Life On A Mexican Ranch1 Valued Friends and Encouragers From Afar
by Jason Fusek
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For two years I worked at an orphanage and church planting ministry in Tijuana, Mexico. The days were long and my experience was a very lonely one, made more difficult by leaders who were very demanding and, despite proclaiming the Gospel and establishing churches, lacked a balanced understanding and healthy practice of godlinesss in their lives. This affected the entire ministry as well as my own personal experience since I worked hand-in-hand with the Director.
During this two year period I was in much need of encouragement to keep on heeding the Lord's call to serve in the midst of all the difficulty (within and without) that I faced. Every person working in ministry as a vocation loves people that support them and encourage them and I greatly value those who met this need. Most people, I hope, are lucky enough to have someone that supports them, is a friend to them, listens to God and shares what they hear, and just encourages them without asking for anything in return. For me those people were friends from my home church back in California, my dad, and some of my relatives.
Amongst everyone there was one friend, an old lady – old in age and the faith, that stood out among the rest. Her name is Adelle Allen. Let me tell you about her.
One look and you had no doubts of her age. But look into her eyes and you saw Life. She had the Life of Jesus in her and carried it with the meekness and humility of a child. Every church experience and reading of the Bible was a new chance to learn something about God and to become more invested in the faith that she had come to love. She was simple and sweet and kind and caring, just like a good grandmother should be.
She had been in my church much longer than I, something like 30 years (when I went to Mexico I had been at our church for about 5 years). She joined back when the church first opened it’s doors in the “new building” which we still met in – an old school, the first in Moraga back in the very late 1960’s. Even so she had not grown that much as a Christian.
After a new Pastor came to the church and began introducing the congregation to the Holy Spirit and emphasizing spiritual growth in more ways than reading and studying the Bible, Adele just took off. She was like a young shoot planted in deep rich soil. I watched her mature into a beautiful elderly woman who loved to pray and encourage others and support pastors, leaders, and missionaries by writing letters.
God put it on her heart to support me in this way and it proved to be one of my greatest sources of encouragement. She wrote about once a month, sometimes more often. She prayed about what I would share in my newsletters and personal letters to her. The most important thing she did was pray for me; the second most important thing was that she listened to God for things I needed to hear and then shared them. That I had someone who was willing to do this was a treasure that I valued and appreciated greatly.
The excerpts I share are from letters written primarily during my first year, which was very tough to say the least. My friends comforted me and were the “encouragers of God” I needed. Sharing excerpts from their letters is one way I honor them and say, “Thank you, friends (especially Adele), for your faithfulness, friendship and selfless encouragement. You didn’t receive much honor in doing this, but God saw the little cups of water you were giving me and your reward is waiting for you.”
September 1, 2000 – I got your postcard and it sounds like you’re settling in ok and feeling the Lord’s movement over there. You are definitely in my prayers. Hope you’re getting used to the food and water. May the Lord bless you and protect you – you are very much loved – Your sister in Christ, Linda.
September 12, 2000 – How are you? Are you still working in the office area at ____? How are you liking it? I suppose as with me – you find yourself alone more than you used to – are you able to really pursue the Lord? The generators go off at 10pm right? Do you read by candle and flashlight after that, or are the days so long you just “Hit the sack”? Kent and I look forward to hearing what God’s doing in your life via letter or your next newsletter – Blessings to you Jason, Deb.
October 9, 2000 – How are things going in Mexico? I bet you’re learning a lot. I heard from Pastor Arthur that you have more free time than you thought. That’s’ great time to pray, meditate and read. I wish I had more free time these days! I also miss the Monday night prayer meetings. The prayer times you led really encouraged me – Your friend, Noreen.
October 16, 2000 – I have put off writing to you far too long. Are you in close touch with people from our church as you anticipated when you left? I’m aware of how important it is to hear from the home church so as not to feel forgotten. There are so many praise items – your final settling into an apartment with two brothers to disciple, your regular salary starting immediately, finding fellowship (mindful that you need prayer and discernment for any un-Biblical teaching) and for being able to see some of Mexico. I am glad you are honoring the Lord by taking a day off a week. Too often this is neglected with pastors and missionaries – it is a discipline. I pray especially for your working with the Director. What is God teaching you? Also about budgeting your time. Even at my age it is a consistent problem. We are weighed down with stuff that has to be cared for and then there is the ever present entertainment distractions. “But Lord don’t I deserve to have a little time off just for myself?” He speaks to me quite clearly that it is a battle I often lose by turning my hearing off – With love in the Beloved, Adele.
November 15, 2000 – Hey guy, how are you? How is Imma? How is your work with Christ? Yes, we are very disappointed that you cannot come home for Thanksgiving. But we understand! Just a word: hang in there and do the work that God has called you there for. I know it is right! You are very special and always will be. Also, I am sending a gift for your work. Please use it as you need best – Love you! Dad.
