Dules and Fatima are in their midtwenties. They have three young kids and their family lived outside of Altamira in a remote area where they owned some land and lived the tough but good life of growing their food and making everything they owned. They liked the life they had there. Then, in signing some land documents, they trusted Dules’ sister with the details. She took them for all they had and they were left homeless. They moved to Altamira hoping to start over. Dules struggled greatly, feeling as though he let his family down and feelings of failure overwhelmed him. He left his family for long stretches looking for work but also turned to alcohol and infidelity.
We met them because Fatima was experiencing severe abdominal pain and someone from the Vineyard told her that Deanna would be able to help her. We met them one evening on our porch. The diagnosis of the abdominal pain was not difficult and treatment was provided. They were so grateful for the help. Dules openly shared his heart and his journey and his feelings of shame. He wanted to return to his Father. We counseled him on the Father’s heart for him and that Jesus’ Good News is God’s love for the prodigal rather than where the prodigal has been or what he has done. (Luke 15:11-24) We counseled them on their marriage and on the healing power of forgiveness. The cleansing forgiveness Jesus offered, Fatima’s forgiveness of her husband, and their forgiveness of his sister. We prayed. They prayed and gave their hearts to Jesus. We gave them food. In two weeks, Fatima was symptom-free and all smiles. They’ve been to church ever since and remain hungry for Jesus. We’ve seen them several times and their countenance is so changed. They are speaking to others about this wonderful God that they met and they are inviting their neightbors to church.
Jesus pursues and captures with His love in this wild, difficult part of His world in the same way that He loves and pursues men and women everywhere. Circumstances (usually painful) open our ears and our eyes to honesty and truth. Jesus rescues (better word than "saves" today) us. He cleanses and frees the captives (captives to reason, or understanding, or comfort, or substances, or self-indulgence, or suffering, etc). His mercy (undeserved favor) is new and ready every morning and never runs out. He offers rest, perspective, and the totally life-changing love of the Rescuer and the One who made us.