Oraciones fuertes

February 11, 2007

Y. has been living in Guadalupe for twelve years and attends my church. Before that, she lived in the biggest city in the western hemisphere, Mexico City. Like many immigrants to Guadalupe–as opposed to more affluent areas of Phoenix–Y. and her family live hand-to-mouth and have relied on the church for support occasionally.

Y. calls our worship service “mass” and is a pretty solid participant. She doesn’t do more than come to the service, but she comes regularly, and she is not shy about making prayer requests during our time of intercessory prayer.

Recently, Y.’s 18-month-old grandson, who lives in Mexico, was diagnosed with pneumonia and needed antibiotics badly. The antibiotics cost 1000 pesos, approximately $100. The church gave her this money to send to Mexico, the antibiotics were purchased, and the boy recovered rapidly. From her reports, he is completely back to health now and the apple of his family’s eye.

This morning about half an hour before service, Y. came to me and seemed to want to talk. She told me (in Spanish) that she was “really getting more into religion.” She said that her grandson had healed so well that she now realized that the church’s prayers “are really strong.” She said this over and over.

Sumerian prayer figuresThen she told me a story of how she and her husband–who has a very common name–had been hassled by the sheriff’s deputies last night. It turns out that these officers were looking for another man with the same name, but they had almost hauled Y. and her husband away to jail because of this mistaken identity. Y. started to feel physically ill during the episode with the police (whom she calls the “cherries”); this is what got them released. One officer noticed that she wasn’t looking well and checked into their story a little better. He discovered that Y.’s husband wasn’t the man they wanted, and they let them go quickly since they’ve recently had some legal trouble with people getting “sick” while being detained by them. Y. reported that while they were being held by the cops, she had been praying (the Catholic “rezando” instead of the more Protestant “orando”) during the whole situation, and she attributed their release at least in part to this fact.

Then she told me again that our prayers are strong (“fuertes”). I replied that God was strong, and our prayers were sincere. I also said that praying can have a calming effect when you are in a stressful situation. Typical tepid response from the pastor about the ability of God actually to intercede in our affairs. I just don’t want her to be hurt when our “oraciones fuertes” (strong prayers) don’t work. She has been clear, however, that she believes that our Presbyterian prayers–combined with our willingness to help her out of tight situations–have been miraculous for her. So, we have miracles. And our prayers work, i.e., they perform the function that she expects. More proof that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

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4 Responses to “Oraciones fuertes”

  1. Alex Says:

    I am glad they were not detained by the police.

  2. Matt Says:

    Brett, if it makes you feel any better most of us have absolutley no idea what we’re doing.

    It’s the ones who do that scare me the most.

  3. Charles Says:

    Ditto to Matt.

    However, I thought your statement that “God was strong, and our prayers were sincere” showed great wisdom. If you’re anything like me, anytime we trip into wisdom, it feels totally accidental!

  4. sheepdays Says:

    Yeah, getting detained by Joe Arpaio’s men is doubtlessly no fun at all.
    Thanks, Matt, for your comments. The only accounting I can make for any wisdom is that I am one of those unique people who still has his wisdom teeth in. I guess I had a big mouth to start out with.


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