A local woman shares her faith.
Recently, a group of youth from our ministry assisted in a local church health program, Quiero Vivir Sano or “I Want to Live Healthy.” The program resulted in many contacts for Bible studies and further interest in health.
Maria Elena was one such contact, and my husband Daniel and I decided to visit her. At first, we struggled to find the location of her house. My feet were tired from walking through the city, and I felt like giving up. Daniel, however, made one last phone call and got in touch with her.
We found that Maria Elena’s house was in a small neighborhood called La Cueva de Humo, or “The Cave of Smoke.” This seemed to be an appropriate title for the area, where a large concentration of marijuana and other drugs are used. As we entered the neighborhood, our eyes confirmed this reputation. Partially-dressed people sang, while others talked to the sky. Some danced, as if in some trace. We had prayed beforehand for the Lord’s protection, and I reminded myself that we were not alone. Surprisingly, some of the roughest looking people gave us their blessing. “Dios te bendiga,” “God bless you,” “Adelante, pasa,” “Come in,” they called out. Hearing such words from these people, we knew God was with us.
As we entered Maria Elena’s home, we assessed her physical and spiritual situation. She had some health issues: varicose veins, inflammation and heart problems. We gave her the best advice we could concerning her health, and offered to give her Bible studies. She was very open to learn more, and even called for her nephew to join us. We had a wonderful study, introducing her to the principles of the gospel. She invited us to come back the following week, and we
left, thankful for the experience we’d had with her.
When we returned for the next meeting, we brought Josue, a youth from Las Delicias. He led out in the Bible study. Maria Elena invited a neighbor and her uncle
to attend the group this time, and she gave thanks to God that her health had improved. We taught her a Christian song and enjoyed another blessed study with her and her friends. When we asked Maria Elena if she would like to start an official small group study in her home, she gladly accepted.
The next week, as we made our way to Maria Elena’s house, we met her on the path. She was on her way to ask someone to fix her washing machine.
“Do you want to come with me?” she asked. “It won’t take long, and we can go to my house for the study afterwards.”
“Of course,” we responded. We walked with her down a narrow path, crowded with poorly built houses. We came to the door at the end of the path, and waited respectfully at a distance. After a few minutes, Maria Elena called us to the door.
“I want you to meet Andrea. I told her about the Bible studies and health advice you gave me, and I think you can help her too. She said she would like to meet you.”
We walked in and spoke with Andrea for a bit, giving her some advice and encouragement from the Bible. She thanked us for the visit and we continued to Maria’s house. As we walked, Maria told us that she had just met Andrea for the first time. They were strangers, and yet she felt impressed that we should share with her. Maria Elena, with only two Bible studies under her belt, had already become a missionary. She continued to invite her neighbors and family to attend the small group in her home. While wrapping up the last study we had with her, Josue made an appeal. “Would you accept Jesus as your personal Savior?” he asked.
With a peaceful smile, and eyes filled with hope, Maria Elena answered, “Yes.” We prayed for her and her friends, took a picture for a memory, and said goodbye until the next time.
Little did we realize that we had seen Maria Elena for the last time on this earth. The next week, she didn’t answer our knock at the door, but a family member who lived nearby broke the news to us. She had passed away two days before.
We were shocked and heartbroken, but at the same time, a peace and joy filled our hearts. The Lord had used us as instruments to bring the gospel to this precious soul. Maria Elena was never baptized and she never entered an Adventist church, yet she died a faithful missionary. She taught us lessons in witnessing that we will not soon forget. Currently we are continuing to study the Bible with one of her neighbors.
Author: Kelly Miranda and her husband Daniel are volunteers at Fundación Las Delicias, a self-supporting ministry equipping youth for ministry in Bible work, health, and agriculture. Fifty students accompanied by staff are sent into the surrounding communities on a weekly basis to give Bible studies, health education, and also love to the orphan children.
How You Can Help
Pray for Maria’s family, that they will accept Jesus into their hearts. Pray for all the Bible workers ministering to the people in these eight churches and surrounding communities.
Donate. If you have a desire in your heart to help Bible workers reach more people in Columbia with our message of love, mark your donations “Las
Delicias,” and send it to:
Mission Projects International
PO Box 506
Republic, WA 99166-0506
For electronic options, visit www.missionspro.org/donate.