December 4, 2000 – Your “Just A Fusekonds” letter with many pictures gives me a clearer picture of your life. I looked at the bus with the black stripe and wonder if you have air conditioning. It looks like the Greyhound one does. I am an animal lover – we have a black lab so I’m delighted you have Imma. A dog is always overjoyed to see you and please you. After your first letter one of the items I’d written in my notebook was time – wisely budget it. Now in this letter, it is keep time for rest and relaxation. And you went to a movie! I’m so glad you have this balance in your life and pray you will continue to do so. God never intended for us to be all work – it leads to burnout and loss of His joy. I wish I could quote a verse – there must be one in Proverbs. Why are Christians so lax in keeping their commitments? It is in all areas right down to not paying money owed on time. I am most sorry to hear your disappointment with people. Mary, my younger daughter, went to Chicago years ago to work for a Christian organization that sent teams overseas. She too had not anticipated problems for, after all, they were all Christians. She was not a strong enough Christian to weather the year there. She came back totally disillusioned, especially with her boss. She came home, got a job at UCB – the old story of secretary and boss falling in love and they got married. Mary has made some attempts to go back to church but never has. I encourage you strongly to continue to be honest and transparent – oh that I might take my mask off and be vulnerable. When I do I come away wishing I hadn’t, just plain old pride rearing its head. This morning as I prayed and I asked the Lord to tell me who to write to and you were the one so I simply must let go and say the words written in trust that I have something to say to you. I look forward to seeing you during the holidays. Philippians 1:6 “…being confident in this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” – Love in the Beloved, Adele.
Christmas 2000 – Jason, thank you for all you’ve done for the church and congregation. May God’s light continue to shine through you. May He continue to bless you as you have been a blessing to others – Love in Christ, Karen and LWCC.
January 30, 2001 – I’ve just finished praying and before I do one more thing I must drop you this note. Ever since your letter I’ve been picturing in my mind the orphanage as a work place. I do not know how clear my picture is. As I put that aside, the Holy Spirit started speaking to me, a few times and then very frequently throughout the day: Jason through his guitar will be used to bring the workers together in love, concern and in outreach to each other. The mighty wind of the Spirit will sweep through ____ this is in answer to your prayer “Openness to the ways God wants me to be involved in the community.” The start may be slow and thus discouraging but I believe it will come! I know it will come. I do not believe I have the gift of faith but on the occasions that the Spirit speaks to me and then continues to speak to me I do have the faith to know it will come to pass. May God continue to bless you and use you mightily – Love, Adele.
February 23, 2001 – Thank you for your letter opening your heart to me, a gift of God to me. It brought encouragement, excitement to see the provisions God has given you – the Vineyard Church, Jeanette, His prompting to take every need first to Him, and the small group together to share a meal you have prepared. Through your letter the Holy Spirit points out areas in my life that are not right or need working on. From your letter I know you do not remember my asking you if you would like me to send on the announcements. You said a definite “No,” that you had friends who would keep you in touch with what was going on. I assume email is flying your way with those people daily praying for you and writing encouragingly. All through the years when we were ____, when someone left to me it seemed “out of sight, out of mind.” They simply disappeared and so now that I am on the Assimilation team I’ve asked for the attendance sheet and those that are not there I send announcements and the sermon outline. The picture of life at ____ is coming more into focus. What is needed is the wind of the Holy Spirit to flow through with the ferocity of the Santa Ana winds. I think your small group getting together was a start. You write of other fellowship groups in the past that have gone bad and turned into places of dissension. I pray against any fear you may have in this regard. I pray daily for your small group – for protections from attack, to be strong in the Lord at all times. Big doors swing on small hinges. What the Lord keeps reminding me is how long it is taking for Pastor Arthur’s vision for our church to progress. Years have gone by with great strides forward, stops, and even slippage but we have turned around and gone forward and at this time are gaining momentum. The dire financial situation was a shot in the arm we needed to get more serious. Still we have a long way to go to get out of our comfort zone. Hebrews 10:36 “You need to be patient and to do the will of God and receive what He promises.” To have a friend like Jeanette to be transparent with is truly a blessing. I pray for a guard to be put around this relationship. People are so vulnerable to being hurt or disappointed, especially with the opposite sex. Boy, did the Lord bong me over the head with your statement that you go to Him first with your need – not many do that. Well, I don’t and I’m determined to practice doing it in every small problem. Then I’ll be ready for the big ones. I can say, though, I come to the point of thankfulness for the problem – through it I know He is working in me to will and do His good pleasure. Yes, I do know you have been put on a pedestal for I always see you just the way you said – always willing to worship and pray and serve, that you are humble and joyful. Now you are in a place with all new people and being shunned, if that is the right word, for your transparency. I sense a certain amount of insecurity in not being accepted as the person you are. I feel the old self in me, too, trying to live up to the image I’ve projected. To be humble is a daily prayer for myself – trying to be a faith healer brought me way down at least temporarily and I thank God for that. Next letter I want to tell you about the most remarkable changes that have come into my life in a short month. Age has nothing to do with growing and changing. Life continues to be exciting and filled with joy for each and every day I see the hand of God blessing me, leading me and preparing me for the future days here on earth. I say thank you Lord that wherever I am You have gone ahead and prepared it for me and so receive it as His gift for that time or moment. Just bloom where you are because where you are is where God has put you for His specific purpose – Love, Adele.
