Thursday, March 01, 2007

Miracles in Copper Canyon - Part 3

Before I launch into the conclusion of our day at the rim, I'll give a little background information on the Tarahumara Indians that may help you to better understand our mission there. For some reason, these Indians, much like the Native Americans of the US, have been hated and mistreated for many years. No less than 20 years ago, the Tarahumara's were so despised by the Mexican people that the government actually had a bounty on their head. With a promise of being paid for every Tarahumara they killed, Mexicans hunted them down like dogs, and as a result, most fled to the remote mountain slopes of the Sierra Madres. What used to be a people group of millions, is now reduced to 70,000-100,000 - most of them still living far back in the mountains. The area we were in was one of the easier to get to, and it was still by far the most grueling driving and hiking I have ever experienced. Nine hours from the nearest town, Creel, many in Copper Canyon never know more than primitive mountain life.

17 years ago, Pastor Tomas received a burden from the Lord to help these people. With an infant mortality rate of 50%-75%, the Tarahumara's were fast becoming a disappearing people group. For 14 years his efforts among them seemed to bear no fruit. With the recent persecution, the people were terrified of him, and fled whenever he came. For 14 years he traveled back and forth from Juarez to the Copper Canyon bringing food and supplies. All he could do was leave them near the villages and turn around and head home. His faithfulness and diligence in persisting this God-given calling, amidst seemingly wasted effort, has been a tremendous challenge to me!

Three years ago, Pastor Tomas started seeing the fruit from his labors. The people were becoming more receptive, and soon some started coming to the Lord. There are now several families in the mountains that have accepted Jesus Christ, and many others who now give him a welcome reception. Yet, despite this progress, it is only the tip of the ice burg. Recently Pastor Tomas took a two-week trip back into the mountains. He takes those mountain slopes at an extremely fast pace, and even with that, he did not reach the end of the villages. The mountain ranges stretch for as far as your eye can see, and among them is nestled thousands of people, most who have never heard the Gospel even once. National Geographic recently did a trip farther back than Pastor Thomas had even been, and found tribes still living in the stone age. Living in caves, wearing next to nothing, and having never known a different life, they are a people crying out for the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Cannibalism is also rampant deeper in the mountains. This is Mexico! Only 12 hours drive from the border! It overwhelms me to realize that this is in the 3rd most evangelized country in the world. If such needs are present so close to us, what are the needs of those countries considered completely unreached?

With this knowledge burning in my heart, I entered the canyon realizing the awesomeness of what I was called to do. No, it wasn't a long trip, but God had sent me, and I was so excited to see what He was going to do!

Initially, we were planning on hiking into the canyon that afternoon, and getting to the village after dark that evening. We did not reach the rim until 4:00pm though, and it was quickly decided by those who had been there before that it was far too dangerous for us to proceed that evening. However, Pastor Tomas soon informed us that the cable car at the bottom of the canyon was broken. This car was needed to cross the 250 ft. river, and because of the recent snow, it was too high to cross any other way. After a bit of discussion, it was decided that six guys would hike to the river that evening so that they could be up at the crack of dawn to fix the car before the rest of us arrived. This was serious undertaking, as that spot in the river was practically the backyard of a known and feared local cannibal. Mountain lions were also rampant in the area, and with all this in consideration, two guys were always awake that whole night keeping watch. It was a tense night for all of them, and they were praising the Lord when morning came!

Five of the six guys ...


For the rest of us, we enjoyed a relaxing evening at Antonio's and Ramona's house - a Christian family on the rim. Homemade corn tortillas, chicken, a zucchini dish, hot chocolate and coffee made for a scrumptious supper! Laura and I got our first taste at cooking Mexican, and enjoyed learning from Brenda, the Mexican lady that joined us from the mission base in Juarez. Dark fell quickly on the canyon rim, and we all went to bed very early. I don't think one of us complained! Despite our excitement at the next days events, we were exhausted from the days travels, and were more than ready to call it a day!

Antonio and Ramona's House where we spent Sunday night.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

What an incredible experience that must've been! Wow.

And thank you for your recent comment on my blog -- don't ever feel like your rambling on! I really enjoy and even desire that more would share additional insights and thoughts! I was very blessed by yours -- thank you for sharing!

God bless you!