Devotion by Abduction

I believe in devotion.  My God has been devoted to me.  He has been devoted to my church – “Devoted” as in “faithful to a fault.” 


I believe in being comparably devoted.  God is worthy of men, women and children who devote their lives to Him, who are devoted to His people and His kingdom.  Churches need pastors and congregants/parishioners who are so devoted.


Most of us will remember having a teacher who was devoted to his or her class of students.  We knew that our teacher had our best interests at heart and was so motivated as to help us to learn and to grow.


Church-goers should have a comparable experience with their ministers or priests.  There is a phrase that makes the rounds within Protestant-Evangelical circles:  It speaks of a “pastor’s heart,” which is nothing more and nothing less than the love of Jesus on the part of the pastor for the people entrusted to one’s spiritual care.


I have often taken comfort on the fact that, though I can’t manufacture impressive ministerial “programs” for my flock, I can truly say that my love for my congregation more than holds its own.  I trust that, by God’s grace, my flock knows, if not my perfections (they would be hard-pressed to find them!), then certainly my love for them – May it be the love of Jesus!


Still; the devotion that I encountered by a pastoral colleague out of Mexico was positively “other-worldly,” in the best possible terms!  I refer to Pastor Jose, a man I literally have just met, and I am so honored to share his story with you.


Pastor Jose was born and raised in Vera Cruz, Mexico.  He was nurtured in the streets and in bar-rooms.  He knew nothing of Jesus or His Gospel.  Our Lord and Savior quite literally made Himself known to him, and he has been a devoted follower ever since. 


He currently works to help Christians pass over the border, as it can be an exceedingly dangerous course of travel.  He works through the proper administrative channels to help automobiles and individuals make the crossing.  He shares the Gospel with each and everyone.  How little did he know that he would be an expression of the Gospel before a leading drug cartel!


One such crossing put him in a terrible crossfire.  Guns were found to be in the under-carriage of one car.  He was directed to the police station to make a statement.  He was then brutally abducted, with his head being hooded, and he was taken to a “safe-house” of the cartel.  The cartel knew, sensibly, that he was innocent, but they wanted him to give them the name, phone number and whereabouts of the people being helped by Pastor Jose.  My new friend was well aware that the cartel intended to do some killing, whether his clients or the Pastor himself and his family.


It is an interesting thing with these drug cartels in Mexico.  They don’t really want to hurt pastors, having as they do an odd but inherent respect for men of God.  They ultimately let Pastor Jose go, asking his as they did that he pray for them – Indeed; one of the guards quite humanely assured the pastor that he would look after him!


What went through Pastor Jose’s mind while in captivity?  “Lord; if they kill me, I only ask that you allow my family to able to retrieve my body so that they can have closure by way of burial.”  Can you imagine?  The bodies of the cartel’s victims are rarely ever found.  But Pastor Jose’s heart for his family and devotion to his Lord could not be hidden or obscured in any conceivable way!


He never asked us for anything.  He was simply grateful to be on the receiving end of the love of Jesus.  The love of Jesus will always be more than enough, for permeating His love is the answer to all of our problems, the provision for all of our needs, and the ticket of transport for where Pastor Jose and all who share a comparable devotion wish to direct people (including repentant members of the drug cartels!) – Jesus Christ, the Savior of His people and the Lord of the cosmos. 


Praise Him!


Bradley E. Lacey

Pastor, First Baptist Church at Conshohocken

Host, The Great Message (WPHT Talk Radio 1210, Saturdays from 5-6am)