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Tyler Morning Telegraph - Galdámez brings church planting, education experience to Grace Español

Here are two articles written by Emily Guevara ( Twitter: @TMTEmily)  on our background and on  Grace Español .   Tyler Morning Telegraph...

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Pain of Death in the Death of Christ

Yesterday as I was coming home from the dentist, the pain I had experienced when she cleansed my tooth and caused me to shed a few tears made me realize how little I know pain. I consider myself a wimp when it comes to pain.

Then I was reminded of the pain of death, not my death, but Christ's death. His death was a painful death (see Isaiah 53 below). Painful on so many levels:

Physically he was disfigured from all the beatings he took. Up to the moment of his last breath, he faced death valiantly. This was unjust, but he willingly allowed this (he could have annihilated humanity in a second - see a glimpse here) for our behalf.

Emotionally it was also painful. At the garden, he prayed that he was willing to face death and said, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42) Tears fell from his eyes, as if they were tears of blood. He marched to his death for us.

Spiritually, he experienced what none of us will ever or can ever experience. At the moment of death he called out: "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachtani" Aramaic words that in our Bible were left transliterated perhaps to show us how painful it was. "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me." What happened here is speculated by many Theologians. But in Jesus's words there was a separation from the Father. Christ, the second person of the Godhead experiencing spiritual separation from God the Father.

We know that the painful death was not the end here. On the third day he rose from the dead. Death could not keep Him. His mission was accomplished.

Why did he willingly suffer so much to the point of death?

So that we can have a relationship with God. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (1 Peter 3:18-NIV)

To take the punishment of our sins, rescue us (from our sins) and give us new life (to live the right way). "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." (1 Peter 1:18-21-NIV)

"They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls." (1 Peter 2:21-25, The Message)



Isaiah 53 gives a good description of Christ's pain and suffering:

53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors - KJV




Saturday, March 23, 2013

No Cinderella Story: A Tribute to Espi my Mother-in-Law

Espi circa 30's
Another woman that I am thankful for, beside my mother and my wife,  is my mother-in-law. She is the mother of the best part of my life, my wife. Much of what I know about her has been shared by her to me or to both my wife and I together. My wife has also shared much of her story. It is an amazing story. It isn't a Cinderella story. It is a story of suffering. Of triumph over difficulties. Of forgiveness.

Esperanza (Espi for short) was born in La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico and grew up in a small town named San Gregorio Michoacán.  I had the privilege of traveling there many years ago and saw the place she grew up, where painful memories where forged upon her. Her father was still alive, a tall gentle man with fair skin, and color eyes who called me "handsome." Espi's mother's died when she was two years old and left a newborn girl. The baby girl died a month later. She also had a brother two years older (he accidentally poisoned himself and died as an adult). Her father Chano married a woman who resembles the evil step-mother of Cinderella, but perhaps she was worse.  Her step-mother was abusive. She treated her with contempt and made her do all the chores. At the very delicate age of seven she was cooking, washing clothes by hand and taking care of the house while her step-mother enjoyed the comforts of life.  On one occasion she burned herself cooking but no one took care of her.  Another time she was chopping squash to feed the hogs and she cut her left thumb which was barely hanging on. She wrapped it with a piece of cloth and continued working. To this day her deformed left thumb is a painful memory of her past. Espi was humiliated, mistreated and had no way out. She didn't go to school and so she grew illiterate not out of her choosing but because her step-mother wanted her to do all the chores.  Her half-sisters and brothers did go to school. Her half sisters and brothers weren't kind to her either.
Espi's family, she is in the back next to her son.

But Espi grew up. She waited for her prince to come. She eventually met a man who she would marry. A man who would not treat her any better. He often went on escapades and adventures, would send some money, but never enough to raise four boys and four girls.  They often went hungry and at times only ate tortillas with salt. During cold nights, coats were used to cover their bodies as they did not have enough blankets to cover them all. Some of her children, including my wife, had to start working at an early age (my wife started working at the age of 13) to bring income to the family. Espi's husband demands never diminished. He often asked to be bathed by her and demanded respect from the children as he himself mistreated them as well.  But Espi had no way out. She had no formal education, no formal work, even though she did work at home cross stitching, washing, ironing people's laundry while still caring for eight children. There were many nights she worried about her kids. Add to all of this, the fact that she suffered from a genetic condition that did not help her. I am not at liberty to discuss what it is for this has affected her self-esteem more than anything. That should say enough.
Crescenciano "Chano" as I met him

