Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
The name Juan means, ‘God is gracious.’ These words perfectly describe my 94-year-old friend who lives at the nursing home in Guatemala. Despite his frail frame, his arthritic hands, and deteriorating hearing, Juan is full of love, laughter, joy, kindness and youthfulness. Ever since I first met Juan in 2013, I knew he loved to talk. And I am guilty that I tried to make my greetings and goodbyes to him brief so I would not get stuck talking with him. I was too afraid not be able to understand or converse with him because I did not know enough Spanish at the time.
During our second day of ministry this summer, we visited our dear friends at the nursing home. I saw Juan out of the corner of my eye and I knew God was telling me to go talk to him and to listen to him. So I did. And what a blessing it was! I sat with Juan for the entire time we were at the nursing home that day, then the next week, and the week after that, until it was time for me to return to the United States. By the grace of God and because I studied more Spanish, Juan and I were able to understand and communicate with each other this year. From telling me about his family, to him eating monkey meat at some point during his life, we laughed and enjoyed these simple conversations with each other. Oh how meaningful these conversations were to both him and to me!
I learned that Juan is a devoted believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Each week I would attempt to read the Bible to him in Spanish because he could not read it without his glasses. We would share our favorite verses with each other, and he would explain how important God’s Word is. Every week I would ask him what passage he would like me to read to him, and every time he would say the book of Psalms. Juan’s eyes always lit up when he talked about the Bible.
I was trying to be God’s messenger and missionary to Juan, but in reality, Juan was a missionary to me. He encouraged me to stay close to God, to be diligent in spreading the Gospel, and to look forward to the day of Christ’s return. Juan motivated me to grow even deeper in my faith and to completely trust God. Although his body and health are deteriorating, God has been gracious to Juan. He is 94 years old and vibrantly loves the Lord with a passionate and committed heart. One day Juan will be with his glorious Lord and Savior, free of pain and blessed with a new body.
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.