Christmas for the Pastors of Juarez

There are times in life when words escape you, and even when you find the words to speak they seem so empty. For someone who called to speak and to find the right words to say, I felt very inadequate.

Today our church hosted over thirty pastors from Juarez for our annual Christmas gathering and celebration. Historically this has been a joyous reunion of pastors from both sides of the river dividing El Paso and Juarez. Over the course of a normal years pastors would go back and forth ministering and working together. They would share meals at the local market, and share life together.

Sadly over the past two years these joyous times of fellowship has ceased as blood flows in the streets of the most dangerous city in the world. Now these two sister cities stand in stark contrast to each other. El Paso shines as one of the safest place in America. Children ride their bikes down the streets and play soccer on the school yard, while the streets of Juarez that once teemed with life resemble a ghost town, and when the sun goes down every one hides behind locked doors.

How does a pastor who lives in safety bless those who serve people who live in danger that lurks around practically every corner? As you might imagine words escaped me, but there are times a smile, a hug, a handshake, and a whispered prayer can say more than the finest of sermons.

A Shield Around Me

During the course of the Christmas celebration, one of the members of our church struck up a conversation with a pastor, and shared how we had been praying for them.  She pleaded “How can we help?” He responded that we are helping. He said, “I feel your prayers…they are like a shield around me.” Then he added there is no need to cross the river–just keep on praying for us.

We intended to share a blessing on this day, but we received the blessing to sit among men and women who live lives of abandonment for Jesus. Oh how I long to follow Jesus as I witnessed in their lives.

As my brothers and sisters loaded up their cars with Christmas gifts and headed home, I became increasingly thankful for the hope of Christmas for Jesus truly is “Emmanuel–God with us.” On both sides of the river, Jesus is Lord.

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