Posts Tagged ‘Marcos’

Spiritual Sons, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Mexico Staff

February 23, 2010

One day in late September we were sitting in church listening to our pastor give his sermon, when out of nowhere he stopped, turned toward me and said, “Matt, God is going to give you Spiritual Sons.”

Of course I somewhat in shock that he was taking the time to share this word from the Lord with me right in the middle of his sermon, but I nodded in agreement, and then he just turned and went on with his sermon.

I found myself in wonder at a man that has the ability to listen to God so intently that during his sermon he could actually discern a word of encouragement (or prophecy) for me, stop and take the time to share it with me, and then go on with his sermon without skipping a beat. I loved it. I loved that my pastor could be so in tune to God’s voice, and I loved the promise that God had for me in the message he delivered to me through the pastor. From that day forward I began to think on those words, and imagine what exactly it might look like when they would come to pass.

Later in the fall, a handful of the boys that live with my wife and I made decisions for Christ from a church drama, and during an altar call at church.  So of course I began to think that that was the fulfillment of the pastor’s words. I just assumed, because in my simple mind I couldn’t imagine what else it could be.  Little did I know that there was more, and that in a sense it had more to do with me than it did with our boys.

In November, a sister church of our church was holding a youth retreat about three hours outside of Monterrey in a tiny little town called La Chona. The youth pastor from our church was invited to lead worship for the weekend, and he had invited me to sing with the worship band. At first I saw the invitation to sing in the worship band as being way outside of my bull’s eye of responsibilities. However, then it occurred to me that perhaps I could make it work if I took my boys along with me!  So I made the decision that we would go together as a house. Although in the end only four of the eight ended up being able to go, it later was clear to me that they were exactly the four that God wanted to be there.

For me, the weekend was three unforgettable days of meeting with God, being renewed in my spirit, challenged by the Lord, and used for his glory as we ministered through music and prayer. Early on in the weekend I began to feel that the Lord wanted me to “let go” in the way I worshiped Him.  I knew that I sometimes held back, too concerned for what others thought of me.  I felt personally challenged to begin to worship the Lord as King David did, as if I was all alone and to no longer worry about what others thought about me.  I realized that at times I was particularly worried what my teenage boys might think of me. Then God began to bring something to mind. When we raise our children from a young age they watch us, and model us, and learn what is normal and acceptable by our example. Then God began to impress upon me that it was exactly the same with my “big boys” and my example to them in how I pursue God and how I worship him. And so, I took the step of faith with God, and decided to “let go”. I decided that if while in the presence of the Lord I felt led to raise my hands, or sing a new song, or jump, or dance, or whatever. . . that I would not worry about what others were thinking, and I would not hold back. In the end I realized that whatever I do in the Lord’s presence is ALL for Him anyway!

As I began to let go, and worship as the Holy Spirit led, something amazing happened. First of all, I found a brand new level of freedom in my worship of God; and second, my boys, in following my lead, began to worship the Lord freely as well. In that exact moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks…the Lord had given me “Spiritual Sons”! I took great joy in sharing with them that although I do not have the honor of being their earthly father, that I feel all of the pride of a dad in seeing my “sons” seek the Lord with all of the heart, soul, and strength!

Embracing Marcos, one of the teens that lives in our home through Back2Back's Hope Education Program

Marathon, by Mandy Lail

September 4, 2009

This summer, I was often asked by mission trip guests, “What does a typical day look like in a Teen Home of the Hope Program?”

Wow, the best answer is actually…  “There is no typical day – each one is a new adventure!” As you can imagine, it’s semi-controlled chaos in a teen home on our Back2Back Mexico campus.  Days are full with households ranging in size from seven to sixteen! There are endless responsibilities and conversations for managing meals, chores, curfews, school enrollment, studying for exams, school supplies, friends, jobs and everything else that comes with raising teens (and staff kiddos, as well).

Cooking dinner with the boys

Cooking dinner with the boys

As a Teen Home parent, I often feel winded, like I just finished a sprint, but in reality it’s more of a marathon.  Many days will not hold a visible pivotal ministry moment.  Many days feel more like a chaotic dash of the never ending “stuff” to be done. But the precious reality of this ministry is the invested time – living life together.  Because we are here day in and day out, because we can be found in the kitchen or upstairs at all hours, because we sit and eat with them, because we are here…over time many of these students will allow us entrance into their tangle.

The lives of our teens are a tangle of old wounds, dysfunctional family connections, hopes and dreams for the future, and worries about the present.  It’s a mighty tangle.  But the beauty is that when we choose to entangle ourselves into their daily tangle, many begin to allow us more and more entrance into their lives.  And then, in those unplanned and unpredictable moments of living life together, God just might allow us to speak His truth to them and they just might listen.

This summer felt like a daily sprint with our summer schedule of visiting short-term mission groups and end-of-the-year activity at school for our boys.  I ended each day exhausted and often overwhelmed.  But now that it has passed, God has graciously reminded me that He was at work the whole time.  In the midst of that constant dash, I shared the gospel with Pablo late one night.  I spoke truth to Marcos about who he is and what God wants for him, after an issue at school.  I had a difficult but necessary conversation with Mario about his behavior and choices in life. I had multiple conversations with Homero about his decisions and who God has made him to be.  And I was able to answer Gabriel that yes, indeed, I would love to be the mother he never had.

None of these were planned moments. They happened in the car, at the kitchen table, and sitting at the lake, all because we have chosen to entangle ourselves in their tangles.  Up close, it feels like a sprint.  It’s tiring; it’s intense; and sometimes, even maddening.  But when we can step back and look at it like a marathon, it’s nothing short of miraculous.