FINDING MY JOY
Jose Rivera Pastor of 5 cities Vineyard has been bringing teams to Mazatlán for over 22 years. This year he brought James, who had never been to Mazatlán, on a mission’s team before. Pastor Jose had not realized but James had lost all his joy in his life. As James blessed the poor God blessed him.
Here’s James story
For the past 4-years, I’ve had several depressing things happen including the death of several friends and relatives, a couple suicides, death of my mother-in-law, my father’s heart attack, a close friends’ cancer diagnosis, another one a stroke victim. It seemed like every few months I was hearing more bad news. One evening, I was sitting in my living room, and I looked up at a Christmas decoration on my wall that said the word “Joy”. At that moment, it felt like God was showing me that I had lost my joy. Suddenly, I broke down crying, which I don’t do very often, but I couldn’t stop. I had slowly been beaten down by sadness over the past four years and it eventually broke me. I couldn’t handle any more sad news and I didn’t know what to do.
My wife and I had already planned a mission’s trip to India in February. After our layover in the Netherlands, we tried to board our plane to India and didn’t realize we needed visas to enter so we ended up coming back home early. I was even more discouraged and thought, “now what”? I still had this joyless cloud over me that I couldn’t shake.
About this time, I had some friends tell me about a mission’s trip to Mazatlan that was coming up and they were encouraging me and my wife to go. I had heard about La Vina and what they were doing down there but I was still reluctant to go. I was in a bad place and didn’t feel like I had anything to offer. But then I thought, “maybe this is where God wants me to go and maybe I can find my joy there. So, I decided to go.
I had no idea what God was going to do but by the end of the week, I found my joy by serving others. I got to feed the poor, pray for mothers and their children, celebrate ocean baptisms, reconnect with people from the Central Coast, eat copious amounts of tacos, build relationships with La Vina staff members and get a better understanding of the vision and see the positive and permanent impact they are making in Mazatlan. It was also an incredible blessing to co-labor with a team of like-minded believers all focused on blessing others. What a powerful thing to experience.
For me, all I was hoping for was to find joy and that’s what happened. Something broke off me that week and God restored my joy. Sometimes all it takes is a simple “yes, I will go” and He does the rest.