Written by Matthew Simpson
She sat in a weathered chair in front of her simple brick home. A black bandana covered her head, bald from chemotherapy. Three young girls, under the age of 10, played around her. The youngest took a big sip of a nutrition drink leaving a white mustache on her beautiful brown face causing all of us to laugh. She squealed with delight at the attention she was receiving.
This is the kind of moment you can’t even dream of when planning a missions trip for 30 plus college students from an engineering school in Arizona. We set up roofing jobs as a part of our Tin Roof Project and we plan for ministries like visiting shut-ins. But in our 20 years we have never had the two come together quite like this. You hope there will be moments of intention, moments where hearts are recalibrated and perspectives shift. You hope for moments where you can actually see lives being changed in real time. But we can not manufacture these moments, they’ll must be orchestrated by God.
Facing a diagnosis like bone cancer in such a desperate situation would test even the most devout in their faith. But for Imelda, it’s a chance for her to prove just how good God is at creating divine moments like this! She sat proudly in that old chair, a brand new tin roof gleaming in the Mexican sun meant no more rain running down the walls turning dirt floors into a muddy mess during monsoon season. The doctors tell her that the treatments are working. She holds on to something that will level all of the desperation, that will bring the work of the enemy to ruin-Imelda holds on to hope In Jesus.
Earlier that day, a group of our students replaced her crumbling roof with a tin roof that will last. And now here we are gathered around Imelda and her family praying, laughing, crying. We gave her beans and some other essentials. We gave the girls tooth brushes and the nutritional drinks.
When we finished praying for Imelda she spoke and Aldaberto translated her message to us. These were her words; “When Jesus heals me, I want be a missionary like you.”
We were not worthy of that moment. Despite the good we try to do, we couldn’t earn a statement like that. Her faith humbled us. Her certainty in the face of overwhelming odds inspired us. Not “if” but “when” God heals her, she plans to serve others! Hearts were recalibrated, perspectives shifted, lives were being changed in real time. Only God could orchestrate a moment like this!
In Romans 8:28, the missionary Paul writes, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." It is my prayer that we walk through life with faith like Imelda, no matter the circumstances, always trusting in God to work things out as we follow Him.
Please pray for Imelda and her family. Please prayerfully consider giving to Caring Hearts so people like Imelda can get the treatment they so desperately need. And if at all possible, book a trip with Caring Hearts and watch God orchestrate moments like this...in real time.