Christmas Happiness from the Dumps.
By Pastor Troy Brewer
About ten years ago I made my first trip to the border and across into the trash dumps of Matamoros. It was a lot like going to the moon for me. Anytime you get out of your box you are likely to hear God speak to your heart in a profound way. It tends to be dangerous territory because when you really hook up with the heart of God, you tend to get changed. I have discovered Jesus never leaves me the same way He finds me.
I had seen things on TV. I had an idea of what to expect, but I was completely unprepared for the effect it would have on me personally. I went to Mexico and came back completely different. The impact of those beautiful people in that terrible place was so strong that in some ways it defines me today. A lot of the ways I think and deal with life’s issues, the Lord taught me from a trash-dump pulpit. I still go back there four or five time a year. It’s something like another semester in Brewer’s theological seminary.
Planes and Trains
It’s not the traveling part that changed me. Yes I’m a gringo, but hardly a greenhorn. I’ve been to India twice, Uganda four times, all over Central America and even made an illegal missionary trip to Cuba. The trips we take tend to be rugged, raw and off the beaten path. Always on the bad part of town.
Still traveling has its perks. I’ve prayed at the wall in Jerusalem, suffered for Jesus from hammocks on the Caribbean and had the high honor of addressing the King in his actual palace at Kampala. I have had just as great an honor in hugging leprosy victims at a colony in Asia. It’s been awesome.
I’ve been so sick in Nicaragua that the locals put me in a 50-gallon oil drum full of water to cool my fever down. I’ve been so pampered I’ve eaten steak from first class on Singapore Airlines with a ticket I didn’t even pay for.
I’ve seen little kids in East Africa playing with a deadly black mamba snake and two men fight to the death with machetes for money in Cuba. I have actually witnessed Muslim rebels coming into Western Uganda from Congo and seen the village after they got through with it. I’ve also seen people have so much mercy and compassion it defies explanation.
My son and I were robbed in a taxi in Bombay. I have protested anti-American protesters in downtown London and dawned a kilt in Scotland. When my wife and I were offered marijuana in Jamaica, I said, “No thanks brother, we are Christians.” The drug dealer smiled, gave me a big hug and said, “Yo mon, I am too!” He promised me the “weed of wisdom” would help me receive a higher revelation.
That’s just scratching the surface so when I say the Matamoros dump had a profound effect on me its not because I don’t get out much. In fact, I have been back to the dumps nearly sixty times since then, taken hundreds of people with me and nearly half a million pounds of food. It affects me because I want it to. Matamoros makes my priorities rightly align. It makes me realize how privileged I really am.
A Higher Education
Last week, we took 2,200 backpacks and tote bags stuffed full of toys to the kids in Brownsville (TX), Matamoros (Mexico) and yes, even to the city dump. The advantage of loving on kids and giving things away is one of the greatest gifts God has personally given me. My wife and I not only take a bunch of crazy people from the church down there but we always take our kids with us too. The impact it has made on them has been just as incredible.
This Christmas we will be in our little house on our little spot in Johnson County, Texas. We will have just come back from another experience in the trash dump of a major Mexican city. We will know we are blessed. We will know life is special and we will know that God’s goodness is overwhelming.
We won’t have an exuberant amount of gifts to give each other because we spent it all on our trip. But what we will have is happiness and appreciation. Sometimes happiness is wanting what you already have. I learned that in the dump.
Merry Christmas friends and may you be blessed with a Christmas of wanting what you already have.
Psalms 63:5 - "You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy." (N.L.V.)