Leaving the Past Behind

By J Spurling, missionary to Paraguay 
When Cristian received Jesus in the Asunción Alliance church in Paraguay, he was struggling with alcoholism yet serious about his relationship with the Lord. I encouraged the 19-year-old to depend upon God for strength in overcoming that stronghold. I also shared with him that it is essential to make a break from his old life, which consists mainly of friends who like to drink. When I first took this seriously in my own life, I couldn’t go near the places I used to go before, where everyone knew my name.  
One Sunday, Cristian came to church completely inebriated. I found him out front, dozing against the wall with one eye open and one closed. He was waiting to talk to the muchachas (young ladies). I told him he had to leave because this behavior was not one of respect to the Lord. 
“Pastor, I just want to sleep a while right here,” said Cristian. I told him he couldn’t stay. “If I have to carry you to the corner and leave you there, I will do it. But you will leave here right now.”  
We walked to the corner, and Cristian said that maybe it would be best for everyone if he left the church. I told him, “Maybe so, but you need to make decisions like that when you can think correctly.”  
The next day was difficult for me as I thought about Cristian. What if he decides to leave the church? What if I was too harsh on him? What if I did something in this culture that I should not have done? “Father,” I prayed, “help me . . . help Cristian.”  
Cristian called me the night of our Christmas program. He wanted to talk, but not at the church. We agreed to meet on a street corner near the church. I felt a little nervous waiting there. What if he shot me? I began sizing up the light pole, trying to determine which side would offer the most protection from an oncoming drive-by. 
“Pastor, I need to ask your forgiveness,” Cristian said before he even reached me. “I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you last night. This morning as I was praying to God, He told me that He would not listen to me until I asked forgiveness of Pastor J.” I told him that he can always find love, grace, and mercy here when he seeks it.  
Please continue to pray for Cristian and others like him. Specifically pray that Cristian can draw closer to the folks within our church and that he will have the strength to leave his old life behind.


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