Maundy Thursday April 5, 2007
This Lenten season we have witnessed two healings that are unprecedented at Tierra Nueva. Two men were healed from work-related accidents as we celebrated communion during our Spanish service. Around these healings the Holy Spirit has worked as Helper, Advocate and Provider.
Bonifacio, known affectionately as Boni, a laborer from Mexico in his mid 30s showed up at our service three weeks ago, complaining of intense pain in his finger after he’d shot a staple into it on a construction job. He’d pulled the stable, deeply embedded in the bone of his index finger with a pair of pliers. Gracie and others prayed for him. The next week he came to tell us that just after he’d received prayer communion wine had accidentally spilled from his bread onto the spot on his finger where the hole was. “All the pain went away right then and has not come back,” he told us. Hmm, sounds almost magical, but then it happened again.
Two weeks ago Boni’s friend from California, Victor showed up. He’d come up for a court hearing regarding custody of his two daughters, who CPS had taken away from his ex-partner. He hobbled into the service, and responded at the end when we invited anyone with pain to come up for prayer. Victor had caught his booted foot in a ladder on a roofing job and twisted his knee a week before.
“I could hardly walk,” he told me. “The whole way up in the car from California I was wincing, and often felt like crying from the pain,” he said.
After praying for Victor we moved into a circle and into our communion service. As we were serving communion Sara, who had not been present the week before came to me with what she called a strange idea.
“I don’t know what to do with this, but I just had a vision in my mind’s eye of wiping Victor’s knee with communion wine, what do you think?”
Since Boni had recently shared how the pain in his finger had left I was open to trying this. I had also been reflecting on how Isaiah 53 was appropriated in the New Testament to suggest that healing is tied to Jesus’ passion. I think of the Greek version of Isaiah 53:5, which says “by his bruises we ourselves were healed,” cited by 1 Peter 2:23-24, which links Jesus vulnerable suffering with forgiveness, healing and reconciliation with God as our shepherd.
And while being reviled, he did not revile in return; while suffering, he uttered no threats, but kept entrusting himself to him who judges righteously; and he himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
I approached Victor with Sara after everyone had taken communion and asked him if he was open to us wiping his knee down with communion wine. “Sure,” he said, desperate for relief. He pulled up his trousers to reveal a swollen knee and Sara applied a liberal dousing of the blood of Christ.
“The next day I woke up and there was no more pain,” said Victor, in amazement. That day he also went to court with Roger and had a positive outcome.
We had wanted to interview Victor about his healing and follow up with his court case, but couldn’t track him down until today. This morning I took my 16-year-old son Isaac down to the Department of Licensing to get his drivers license. As we awaited the examiner who Isaac would take for a spin, there was Victor parked beside me, waiting for his wife to take her exam. The lady examiner stood behind the car and called out to Isaac to turn his right and left turn indicators on, and to step on the brakes to test the brake lights. She called me over to tell me that Isaac couldn’t take the test because the third brake light didn’t work. Isaac was really disappointed. “Wait,” yells Victor, running towards us. “Here, you can use my truck.” Isaac was able to borrow Victor’s truck, which had insurance and all indicator lights in working order. Isaac passed his test and I was able to interview Victor.
For the past nearly 13 years we at Tierra Nueva have loaned our personal cars to countless Mexicans in need of a car with insurance and everything in order so they could take their driver’s tests. Today, Tierra Nueva’s Director gets some timely advocacy from an immigrant worker for his son, so he can get his license. We are forever enjoying the way God works.
Just after this while waiting for Isaac to have his picture taken I get a call on my cell phone from Angel David in Honduras. On the few remaining minutes left on his cell phone he tells me some news and asks if money will be sent soon to cover the salaries of Tierra Nueva’s 15 half-time peasant lay pastors. I tell him that we’re $25,000 short to cover March expenses and there may not be anything, unless God intervenes. “Pray David,” I urge and he clicks off, just as a call is coming in from Ron, an Episcopal priest friend in Florida.
“How are you doing financially?” he asks. “Anything more come in?”
I tell him we’re still waiting. He tells me he’s sending us $10,000 overnight mail. He had just received a gift and wanted to share some with us. “We love you guys,” he tells me, and I feel itfrom him, from Victor and from our Shepherd in heaven, the Guardian of our souls. We are filled with hope in a God who accompanies us and are ever watchful for God’s provision and deeds of power. May this resurrected Shepherd richly bless you this Easter and the weeks that follow.
We appreciate your ongoing prayers as I finish up my book On Earth As In Heaven. Check out www.bobekblad.com and www.tierra-nueva.org for travel schedule and events.
Yours in Christ,