Moises Has a Problem
Pastor Manuel waved me over to where he was standing beside a man at the edge of the crowd. There were children everywhere and they were all having a great time. The “Escuela Para La Vida” ministry in Oxcum has been very successful.
On this particular day in August of this year, there was the additional excitement generated by a group of 16 people from Mt Pisgah Baptist Church from Easley, South Carolina who were participating in various evangelistic events with Project Yucatan. The church group had integrated well with the Escuela Para La Vida personnel and the children in Oxcum.
I picked my way through the throng of boys and girls who were having a great time and made it over to Manuel and his friend. “This is Moises. I want you to meet him. He has a problem and he knows it; he needs help. I told him that you can pray for him.”
I knew immediately what his problem was. The smell of alcohol was strong and mixed with the hot, humid tropical weather produced a sickening smell. His eyes were bloodshot; he was sober enough to carry on a conversation if one could be patient during his stumbling speech.
“I have a problem with alcohol” said Moises. He went on to admit his weakness and slavery to strong drink. All the time he was talking he was holding a device in his hand about the size of a cell phone. As I glanced at it, I recognized it as one of the digital Bibles that we have distributed in Yucatan.
These digital Bibles are unique devices that not only contain Scripture but also messages and Bible lessons. We use them in house churches, Bible study groups, and settings where there are believers but no organized church. In this case, Manuel had been witnessing to Moises, an alcoholic, and recognized that although addicted to alcohol, he was also a man who was desperately seeking for a way out of his misery.
Alcoholism and substance abuse is a deep-rooted problem in Yucatan. Statistics show that 3 out of 5 men consume alcohol. Having spent my youth and several years as a resident missionary on the Peninsula of Yucatan I have seen first-hand the damage and suffering caused by alcohol abuse. I have seen the families that suffer when the husband and father of a family is so addicted that he takes the majority of the meager family wages and spends them foolishly on a weekend of drunkenness. I have seen the wives and children who have suffered physical abuse because the man that is their husband or father is so drunk that he does not realize he is abusing his own family.
Daylight was fading as Moises showed me the digital Bible. He didn’t realize that I had delivered the very device he was holding to Yucatan for ministry delivery. “I listen to this every evening as I drift to sleep in my hammock.” I shared with Moises that God not only wanted to deliver him from alcoholism, but also wanted to save his soul. Moises relaxed as we talked and then I prayed with him. Daylight faded as he turned and walked down the dirt street to his hut; he would once again take the digital Bible and listen to it as he fell asleep that night.
I compared the difference in people we had engaged with that day. On the one hand, we had participated in ministry activity with children. It was fun, enjoyable, and a blessing. The children enjoyed the group from South Carolina and our participation in the activities of the day. It was easy to love these kids, your heart goes out to the boys and girls who live in simple surroundings and are thrilled with any attention that we give them.
The drunkard, on the other hand, was not an enjoyable experience. The smell of a drunk in tropical heat can be nauseating. It requires infinite patience to talk to him, waiting to see if our words are sinking in, repeating ourselves when necessary so that he can grasp the significance of our conversation.
My initial reaction when Manuel called me over to Moises was a feeling of ‘oh, here we go again, talking to another drunk.’ But, I was immediately reminded that our Lord showed His love to me, an undeserving sinner, and gave His only Son for my redemption.
As Global Faith missionaries, we will continue with the work that God has called us to do. Sometimes it is thoroughly enjoyable such as engaging with receptive children in activities and Bible lessons. Other times, it requires us to be up close and smell the stench of a man who has not bathed and reeks of alcohol. In either case, we do it to share the liberating gospel of Christ so that lives can be eternally changed.