The joy of helping our neighbors

by Malcolm Callister

My wife Linda and I recently joined Pastor Guillermo Banuet, Martin Thorner, and members of Iglesia Presbiteriana del Lago (our Spanish-language congregation) as they ministered to the inmates of the Mezcala rehab center and delivered despensas to needy members of the community.

We were pleased to experience all the fun and energy of the worship service at the rehab center. For the men, women, and teenagers who went, it was a wonderful testimony to their faith in Christ. The look on their faces of the inmates and their body language when they listened told of their regrets they had and their hope in Christ for their future. While the rehab center is not a prison, nobody is allowed to go home until their treatment is completed. Christ told us to remember the prisoners.

The food sent from Lakeside Presbyterian Church kitchen was eagerly anticipated and eaten with obvious enthusiasm. The kitchen staff from our church and the local Baptist church who prepared the food truly are serving Christ as he commanded.

The delivery of the despensas was an emotional shock. Having worshipped in English, Canadian and USA churches, outreach to this level of poverty and despair is something that we would expect on a mission trip to some far off country, not a 30-minute drive down the road from our own house. The experience was deeply moving. The three women we met each lived in conditions that are difficult for me to contemplate, but I would not replace the experience for anything. We will always remember . . .

  • The blind lady who had tears as she held Linda for a long hug.
  • The diabetic lady in a wheelchair with no feet and her diabetic husband, who was now blind and would no longer get out of bed.
  • The 93-year-old with nothing, living in an old adobe brick box with plastic bags to provide privacy for her outdoor washroom. This lady was in tears when we started to leave because she had nothing to give to us. As Linda tore herself away from the lady’s arms, the hugs and kisses, we recognized that she gave us God’s blessing..

If you are interested in accompanying future visits to Mezcala, I highly recommend it. You can talk to Pastor Guillermo about going. Members of our English-language community need this experience. Our mission field is on our doorstep and we rarely see it.


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