Love Your Neighbor

The first day Annie and I arrived at our home in Juquila we had no clue what we had gotten into. The house right next to us had these strange little cardboard/newspaper men hanging from the house. So many thoughts raced through our heads… Who lives here? What are these people like? And why are there little paper men hanging from their house? It was a lot to take in, but someone later informed us, that those were just the first stages of piñatas. That helped ease our nerves, but we were still skeptical. Who were our neighbors? They couldn’t be that bad if they made piñatas for a living, right? Little did we know that our neighbors would be one of the biggest blessings from God that we received in Mexico.

Juan-Carlos and Alma are a sweet couple. They are fairly reserved and they love the outdoors. They quickly became our best friends in Juquila. They would take us on hikes, invite us over for dinner, and Alma would randomly come over to our house with some type of delicious food that she prepared, it’s like she always knew when we were hungry. A few months later when Annie got sick, they were constantly helping us. They took us to the doctor and basically fed us during that time. They were constantly blessing us.

Recently, Juquila and the town next door (Yaitepec) have been fighting. They have been fighting over land, and Yaitepec decided to block one of the roads leading to their town and leading to Oaxaca City. This has affected a lot of people financially, many people aren’t able to make money because of this blockade. This especially had an affect on our neighbors because they make their living selling piñatas to a shop in Yaitepec. We started to realize that our neighbors started to look worried and sad. One day Alma came over to us and explained to us their situation and how they can’t make payments or buy much because they no longer have a way to make a sufficient income. Alma asked us if we would be willing to let them borrow some money. We told them that we would love to and after that Annie and I got to pray with Alma and share with her the truth of Christ and what he has done for us. The next day we told them that we didn’t just want to let them borrow it, but we wanted to give it to them. They didn’t know how to answer, they were in shock. Alma went on to tell us that when we prayed with her the other day it gave her this peace,  and she told us that they want to start praying with us more often. Annie and I were almost in tears, this is what we have been praying about since before we got to Juquila.

All of this didn’t happen overnight. This was over the span of months of getting to know our neighbors and eating meals with them and hiking in the mountains with them. It was months and months of loving our neighbors. Had we preached the gospel in their face the first day, I doubt this beautiful opportunity would have come into fruition. We understand why the greatest commandments from Jesus are to love the Lord your God with all your being and to love your neighbor as yourself. It is through this love of our neighbor that we are given the opportunity to share the truth of Christ and what he has done for us.

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

This is the great and first commandment.

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

– Matthew 22:36-39

When we love God and love our neighbor we are walking in the way God desires us to live. When you don’t think you are making a difference in your particular job or vocation, remember that God desires us to love Him and love our neighbor. We might not get to preach the gospel to every single person we come in contact with, but we can love them.

-Brett Balsley, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Brett and Annie as they serve with GEM in Juquila to share the gospel with this unreached town, you can do so HERE. You can also contact them directly to talk further about what it means to be on their support team and find out how you can be praying for them!