Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis 2, no. 2 (August 2011)

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Mexicans, Missionaries, Mandarin, and Memphis

Marisol Rosas

God has certainly blessed me by letting me witness the beauty of his church and the love and faithfulness it demonstrates in this world. The kingdom of God is full of cultural diversity and richness that reflects the power, beauty, compassion, and fun of living in the same Spirit for the shared goal of praising God. I first saw this through the work and love of American missionaries in my home congregation in Puebla, Mexico. From my first encounter with Christians, I saw how the love of Christ unites people from different races, cultures, and socio-economic statuses. In Mexico, there tend to be clashes between people of different economic backgrounds. However, I saw how God could bring together a poor single mother praying and growing with a white-collar professional that shares the same struggles and goal—to live for Christ. This purpose is what helped me understand why people would be willing to move to a different country and spread God’s news and love to strangers.

Eventually, I became a missionary too. I moved to China, where I continued witnessing the power of God and the splendor of his kingdom. One thing about China that I found to be very familiar to me is the importance of hospitality. Chinese people, like Mexicans, put a strong emphasis on cooking the best for their guests. Although what constitutes “the best” for one is sometimes another’s stomach nightmare, love and unity is what I saw the most. Turtle or very spicy fish were not my favorite things to eat, but they sure tasted good when the person preparing them was joyfully serving and loving me. Hospitality and food reminded me of a sister in Puebla who prays for her guests as she is cooking a meal (that normally takes 2 to 3 hours to make) for them.

Since returning to the States I’ve been incredibly blessed by living in Memphis, TN. Although Memphis certainly has a bad reputation because of its high levels of crime, I can assure you God is doing powerful things through his people in that city. For example, Chinese immigrants form the Sunday school class that I attend. They try to be a positive influence in Memphis, and continue being involved in spreading the Good News in China through various venues.

Another example of God’s people being humble, faithful vessels in Memphis is HopeWorks. This ministry aims to help the “chronically unemployed” learn how get and keep productive and responsible employment. The students of this program receive Bible, GED, and career development classes, individual and group counseling, internships, hope, and lots of love and support from people in the community that truly want the best for them. I began working in this ministry as a faith encourager, my involvement deepened, and now I’m part of the counseling staff. The servants in this ministry are wonderful examples in my life, and I treasure them with all my heart! Although I can testify to a lot of good things that they do in the name of God, I want to tell you more about a student there, who has become one of our brothers in Christ. He came from another state after being homeless for years. He couldn’t find a job because of his criminal record, and his depression worsened as time went by. One day he decided to search online—“jobs” and “felons”—and he found HopeWorks. Somehow, he was able to put the money together for a bus ticket and decided to get enrolled in the program. Once in Memphis, he walked several miles from the bus station to HopeWorks during a very hot summer day. If you have been in that area during the summer, you know what kind of weather I am talking about. To make a long story short, he was able to start the program, graduated with “best attendance record” (even though he was still living under bridges and in shelters), and eventually found a job that allowed him to serve others. Most importantly, he decided to live for Christ. Today, he is trying his best to spread God’s word and serve as many people as he can. He is a wise, humble, and hardworking man of God.

What do these Mexicans, missionaries, Chinese, and homeless people have in common? The answer includes: being willing to serve our Father; being a blessing to others in God’s name; being faithful and passionate; and being willing to learn from one another, work in unity (despite possible mistakes along the way), and reflect God’s love and presence in a huge variety of ways that only our Father can make possible. God’s children are a beautiful and powerful manifestation of His work and love.

Marisol Rosas is a full-time bilingual counselor working at The Exchange Club Family Center (a non-profit agency in Memphis, TN) and a part-time counselor at HopeWorks. She was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico, completed undergraduate studies at Harding University, was a missionary in China from 2004-2008, and recently graduated with an MA in Counseling from Harding School of Theology.