When the box office hit “Superman” came out, it captured all of my 7-year-old imagination. Sitting in the darkness of Cinema 70, I watched Lois Lane scream for help. She couldn’t hold on much longer, and nobody knew what to do except the nerdy looking reporter in glasses. Running down a deserted alley, he ripped open his white buttoned-down shirt, and everyone saw the “S”—big, red and beautiful! The French horns started playing that familiar tune, and our hearts beat a little faster. Someone was getting rescued!
As a boy, my dream was to be Superman. I wanted to save people, but that’s changed.
Don’t get me wrong. Those French horns and that “S” still give me goosebumps. The only difference now is I’ve stopped trying to wear the cape. After 48 years of living, I’m realizing the real wonder isn’t in being the “rescuer.” That’s God’s job.
The real wonder is in being “rescued.”
And what better place to set the stage for a rescue than a small town like Boquillas, Mexico.
After all, God’s a fan of small things. That’s why sparrows, Zacchaeus, and mustard seeds fit so perfectly into the stories He creates. Some of God’s biggest moments happen in small places, so a group of us head down to Boquillas every spring to see what He’ll do next.
It’s always exciting to see how He shows up, but no rescues have left us with more jaw-dropping wonder than the rescues we watched Him do on our last trip.
Two nights into it, the team circled in the courtyard to pray. We were desperate for help. Deb was scheduled to talk to the teens, but the nerves and the questions weighed heavy. How would they respond to hearing about the cross? What would they do with a chance to publicly confess? There was so much unknown, so we bowed our heads, standing beside each other, and gave it all to God.
A few minutes later, the metal door to the courtyard creaked open. One after another, kids stepped through the doorway, making their slow, awkward approach toward the equally awkward people from Colorado Springs. We smiled at each other, trading “Holas” and nodding our heads — even when we didn’t understand each other.
Jorge greeted the group, and then Will played his guitar. The kids sang with passion and bright smiles, and in between a couple of the songs, they watched Jessica try one of the games. “Jessica! Jessica!” they chanted as she squatted over a lit candle. A bottle cap dangled from her waist, and the crowd gave her all the inspiration she needed to douse the flame. None of us could stop laughing.
Then, as the neighbors’ pigs settled down with their squealing in all that commotion, Deb stood behind a plastic table and talked about the cross. Viri stood next to her, translating. Using clear glasses from the table, she explained how Jesus used the cross to make us clean. “This is our sin,” she said, pointing to the glass with red food coloring. When she held up the glass representing Jesus, people leaned forward in their chairs. She poured the Jesus glass, full of bleach, into the glass representing our sin, and all that red water was suddenly clear. “That’s what Jesus did for us on the cross,” she said, setting down the glasses. Everyone smiled, nodding their heads.
She finished by talking about the healing God brings through confession. As Viri translated, I looked at the faces. Kids were really tracking. “Can everyone circle up their chairs?” she asked. We all got up, dragging chairs into a circle, and Deb finished her instructions. “Take a minute to think about what you might want to confess. If you’d like, you can confess it tonight.” The words hung in the air, and we waited. People sat in silence looking down at the ground, avoiding eye contact.
Finally, Victor stood up, his eyes glistening with tears. He talked about being new to town, desperate for acceptance; God was the farthest thing from his mind “until tonight” he said. He wept, and everyone stared in awe, but before he could sit down, four men approached him in the middle of that circle, wrapped their arms around him and prayed.
Then Jairo was up. More tears. He told the group about his drugs and being kicked out of his house. When he talked about the cartel murdering one of his friends, the pain in his eyes told the story. Again, more men gathered around him, held him and prayed.
One by one, they came — Chewy, Jorge, Terri, Fatyma — young men and women desperate for hope. Tears came with confession, and every time they finished, a group of adults rushed to them, put hands on shoulders, and cried out for God’s help.
Deb’s talk with the cups was good, but what was happening wasn’t the result of a good speech. Like a rushing wind, there was a force compelling those kids to stand in the middle of that circle. With every tear, every broken word of confession, and every prayer, I could almost hear the French horns of that Superman theme music playing in the background. Even if there was no red cape, it was clear; God was rescuing people, and my heart burned with wonder as I watched.
But there was more than just the Spirit of God moving among us. Lurking in the shadows of that courtyard, there was an enemy who hates rescues.
We finished the meeting close to midnight, and my family and I walked home full of conversation about what we saw.
We had no idea what was coming. We weren’t thinking about the darkness that battles against the light, even in little towns like Boquillas.
The news the next morning proved we had a battle to face, and our daughter Hope was right in the middle of it…
Be on the lookout for the conclusion to this story to find out the miraculous way God rescued Hope.
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