March 2001 – It was great to hear from you, it sounds as if the Lord is continuing to move and improve in your life! I’m really glad to hear that things seem to be on a more positive note. Thank you for your prayers and kind words regarding our location to the Bay Area. The Lord has been faithful and responsive to all the prayers of the saints because the move and transition has been seamless and with little to no snags or stresses. You are certainly welcome to come back – and we would love to see that happen – to contribute and help with the ministry, but I am also aware that the Lord has a you on a path that must be completed first. I am supremely confident that if and when the time is right we will both be in agreement. It sounds as if the Lord is really doing a purifying work with you there in Mexico along with important ministry contributions, that’s something you wouldn’t want to disrupt or interrupt – Blessings, John.
March 5, 2001 – In a book “Praying Character into Your Child,” the topic for today was contentment. One of the verses was Philippians 4:11-13 and I had underlined “learned” in it – a reminder for both of us. “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know hot to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of CONTENTMENT in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want, for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me strength and power.” It is a reminder, is it not, that contentment isn’t a gift but it is to be learned. For me everything hinges on having a thankful heart for all God has provided, is providing and will provide in the future. I do not mean just physical but more importantly the spiritual blessing and His very presence with me – Now may God bless you, Adele.
March 26, 2001 – Your monthly letter brought new glimpses of your life at the orphanage. Praise God for Pablo – he had been just a name in your letters before and now I know you have a roommate who truly has a heart for the Lord in speech and actions. Fear of failure – how it holds so many of us back from advancing the Kingdom of God. I dip my toe in but lack of faith to just plunge in. I still have twinges of embarrassment when I think of what a spectacle I made of myself when I attempted prayer publicly in healing Chris and that I know if I had not tried there would not be this burning desire to learn about his gift of the Spirit. So I think of the Spirit using you in San Francisco to bring that poor suicidal man to repentance at zero hour. It is but a stepping stone. Your obedience is this means the Lord will bring you more opportunities and challenges and that is what makes life exciting. Not to fear and get stuck in one spot. On March 12, I wrote on one of the pages I have for you the following: “Endurance is the capacity to bear up under difficult – unpleasant, painful, stressful – circumstances in a Christ-like manner. ‘Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.’” That was from my reading that morning of “In Touch” by Charles Stanley. I believe this – endurance – to be a big prayer need at the orphanage for you – God bless you, In the Beloved, Adele.
April 2001 – Jason, we’re glad you decided to stick it out at ____ for the rest of the year. Even if it doesn’t seem you’re using your gifts, maybe God’s helping you develop others. Wherever you end up, you’ll be dealing with other people…
We think God is challenging you to serve in a “job” that you may not be crazy about. Your “ministry” helps many kids and ministers to them. I guess what we’re trying to say is that even if it seems that you’re pushing papers or running errands, God sees you as a minister in that sense. Just because you’re not leading worship or teaching, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love what you’re doing. As Kent and I talked, here’s what we’ve thought. Your desire to spread to others all that God has put in you is a beautiful quality. I’m sure it must have been difficult to go to Rancho expecting to work with ministry teams and then having your position change to one where you are not give the opportunity to impart wisdom in others. Yet, it is just as vital of a ministry. I’m sure whatever ministry you are in – missions or otherwise there will always be an aspect of “the job” that seems less intriguing or important. This time of struggle you are going through may prove to be the best training you have ever had – and in hindsight you will be able to look back and smile at what God taught you! I know that it may not seem the same, but Kent and I have really seen this year how God uses others to help us see ourselves in a new (more accurate) light. For us obviously it has been marriage that has helped us to see ourselves (mostly our weaknesses) as something to work on and to see each other’s weaknesses as God’s responsibility. When you believe God has put you in a ministry (in our case marriage) you have to trust God with other people’s weaknesses. Meaning rather than tying to help them change you ask God, “How can I grow and change through their weaknesses?” Then as they do the same both people benefit. The hard thing is letting God deal with the weaknesses in other people and concentrating only on our own. This can be especially difficult when you “expect” more. Be encouraged that as you continue to submit yourself through the good and bad to God that He will be faithful to work in the lives of those around you J. Most what we see – and we have prayed about it – is that you may be struggling with assuming God wants you to be a person who brings change in others (Christians). You see those “unwarranted” rebukes and conflicts with others as something you should address and