I walked out to the skate park, tired from a long day of travel. My day had started at 2 a.m. local time; now, the sun was setting. The mixture of travel fatigue, a good Mexican supper and the feeling of “coming home” to a place we have invested in for more than a decade created a sense of wonder as a considered what I watched.
The skate park behind the YWAM Ensenada Campus is the child of my brother Omar and his wife Stephanie. Over the years they have prayed, begged, worked, fought, failed and then got up and prayed, begged, worked and fought some more. The result is the near-constant sound of skateboards rolling across the slab, ramping up the half-pipes, grinding the rails. You’ll hear conversations, laughter, some cursing and loud music. And you will see a whole community of kids and young adults finding a group of people, led by Omar
Let's watch for the ways God is at work. Cultivate a determined posture of patience and presence and gratitude.
and Steph, who show them respect, encourage them, listen to them, pray with and for them and give them an honest hope that only comes through sharing the Gospel.
“You see that guy Roberto?” Omar leaned over and motioned toward one of the skaters. “He’s been coming here since he was a little kid. The things I have watched him go through.”
As the sun sank into the ocean behind Las Islas Todos Santos, the sky turned from yellow to orange to blue, finally dark enough to make out stars and the sliver of moon. I watched Omar’s eyes as he stood to the side taking all of it in, at times shouting encouragement, more often intently talking with one or two skaters at a time. All of them, over the course of the evening, came over to talk.
This isn’t glamorous ministry. There are no quick fixes or easy answers. There are seasons where things work well, people find Jesus and get set free. There are seasons where the anger and hurt and addictions throw everything into chaos. Most of the time it’s just a lot of hard, consistent toil and faithful presence. Jane and I are honored to count Omar and Stephanie as friends, to stand alongside them on these occasions and watch the sun set behind the skatepark and over the ocean.
As the culture around us demands we put away all of the trappings of Christmas and now get back to work (since it’s really, after all, up to us to set things straight, not some imaginary Messiah born in a manger), please...just...don’t. Let's take time to reflect. To watch for the ways God is at work, regardless. Cultivate a determined posture of patience and presence and gratitude.
What a different year it could be if we did.
John Ray is a missionary, spiritual director and the elder responsible for teaching at Grace Church of NWA. John and his wife Jane spend way too much time packing and unpacking, vacuuming dog hair and chasing raccoons off their porch. They much prefer sharing good food and good coffee with friends, reading and trying to keep up with their daughters.