Pastor Sebastián is my kind of pastor. Stout and strong, with a perpetual smile on his face, he greets us on Sunday morning as we arrive at his Presbyterian church, tucked away in the tiny village of Ruíz Cortines, Chiapas, Mexico. The congregation is one of seven he pastors throughout the nearby villages, some of which have buildings, others of which meet under the shade of a tree.
Sebastián speaks Spanish and the local Mayan dialect, Chol. He maintains big dreams about the roles his churches can play in their communities as medicine dispensaries, safe havens for children, and places of Christian spiritual transformation. His energy is contagious as he introduces us to various church members. The service would be long, loud, and passionate. Brunch would follow, complete with live music- the perfect start to our week in Mexico.
In the coming days, we would work with Sebastián at this church and another, painting and shoveling gravel into the foundation of a new building. Members of Sebastián’s congregations would take a day off from their work in the fields to labor alongside us. Walls of communication would break down as music, laughter, and elbow grease erased our differences and bound us together in God’s love.
But the week wouldn’t be all heavy lifting. Chiapas is a lush, mountainous region full of rivers, and each day after work, we would swim in a pool beneath waterfalls. Our hosts, Salvador and Irma de la Torre, served us delightful,
delicious meals for breakfast and dinner each night. We would take in just as many calories as we burned with our feet to the plow!