Often shrouded in mist and rain, Mexico’s Sierra Norte Mountains hide a forgotten people—descendants of Aztec Indians whose ancestors fled from European conquerors. Although forgotten by the world, they have not been forgotten by God. Decades ago He sent two devoted missionaries, Leonardo and Maria Morales, to the region’s poor mountain villages. There they found hungry hearts, and they spent several years spreading the gospel and planting churches. Hundreds of lives were impacted.
Leonardo was excited to report back to his denominational leaders all that God was doing. Their enthusiasm, however, fell short of his expectations. They reprimanded him for not collecting money from the new churches for the denomination’s coffers. Leonardo and Maria were stunned. As they defended themselves, they were only more humiliated, and a rift was borne. The leaders ultimately traveled to Leonardo’s churches and told his people that he was rebelling against their leadership.
Leonardo and his family were devastated. They were no longer welcome in many of the churches that they had personally planted. Feeling betrayed and wrongly accused, they disappeared from public sight, seldom leaving their small home. Their once fruitful ministry died.
But that is not the end of the story.
Some years later, God sent two more missionaries to the Sierra Norte Mountains: Americans Jason and Nicole Fitzpatrick. In their travels they discovered Leonardo and Maria, who were still living in their tiny home—and still suffering the pain of their past. Leonardo was very ill and in pain, and his 71-year-old frame was skeletal. Jason and Nicole brought food and contacted Heaven’s Family to request help from our Critical Medical Needs Fund to take Leonardo to a doctor. Money was sent, but the diagnosis was kidney cancer in its late stages. More funds were sent for wishful treatment, but it was too late. In spite of everyone’s prayers, Leonardo was soon with the Lord.
God, however, is in the redemption business. Through the ministry of Jason and Nicole, Leonardo and Maria released their long-standing bitterness against those who had hurt them years before. And one of Leonardo’s final requests was that Jason would conduct his funeral.
On that day, 400 people gathered to pay their final respects to a man whom God had used mightily years before. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Jason told Leonardo’s story and spoke about Jesus’ desire for unity in His body. The Lord used Leonardo’s passing and Jason’s timely message to melt hearts hardened by years of strife and division. Longstanding bitterness was relinquished, forgiveness flowed, and broken relationships were mended. Also on that day, Maria returned to the community of believers.
And that was just the beginning. Since the funeral, congregations in the region that have harbored grudges against each other are working together as one for the glory of God.
Although God doesn’t cause all things, and not all things are good, we know that He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).