In spite of this, Espi sent her eight children to school, educated them by teaching them good manners and raised them.  Almost all of them pursued formal careers, some like my wife who is a nurse, are still active in them.  In the late 80's my wife, the second born, came to the United States seeking the streets where dollars were found (this was literally told to her). To her disappointment, it wasn't as it was told to her. A determined woman as she is (Her story will be told someday as well), she worked hard to bring her mom to the United States. She did, not only her, but all of her siblings who now live here as well. Espi's life has changed. She lives a better life now. It hasn't been easy either and it doesn't end with "she lived happily ever after."  Yet, her story which hasn't been told, something that she would hate to do, has inspired me and taught me so much. Let me share some of those things I admire and continue to learn from her.

Relentless.  She never gave up. There were many sleepless nights for her. Lonely nights. Nights of weeping but she never let go of what she valued: her children and God.  They carried her forward. She also learned how to read and write on her own.

Love.  She loves her children. All of them. I often admire how they show affection to each other even as all of them are now passed their 40's.  They all love their mom as well.

Forgiveness. If anyone has a "right" to be bitter at life or at people it is Espi. Yet, she has never done so. She has a forgiving heart.  I mentioned the time that we went to the town she grew up. Her step-mother was also there. My mother-in-law did not treat her the way she had been treated by her. It blew me away when she actually gave her money.  She forgave her for all her wrong doings. She forgave her husband as well. I have never heard her saying anything that would show her angry or bitter. I know she forgave them.

Selflessness. If there is anyone who has been more caring and giving it is Espi. Even as she is passed her 70's she, as the matriarch of the family, helps her children. It is much more difficult now as many physical ailments that are perhaps the result of her hard life are affecting her (in fact, today she had surgery in her back to fix a pinching cyst that was causing her so much pain).

Thankfulness. She is very thankful to God for how He was watched over her and her children. When she begins to complain, she often corrects herself and realizes that she has more to be thankful than not and that there are those who are less fortunate than her.

Usefulness.   As Espi has aged, and her body fails to be as strong as she was, it keeps her from what she calls being "useful".  She does not value idleness. To be useful is to remain alive for her. And so as she ages, this will be her struggle.

But she can rest assured that she has left a legacy that no one can take from her. Something she has no care for. All she desires is for her children to live successfully and peacefully. She desires a place to call home. A place where she can tender her garden, serve her family and continue to be useful. A place to enjoy what God in his mercy has allowed her to have even if it doesn't end "happily ever after."

Yes, Espi, your story is real not a fairy tale. Yet, paradoxically, it is better than a fairy tale.  It will live in the hearts of your children and those of us who have heard it. You have given us this honor.

A far better place awaits you. I know. Certainly I know!

Monday, March 11, 2013

I needed a father

Today my father died. Even though he abandoned us when we were children he is the man God chose to bring me to life. I have never written about it anywhere but I have always thought about the role of fathers and dads in their children.  I have also done a bit of reading about the role of father's in children's lives. The conclusion is indisputable (see this here and here). Fathers are important in the lives of their children. I guess that given the choice of a not so good father and a father, I would have chosen to have one. It was not granted to me. I do not hold any anger or resentment nor do I judge the man who God chose to grant me life. He is certainly giving account to God now (Hebrews 9:27). I am thankful I live and that God has blessed me with the gift of knowing Him.  It has always been very puzzling and disturbing though, how men can walk away from children they willingly conceive and never turn back. I have yet to understand this.

Growing up without a father was not easy. Living with women (seven and my mom) was not easy. I had no one to look up to. I had no concept what a man should be. I was insecure. I needed a father. Up to the age of 13, I had no male role models, none, not even granddads.  It was when I joined a church at the age of 13 that God put male role models in my life. The two youth leaders and my youth pastor became my role models. They weren't perfect at all, yet God used them to shape me as a man. And yet, I still needed a father.

At the age of 21 I became a father myself. I had studied books and had an idea of what a father should be, yet experience taught me I really wasn't as prepared as I thought I was. I needed a father. I wasn't really good with my hands as well (even now), I was no handyman, I needed a father.

As I look at my 20 year old son and see how much he is like me makes me glad (and the fact he still calls me "Daddy."). Not because I am perfect or because I feel I did so well as a father, but because I know he has a father. He has a role model. He knows what a man should be.  He has a point of reference for the day when he becomes a father himself. Yes, I took my role as a father seriously. It is my duty as a Christian.

Even now after all this time, today, when I heard my father had died, I thought how much I needed him.

I needed a father.