I am fascinated by the respectful way Jesus always treated sinners. No wonder He did not refute the accusation that He was a friend of sinners.
The kindness that leads to repentance
For instance, He told Zaccheus (a chief sinner) that he owned something that Jesus needed – a bed and a roof for the night.
He said to the Samaritan woman (a serial adulteress) that she had what He lacked – something with which to draw water from the well.
In Luke 10 He instructed his followers, whom He described as sheep, that when entering a wolf’s house they were to speak peace over it and eat whatever food the wolf served them as a set-up for them to take care of its needs!
In these three examples the kindness bestowed led to repentance.
Even as Jesus was pierced by terrible pain while bleeding on the cross, He assured a thief that until moments earlier had insulted Him that because of his repentance he would be the first Christian in heaven!
It is the goodness of the Lord that leads sinners to repentance and this is what we are seeing in the former murder capital of the world.
Thrive without bribes
Last night, Poncho Murguia presided over a gathering of 700+ community leaders, most of them not believers.The theme was AVANZA SIN TRANZA (thrive without bribes) which is the opposite of what is culturally accepted as inevitable in Mexico: SI NO TRANZAS NO AVANZAS (if you don’t bribe you won’t thrive).
Why would they come to a gathering like this when they already know that they have fallen short?
Because the audience consisted of top-level community leaders who live and work in a very corrupt environment, they are definitely far closer to Zaccheus or the Samaritan woman than to Nicodemus or the rich young ruler. And this included the former right hand man of the father of drug trafficking in Mexico now turned Christian that I told you about in my prior installment.
Why would they come to a gathering like this when they already know that they have fallen short of the standard reflected in the theme for the evening?
Because they see in Poncho and the Transformation Family the same character traits His contemporaries saw in Jesus: agape love.
Allen Kagina, the head of the Uganda Revenue Authority (the equivalent of the IRS in the USA) whose testimony I mentioned in my book Transformation, has been in town for three days giving radio, newspaper and TV interviews that caused the local media to break records for listeners, viewers and readers.
Turning the most corrupt government agency into an instrument of righteousness
What has she been talking about? The same theme she covered last night: how to turn the most corrupt government agency into an instrument of righteousness that allows the federal government to take care of the needs of the people.
Nine chambers of commerce lead the way with their stand against corruption!
I was given an opportunity to share how this is happening in other nations (Indonesia, Philippines, Tahiti, etc.) and Poncho proceeded to “spike the ball” by challenging this VIP audience to sign a manifesto as a demonstration of their stand against the corruption that, like a cancer, has metastasized all over Mexico.
Nine chambers of commerce lead the way with their stand against corruption!
Poncho was so anointed and eloquent that when he gave the invitation the chairs of the nine chambers of commerce that constitute the lifeline of Ciudad Juarez were the first ones to come on the platform to sign it and to pose for the secular media while holding a decal with the legend AVANZA SIN TRANZA.
After seeing such a bold display of commitment, the entire audience stood up and committed as well.They proceeded to sign their names on canvases that will be displayed publicly and posted on a webpage, and received a wristband with the legend AVANZA SIN TRANZA to wear at all times.
This also included a commitment to undergo a 12-hour training program and to post a decal on their front door and car windshield, with a similar logo on their business card. Furthermore, the Mayor of Juarez decided that all 6,880 municipal workers will undergo the training, and children in schools will be taught as well.
Abundant favor with the city!
How does the city feel about it? The media reported it in absolutely positive terms via TV, radio, newspapers and a flood of tweets that enhanced its already earth shattering impact. Tonight at a public function we attended, the elders of Ciudad Juarez – owners of large companies, powerful politicians, influential civil servants and educators – came up to Poncho and Allen (in some cases deeply moved) to express their appreciation for having launched a process that allows them to hope for a better Juarez.
What about personal decisions of faith?
This is city and nation discipleship in action! You may wonder, but where are the personal decisions of faith? We need to remind ourselves that the Great Commission is recorded twice in the New Testament: in the gospel of Mark and in the gospel of Matthew. In Mark, the focus is on preaching to individuals: “Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark16:15). But in Matthew, it’s on discipling nations: “Go and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).
Jesus did not say, “go and preach to nations” but “go and disciple nations.”
We have done a very good job preaching to individuals,baptizing and teaching them how to access the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome evil. But we have neglected the other side of the coin: discipling nations. Notice that Jesus did not say, “go and preach to nations” but “go and disciple nations.”
How do we disciple a nation? By doing for that nation, or for a city in this case, what Jesus did for individuals: healing them of incurable ills (humanly speaking) to open their eyes to the fact that God loves them.
Poncho’s goal for this weekend is to get 1,000 commitments,and then 5,000 by next year and 50,000 in five years. My personal observation is that these goals will be reached much sooner, and that an extraordinary flood of salvations will happen because the follow-up training will be done by Christians,providing them with the unique opportunity to combine the focus on individuals with the focus on the nation!
Today I got a glimpse, albeit small but a solid one nonetheless, of what the Apostles may have done when they “filled Jerusalem with their doctrine” (Acts 5:28) as I witnessed how the still unsaved media was talking enthusiastically about transformation. Granted, it is not in evidence yet, but let us remember that the Kingdom of God is like leaven that once introduced into the dough eventually leavens the mass.It takes time for this, but the leaven is in place in Juarez and soon we will see the convergence between Matthew 28:29 and Mark 16:15.
We saw this at the very beginning of our transformation journey in Resistencia when we built water tanks for thirsty neighborhoods in a city with only 5,143 believers and watched that number grow to over 100,000 in a few years.
We saw it in Indonesia at Roy Tirtadji’s Multiplicator’s office when a cluster of daring businessmen signed a pledge renouncing corruption that set the process in motion for Sentul City to be dedicated to God by Mr Kumala in 2006, and for the entire government to do the same in East Belitung in 2012.
We saw it when King Flores introduced the leaven of the Kingdom in Parañaque City, at the time one of the most corrupt cities in the Philippines and today one that proudly states on its seal: “A City dedicated to God”.
Hope for other troubled areas of the world!
Just wait until Wall Street hears that just south of this turbulent and so maligned border there is now a city that has taken a stand against corruption, and then watch the kings of the earth come to the brightness of its light a la Isaiah 60.
What a day to be alive! And we still have two more days so “we ain’t seen nothing yet!” Be on standby for my next report, but keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we continue to press forward and go deeper to retake enemy-held territory for God’s glory.
Ed and Ruth Silvoso