Shivering slightly, she stood at the front of the line of eager faces, hand in hand with a perfect stranger. What gave this quiet young woman the courage to enter a tent marked “Carpa del Destino” with someone she had never met, to pray and to listen for the voice of God? Was it curiosity? Desperation? The compelling play we had both watched, or the meaningful songs that followed?
It was November 6th, the last weekend of the International Festival of Cervantino and we were nearing the end of our second day of sharing God’s love and the gospel literature sponsored by Activated Ministries to the interested travelers from numerous countries around the globe. Musicians and actors from Mexico, Europe and the US volunteered their talent so that inspiring stage performances attracted crowds from six in the evening till nearly midnight at the San Fernando plaza in Guanajuato, Mexico.
Nearly 100 volunteers had come together from various backgrounds including ministry workers, students, and many others, for the last weekend of the Festival. In common was our motivation; the love of Christ compelling us to share our happiness with our fellowman. As it turned out, I am certain I received far more then I gave.
Her name was Denise and she looked like so many others in the crowd surrounding our stage – like she was looking for something, like she had traveled all the way to Guanajuato hoping to find it. To find something new. To discover herself, her purpose, her God.
Our eyes were glued to the stage, where the actors were being manipulated by a puppet master, and there was a great struggle between light and darkness. By the end of the play there were answers, and new questions. And so she hurried over to the white tent, to search some more. Denise was one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, who passed by that plaza with a bored walk and vacant eyes, and left with an experience that will last a lifetime.
I don’t know what led her. All I know is that I too was led to Project Descubrete at Cervantino 2010, and I know who led me. I too was drawn to the white tent in the corner of the plaza, and as Denise and I huddled together on the floor, holding hands and seeking as one, the Holy Spirit was tangible. God spoke to us. He answered her questions and He filled us with peace. We both left that tent moved emotionally, and strengthened spiritually.
There was a table to the right of the plaza, stacked high with books titled “Con carino para ti,” tracts asking, “Que es la verdad?” magazines, and much more. The hushed crowd that surrounded the table was awash with gratitude. Windy Farr, who gave out many of the 380 gift books, commented on the enthusiastic response. “People were shocked. ‘Really? This is for me?’ many would say after receiving the book with the explanation that this was a gift for them with messages from Jesus. Some asked, ‘Are you sure it’s for free?’ Many were moved to tears.”
In the distance, and spread throughout the city were groups of “Descubrete” clad volunteers holding “Abrazos Gratis” (“Free Hugs”) signs, smiling ear to ear, hugging complete strangers, laughing and answering questions. The reactions of passerby ranged from curios, hesitant, cynical and bewildered to enthusiastic, grateful, visibly touched, and ecstatic! Often a transformation was apparent within the first hug. Sometimes it took a few hugs. There were people who left chuckling, others with a grateful tear, and yet others who joined in the hugging or started giving free hugs of their own.
“Why are you doing this?” was the most heard question. One volunteer answered, “We hope that in this small way we can demonstrate the love that we all are looking for—the love every human being needs to feel—love that can only come from God.”
That reminds me of one woman, who when asked what she came away with, said simply, “Love. It was the most prominent thing of the whole experience. I got my answer through this message: the love of man will fail, but God’s love never fails.’”
Today I read through scores of comments from visitors to the Festival who wrote their impressions of this event. Here is just a sampling:
“I think I found what I was looking for! Thank you for being conductors of God’s messages!”
“It was a great experience for me because I had stopped talking with God many years ago, and in the last few months I have considered talking with him again. But he came tome! Now I know for sure that I want to continue communicating with him!
“I felt liberated, listened to, and at peace with myself.”
“I had reconciliation with Jesus. I knew he was there to listen to me every time I needed him, but sometimes I resist that. I learned that it doesn’t matter how much I have failed, how much I have distanced myself from him or for how long, because he is always with me. He wants to talk to me! All I have to do is stay still and listen. I am never alone. He is always there for me, to listen and take care of me, and fill me with blessings. Thank you with all my heart. You have directed me to my way.”
“I had moved away from God, but he never moved away from me.”
“It fascinated me. Excellent spiritual encounter with my soul and Jesus. What a breath of fresh air and hope it is to be closer to the Lord!”
“Thank you God! You made me feel alive again and made me remember that you love me and that everything is thanks to you. It was wonderful! Very beautiful!”
“This experience helped me make the decision to make Jesus one of my main priorities again.”
“I never thought I would find Jesus in person, but today I met him, I learned that he loves me and that he is always with me.”
“Completely different for sure! I never expected it. They gave me a message I never thought I would receive. I’m not exactly a great fan of God, but this has made me reflect on something I don’t usually think about: Jesus help and love for me.”
“I felt such liberation! Like an enormous weight was pulled off my shoulders. Incredible!”
“It was a full and complete connection with God. I felt the message of the Creator himself through the person that took my hands, making a connection with me and telling me his words. I was elevated to another dimension. Thank you God.”
Through which ever medium—a hug, a song, a play, a prayer, a book or a tract, I know that only God’s word could have had this kind of influence on these and the hundreds more we personally witnessed to.
Our heartfelt thanks goes out to Activated Ministries, who provided so much more then sponsorship for literature, who rather have set in motion a far reaching chain of events: God’s spirit working in the hearts and lives of many more then any of us can know! Of those we do know of, close to 1,000 souls were won to Christ over this weekend and are beginning the rewarding journey of a life lived with him! I don’t doubt that each one will in turn cause a ripple effect amongst family, friends and associates, influencing thousands more.