help them to change. In actuality god rarely works that way. So sometimes what you consider as trying to help someone comes across to them as superiority and lack of compassion. [This is assumed from your writings about conflicts – especially with authority] God uses us by example when it comes to helping others grow in Christ. Again, Kent and I can see this so much more now through marriage. God calls us to pray, pray, and pray for those we struggle with and confronting others is usually reserved for direct disobedience to Scripture. As humans we try and “fix” others personality and habit differences – things that are not really defiant to Scripture – they’re just falling short of Jesus’ “perfection.” We encourage you to really consider strongly how you interact with others. Pray for them a lot, encourage them in their strengths a lot, and sit on your hands when their personality and way of doing things doesn’t seem right to you. Kent and I have really been practicing that advice – we practice what we preach J. As much as you can, take time to truly submit to their authority and pledge to learn as much as you can from them even though you may not connect there as easily as you expect to. It comes down to having the true humility of Christ – which as Ken and I are realizing is very, very hard. Jesus encouraged, loved, had compassion, etc. to people who treated him with disgust. He never “fought back” or tried to explain himself when he was misunderstood. He simply worried about pleasing the Father and living perfectly. Although we can’t live perfectly we can be the best example of Christ’s humility as possible by continually finding ways to love and serve our brother and sisters in Christ even when we feel it’s not returned. We really think God wants to give you the opportunity to grow by loving and serving more than you though possible to other believers (which is much harder than to the unsaved). You have such a heart for God – knowledge for His Word, great desire for prayer and worship. Now let Him give you that same heart for Believers at ____. Love them, serve them, pray for them, encourage them! You will be blessed by the change in your heart – We’ll be praying for you!! Kent and Debbie.
April 20, 2001 – Dear Jason, you sound like you’re doing a great job! Keep up the great work. I have no doubt that you are very much pleasing the Heavenly Father. Go and do what you need to do (and are led to) – Love, Dad.
May 2001 – Jason, I wanted to share God’s providence with you. Less than a week after I prayed for you and felt the Lord was taking you through a period of learning to have compassion for other Christians who have faults (and I’d love to hear if you fell God was in that or if it was just me) I dealt with a very similar situation at work. A couple of the directors made some choices and did some things that were very clearly wrong to me – I really wanted to confront them, and had gotten to the point of sharing with Kent what I wanted to say. Then on the way to work the Lord one by one took the points I was concerned about and made me very aware that it was an issue in their lives but I was not the one to bring it to their attention. I was reminded of what I had written to you and realized that I just needed to love them all the more – and in this case trust God in how He was going to work in their lives. I was amazed at how much peace I had because I am the kind of person that feels strongly that sin in Christians needs to be lovingly pointed out. I just knew in this case it wasn’t me – I just needed to love them. It was really a totally new area for me.On the flip side I am in a situation right now giving advice/counsel to a friend who needs to confront a friend regarding a relationship. Ken and I have been praying for both women – and in the midst of that (I was explaining how a good friend will always speak the truth in love not pretending they don’t see a problem) Kent and I brought up you! Since I was writing, I told him I would pass it on to you. We were just reminding ourselves at your friendship and how you made sure to stay with Kent and question our relationship. We both appreciate so much that you were willing to make sure he was heading in God’s direction and not just up in the clouds. From both of us – we sincerely thank you for love and prayers for him. - Debbie and Kent
September 26, 2002 – My beloved Nephew, how are you? Always remember that you are in service for the Lord and that you can do all things through Him who gives you strength. I’ve been thinking a lot about being attacked in Faith, Hope and Love. These three, but the greatest 1Corinthians 13 says is LOVE. His joy will give you strength to handle the tasks at hand. Others will see your love and joy as they visit. You know why Labs are so great? Because they dish out love. And, they get hugged and caressed in return. Give somebody a hug everyday, even people from the church groups. Let them see Christ in you, Jason. You’ve got so much to offer. Love, a hug, and a holy kiss on the cheek (why let the Arabs have all the greeting talent) my Christian brother and nephew – Uncle Keith.
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Dear Jason, This is just what I wanted, and needed to hear this morning. Your sharing all those positive letters from 'family in the faith', and how you love to serve, pray, and help people. I love to hear what Chrisians ARE doing for each other - and there are many. I try and help those in need; those too that are not yet in the family of faith in Christ. You are definitly a wonderful writer too, and I enjoy your postings. Keep sharing! God bless you more and more! :) Love, a Grama in the Forest.