DR. TOMMY ASHCRAFT, VETERAN MISSIONARY TO MEXICO
A guest post by my hubby, David, who blogs over at In Support of Israel.
Riding the bus from our village into town this morning, I shared an amazing story with Jolene that I had just read in a letter from my Uncle Tommy Ashcraft. We were on our way to begin our second week of VBS this summer, and we had some time to talk as we sat together on the bus. The story I shared brought tears to Jolene’s eyes as she, once again, realized the Lord’s miraculous protection of our family and their ministries during dangerous times.
As you are well aware, Mexico has become a very dangerous place to live due to the ongoing drug war. Forty-five members of my family live in Mexico, so you can imagine the amount of time I spend in prayer for their safety. Uncle Tommy pastors in Monterrey, Mexico, and each Sunday they rent buses and bring in families who do not have vehicles to church.
At 9:30 a.m., Sunday, July 3, in Monterrey, gunfire broke out between drug gangs. At precisely that same time, just a few hundred yards away, a bus from Uncle Tommy’s church with a group of their church people was on their way to the morning service when the bus’s engine suddenly died. The driver later said that the bus had not previously had any mechanical problems. When the police arrived to divert traffic around the gun battle, the bus started and arrived at church with no further trouble. I wonder *Who* stopped that bus engine?!
Yesterday at 6:10 p.m., less than three miles from Uncle Tommy & Aunt Brenda’s house, an area where Aunt Brenda’s soul-winning group often goes, a man was gunned down. He was one of 19 people recently murdered or found murdered in their area. They have had to postpone their youth camp because the area where it was scheduled to take place is so compromised by the violence.
What Uncle Tommy wrote in conclusion was a blessing to Jolene and me, and I am sure it will be to you as well:
We know of several missionaries in our area who have returned to the States because of the violence. I do not blame them. Everyone must do what he thinks is right for him, his family and his ministry. There are 18 soldiers temporarily stationed less than a mile from our house. For all practical purposes, we are under martial law. We have given the army permission to land a helicopter on our church parking lot if necessary.Thank you again for your prayers for our family!
God has protected us. It is somewhat disquieting to stop and think of what is going on in our immediate vicinity. But multitudes of other missionaries live and have lived under much more difficult circumstances. Perhaps theirs just do not receive the press that ours do. We all know pastors in the U.S. who are facing difficulties with whom I would not want to trade places. Everyone is struggling. We all struggle: we just struggle in different ways at different times.
We share these things with you not to alarm you or curry your sympathy. That’s not what we need or want. We do need your prayers, as do all your missionaries. We know “...that the same afflictions are accomplished in (y)our brethren that are in the world.” (I Peter 5:9). When everyone else’s troubles are over, and we are the only ones suffering, then you can feel sorry for us. Until then, just pray.
Our church continues to reach several hundred people with the gospel each week. Two people, a mother and son, reported leading their first souls to Christ last week. That happens in almost every Sunday-evening service during the soul-winning report. Four people volunteered to work in the Sunday school, bringing our total to over 100 Sunday School and children church workers.