Life-changing moments happen without warning. They have a tendency to sneak up on you and grab you by the throat when you least expect it. In other words, a life-changing moment is unpredictable. Please allow me to share another from our trip to Parras, Mexico that grabbed me by the gullet and shook me out of my somewhat sheltered life as a middle-class American.
Little did I know as we walked around the little adobe house across from the Dickey’s Plant in Parras that I would encounter God in the backyard. As Armand opened the plywood door on the sandstone colored adobe banos (Spanish for bathroom), I was stunned. As I looked inside everything one would need to take a shower— the shampoo, a bar of soap in a dish, a shower cap, towel, and a drain— was there, except a shower. There was no shower head, no pipe, no valves—just a dented old galvanized bucket and a ragged green hosepipe. Here in a four by four foot little room two brothers and two sisters (the oldest only 20 years of age) washed away the dirt and grime after a long hot day of work with a bucket of cold water. I was shocked as I backed out of the little shower room and stood looking through the 2-3 inch crack around the door where these young people were bathing. Here in a little city of 45,000, how was this possible?
These four young people were the oldest of eight children who had grown up in a village twenty
miles east of Parras. They had lived their life in a home with an abusive father. A local church had intervened and taken the mother and the eight children and put them in a safe place in hopes that the father would get some help. Sadly, the mother returned with the four youngest, but these four decided to start a new life in a new place.
As I looked inside that little shower room, God allowed me to see a sliver of the daily details of survival these kids struggled with every day. Poverty is such an ugly thing, and sadly most of us never notice it until it jumps up and hits us in the face. By the way, that same kind of poverty exists right here in the USA, but most of us never notice it. But, if you focus your eyes and look through God’s eyes you will see it.
In my other life I was/am a plumber. Preaching and plumbing are basically the same profession—except one has a spiritual application and the other a physical one. As I looked into that little shower room I knew we could fix this situation, and these kids would experience a life-changing moment. All those years of plumbing were about to pay off in a climactic moment I will never forget.
We headed to the local hardware store to get supplies. Pooling what we bought with some pipe from the Mexico Outreach Center—Roger, Jim, and I set about our work. In a few hours the job was complete. We not only able to take care of the shower, but we also installed a water heater so that they could have a hot shower. These four kids had never had a cold shower much less a hot one!
As we were finishing up, Maria (she is the oldest at 20 years) came out to check the laundry hanging on the clothes line in the backyard. I motioned for her to come over and look inside. Now I don’t speak Spanish and she does not speak English, so all I could do was point and all she could do was look where I was pointing. As she stared quietly, I opened the plywood door—revealing the new shower valve within.
I will never forget the look in her eyes as the door opened. This little girl has lived a hard life and her response was filtered through a tough protective outward shell hardened by pain, but the light in her eyes jumped as she saw the piping, the shower head, and the little boiler and I saw it. It was pure—there was nothing fake in it—just sheer joy. It was a life-changing moment for her and…it was a life-changing moment for me.
All of us can make a difference in someone’s life. You don’t have to travel to another country—all you have to do is open your eyes and surrender your availability and will to a God who has the ability and resources to meet every need of those around you. A shower is not a big deal to most of us, but to a family who has never had the luxury of one, it is life-changing.
Our God is a life-changing God. Sometimes he uses salvation and sometimes he uses showers, but he always uses willing people to bring about the change. And…the wonderful thing about these life-changing moments is that your life is changed even more than that person you are seeking to serve.