“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8
Can I ever relate to this passage! At 8 p.m. on Thursday, January 1, 1998, I boarded a bus bound for Monterrey, Mexico. This was not just another trip; this was my long awaited move. I truly “Set out, not knowing where I was going”, because you see… I had never even as much as visited this city. I only had two telephone numbers of people to contact, no place to stay, and no idea what would be waiting for me on the other end of my bus trip. The other thing I had, was the absolute belief and faith that God called me to Monterrey to start a church.
By the time the sun started to rise (it’s a 12 hour ride from Guadalajara), I had just enough light to read one of my devotionals. The above passage from Hebrews and the caption below, is what was written for January 2nd! in “My Utmost for His Highest”. Here is a capsule of what I read that morning -Have you ever “Gone Out” in this way? If so, there is no logical answer possible when someone asks you what you are doing.
I received a Calling of the Holy Spirit on November 11, 1996, to plant an MCC Church in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. I had left an exceptionally great job after 8 years, and couldn’t really understand WHY. A few days later, my roommate of 4 years announced to me that he was moving. Then I began to realize that all of my church related commitments were approaching some sort of closure. I had been a very active and loyal member of MCC of the Resurrection [Houston, Texas] for 8 years. Throughout this time, I had become involved in many ministries and held several key leadership roles. This was the first time, I didn’t know where or what I was going to do next. I had been sooo busy for sooo long, that I never took the time to sit still long enough to know. God had to engineer these circumstances in my life, so that I was forced to sit still and to listen.
By way of preparation, I literally sold and/or gave away everything I had to “Follow This Call”… and to “Feed My Sheep” in a foreign land. The problem was, I didn’t follow all the instructions… I kept the money from the sale of the items. This certainly seemed logical to me, I was planning to live in Mexico City for a full year prior to planting this new church. I was going to need the money to support myself. Three weeks into living in my new city/country, I had this money removed [unknowingly and unwillingly] from my account. Once again, God was engineering a set of circumstances to help lead, guide, and direct me. You see, I had also been praying for years for God to strengthen my faith… To say the least, this was an effective way! I found out that in reality, I didn’t really “need” that money… I just “wanted” those funds. What I apparently needed, was the assurance that “I” could survive on “My” own resources. Yeah Right!
One of the most difficult questions to answer in Christian work is, “What do we expect to do?” We don’t know what we are going to do. The only thing we know is that God knows what God is doing or going to do. I highly recommend you continually examine your attitude toward God entirely. It is this attitude that keeps us in constant wonder, because we don’t know what God is going to do next. Each morning as we awake, there is a new opportunity to “Go Out”, building our confidence in God. “…do not worry about your life… nor about your body…” (Luke 12:22) In other words, don’t worry about the things that concerned you before you did “Go Out.”
Never run before God gives you the direction. If you have the slightest doubt, then God is not guiding. Whenever there is doubt – Wait! I never for a single moment, hesitated nor doubted. When I arrived here in Monterrey, I went to a payphone in the bus station and dialed the first number I had. Within forty minutes, this person [I had never met] came and picked me up… his name is Ruben. First he took me to breakfast so we could get acquainted, then for a tour of the city… Remember, I had never before even visited here! Afterwards, he took me to a friend’s house, which is where I stayed for the first four days.
Later in this same day, I dialed the other telephone number I had and made an appointment to meet this person (Abel) at 7:30 p.m. that evening. Within an hour of arriving, Abel offered me a place to office, a space for worship services, and a room to sleep in (at least for the next few weeks)… All Gratis! He’s not a Christian, and claims to not believe in God. Amazing Grace… How Sweet She Is!
During the coming week, I was a guest on a radio program, was invited to write for two newspapers, had the support of a very popular liberal Diocesan Priest, and had an appointment to meet with his Bishop. I also met with several people to hopefully gain their support for this new work. By 8 p.m. Friday, January 9th (exactly one week later), we were having our first service as an ICM (MCC). Even more amazing, was that we had 41[forty-one] people in attendance!… and in a space that comfortably only holds 15!
The fact that this many doors were effortlessly opened, and continue to be opened, are my calm assurances that, I never did have anything to worry about as I “Set out, not knowing where I was going.”
During this short time here in Monterrey, it is evident just how needed and necessary this church is to people here. Apparently, every Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender person here had been praying for help… praying for God to send a Light for their Darkness!
There are probably in excess of a quarter million people who fall into this category. I am but one of only three openly gay persons in this entire city. It hasn’t take long before they found me. Today, almost one year later, we have over 150 people participating in the life of this church… this community. People are getting involved and lives have been saved and changed. And yet, we still have so much to do! There are still so many lonely, confused, hurting, and un-informed people to reach… to share this Unconditional Love of God through the Liberating Messages and Gospels of Jesus Christ.
Quite frankly, we are not yet fully self-supporting, so any help or encouragement through your prayers, letters, and/or financial support, is appreciated. You can help to make an even bigger difference, without even having to “Go Out!”