Do you remember the sign at the prize counter in the arcade? Redeem your tickets here. It meant that you have done the things asked of you and now you can receive your reward.
Webster classifies the word redeem as a verb. It is an active word. Action accompanies this word. The definition is this "to free from the consequences of sin".
The redeeming power of God's love, mercy, and grace were so clearly demonstrated before our eyes over this past week. We were blessed to be able to put together the first retreat for the teens here in Santa Rosa. You can read about that here. We had been praying for several weeks that God's power would be at work in the lives of these teens that weekend and as usual our ideas fell incredibly short of what He would come to do that weekend. On Saturday night 4 teens gave their lives over to God and put on Christ in baptism. A total of 8 teens would become our brothers and sisters in Christ that weekend. But the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus didn't stop there.
Church here meets on Sunday night for regular worship service, Tuesday night is a night of praise and prayer, Thursday night is discipleship classes, Friday night is for the life groups, and Saturday night is for the teens. On the Tuesday night following the retreat our fellow missionaries, Phil and Donna Waldron, came up to us to tell of more fruit that was been born as a result of the retreat. One of the teens that was bapitzed Saturday night was Nelson. Turns out that Nelson is 21, not that uncommon here since a jóven (young person) is anyone from 13-29 In our youth ministry program we make our age range 13-21. The story from there becomes one that only God could orchestrate.
Nelson goes home to his uncles house and tells them of how he has given his life over to God and was baptized. He then tells them that he needs to go and reconcile to his common-law wife Yulissa and their 2 year old son Nelson Gustavo. Nelson had gotten Yulissa pregnant at 16 and had stayed with her for a time until his drinking and trouble making led her to kick Nelson out of the house and out of her and their son's lives.
Nelson moved in with his uncle and aunt and began to slowly straighten is life out. He had quit drinking and making trouble and had begun to work in the construction trade. He had been to church a few times before and one of the brothers here pushed him to go on the retreat. Little did Nelson know what God would do in his life over those 2 days. Hearing the word and being convicted by it, Nelson put on Christ in baptism and then reconciled himself to his common-law wife. Yulissa, moved by Nelson's life changing decision started studying the Bible with one of the brothers here.
This past Saturday afternoon I was up at the church with Jóse Batres getting the teen room ready for class that night. While we were rearranging the room we heard voices coming up the stairs. As we walked towards the stairs to see whom it was, we were greeted by Yulissa and Nelson's Aunt. God was going to redeem her too. Aristedes would arrive in a few minutes to take Yulissa's confession of faith and we would have the privilege of watching Yulissa become our sister in Christ.
God has the power to redeem, not only people but marriages as well. Nelson and Yulissa also want to get legally married and will be as soon as their paperwork gets approved. Not only have they changed the course of their lives but in a country ravaged by absentee fathers and single mother homes they have changed the life of their son Nelson Gustavo. He will now have the far too uncommon privilege of growing up in a two parent Christian home.
I'm sure that God is not done with Nelson and Yulissa and I can't wait to see the rest of their story.