In the last four years, the Mexican Pastors have helped us to extend the concept of what commitment is and the desire to serve God.
With the endorsement of the Global Ministries, we have taken upon the task to expand and invigorate the academic base and the theological formation of the Pastors of these churches. Many hours in buses are required by these Pastors to attend the courses (some travel up to 30 hours without resting), with risks of assaults, kidnappings, fatigue, and without many basic things, which leaves us deeply impressed.
At the beginning of the year one Pastor commented to us, that since the church is unable to economically sustain him, he is forced to partially work like an agriculturist (seeding beans for the US) with a salary of $5.00 USD for a day’s work. Obviously, this does not allow him to cover the minimum wage for the basic necessities for him and his family of three children. In July of the 2004 this one Pastor attended the summer courses that we offered for their pastoral qualification and like other Pastors he arrived without money and without notebooks. He told us with much sadness that for the next two years he will not be able to work seeding beans anymore due to the Free Trade Agreement with Mexico, where they reduced the quota to export these beans.
We wondered how it is possible that these pastors resist as much and from where did this desire emerge. Later we had the answer. A telephone call came for Hilario (one of the Pastors who attended the courses). It was his wife wanting to know if he arrived safely because she knew that he came without money. Also, his daughter of eight years of age talks on the telephone and she reminds him not to forget her birthday gift. The eyes of Hilario filled with tears and with a cut voice answered “We will see my darling, what can be done.” By the tears we thought that something terrible had happened and we asked him. He told us that his daughter wanted, as a gift, a bag of chips ($0.50 cents USD).
We could not understand how in such circumstances there was such commitment and sacrifice at such a high emotional price. With mixed emotions of fear and hurt we asked Hilario if it was commitment, desire or both things. He answered to us ” It is the love and understanding with a complete attitude of gratefulness, towards God, for inviting us to be part of his ministry.”
Let us pray so that God allows us to continue accompanying these pastors and brothers in the ministry. Let us work towards a just and equitable world. Let us fight for humanitarian governments. Let us learn to also see God in the meager and being thankful in everything.
Justino Perez Ojeda and Zaida Rivera
Centro Alberto Rembao
Justino Perez-Ojeda and Zaida D. Rivera serve as missionaries with the Christian Congregational Churches of Mexico in Guadalajara, Mexico. Justino and Zaida serve as co-coordinators of the Alberto Rembao Ecumenical Center.