A few weeks ago, we were asked by our friends in Chumisa (the village that we have our monthly clinic in) to come to a party to celebrate the inauguration of the new clinic building. We knew this was going to be a big deal since the mayor from the main city that is over all the villages that make up the township of Joyabaj (including Chumisa) was going to be there as well. However, even knowing this, I was still surprised to hear the marimba music and the “bombas” (a sort of celebratory bomb that they use here to celebrate anything of importance) going off in the distance as we approached the village yesterday morning. We walked over the muddy trail that made up the end of the road we came in on and arrived at the small clearing that makes up this town’s “main square” to find people lined up along both sides of the road and all around the clinic building. The main attraction was definitely the stage which held the men that made up the band of marimba players, who appeared to have been entertaining the crowd with their playing for a few hours already. As we greeted and were greeted by both familiar and unfamiliar faces, we made our way to a few empty seats also facing the main stage, taking in the sights. Excitement was in the air, and a few men - who had already had way too much to drink - entertained everyone with their dancing as they swayed to the sound of the music. Others had cameras and video cameras ready (an odd sight to see in the middle of a mountainside out here), which they promptly turned on as the mayor arrived and the inauguration service began. The mayor gave a few words about the importance and blessing that the leaders there were for their community, Duane and Leslie both followed with a few words of appreciation for allowing us to partner with them and our desire to continue to do so, and the main leader in the village, Pedro, finished up with more words of appreciation for the partnership that has been established between us and them. This was then followed by a ceremonial cutting of the ribbon across the doors that led to the clinic rooms and then a meal to follow.
And overall, it was a fine party, but there was no denying the spiritual strongholds that still keep that area captive to darkness. From the cases of booze lined up along the road to the candles lit in honor of saints and gods that have provided for them, it was hard to miss the gaping hole that should have been Jesus.
These people have become very dear to our hearts over the years that we have worked there; the men are hard workers who advocate for and take care of their families and people, and the people are always grateful for anything that we offer them. But there is a spirit of bondage that is still very real there among the people, and as I have processed through it more in the time after we left, the well-known words of Isaiah 61 have come back to me… “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” (emphasis mine)
Oh, that we may never take for granted the amazing freedom we have been given… and may we never ever lose our burden to see the lost around us come to know that same freedom in their own lives.