Documenting a home building project and evangelistic event which took place in Tijuana Mexico in November 2010.
Photo credits: - Chad Youngquist- John Rennert- Jim Harp
Blog by Jim Harp
Chad and Jamie
Chad and Jamie
The Home for Home Program
Chad and Jamie Youngquist along with Chad's parents Jon and JoAnn Youngquist own Pillar Development Company which specializes in building modest starter homes in Ellensburg Washington. For each home Pillar Development builds in the USA they are committed to building a small home for an underprivileged family in a developing country. This project is known as the Home for Home Program and consists of the Youngquist family and their many friends from around the world.
Baja Christian Ministries (BCM) serves the spiritual and physical needs of the poor through engaging short-term mission teams in Mexico. For Churches and organizations throughout the United States, Mexico and worldwide, this Ministry provides opportunity for active, first-hand service in the third world environment.
This blog documents a Home for Home build and evangelistic event which took place in Tijuana Mexico in November 2010. The Youngquists graciously invited me to join their group for the weekend which turned out to be one of the most educational, emotional and rewarding experiences in my life.
As work comenced, Ramon from Baja Christian ministries introduced himself and his young son also named Ramon. Ramon, who I found to have an infectious personallity proceeded to tell me his history as a street gangster and drug dealer. He explained that before finding Jesus his face was set in a permanent scowl, placed there as a warning to others that he was a dangerous man. I challenged Ramon to demonstrate his 'mean mug' for me and observed attempts to transform his smiling face into that of his former life. His facial muscles moved and twitched but refused to remember that long abandoned nasty face. The end result of his attempts was an even larger smile as shown in this picture. As Ramon spoke to me about his life and love for Jesus it was apparent he has been blessed with a keen understanding of his relationship with God.
The neck tattoo is evidence of Ramon's former life as a criminal gang member.
The work crew from Mexico and Washington State pose on the concrete slab which will soon become the base for the new home. (I'm the guy holding the camera.) The volunteers in this picture have done a number of these projects so they are able to complete one in an amazing time. The completed home has 3 rooms, loft, roofing, siding, windows, sheet rock, tape, mud, exterior paint and electrical. Plumbing is not a factor as there is no running water in this neighborhood.
Pictured above is Maria who is a leader in the local church and has pitched in to help build previous homes in the neighborhood. When it was learned that Maria was going to lose her home it was decided that she would be the recipient of the home we came to build.
Exterior components are painted on the ground eleminating the need to paint the completed structure.
The framing goes up quickly.
The pre-painted gable ends are placed upon the front and rear walls.
Pastor Hector Rubio has participated in so many builds he could supervise the construction of this structure in his sleep. His cowboy hat is actually a reinforced construction workers hard hat.
Sheet rock, tape then mud and done.
A job well done, with hearts full of joy as evidenced by the broad smiles.
Maria, her daughter and grandson smile while Chad hands over the keys and these lyrics from a favorite hymn went through my head -
An evangelistic mission into the barrio was planned for the following day. This was a new and unusual experience for me therefore I started out as a rather reluctant participant. Little did I know how powerful this day would be for me.
We arrived in a neighborhood and after praying, Ramon packed us up and moved us to a different location. When asked why the change, Ramon explained that if the neighborhood had a peaceful and inviting feel (vibes) about it, that was not the right place but if the feeling was of dread or rejection then that was the best place to share our beliefs in God.
We broke up into two groups with the group I was with following Ramon around the block going from door to door. Every home had a gate complete with chain, lock and hungry looking dog. Ramon told us if the lock is on the outside then nobody is home and if on the inside then somebody is there. Ramon would go up to the gate and loudly yell out - "Buenos dias". If nobody came to the gate then he would have us all yell in unison - "Buenos dias" and that would usually bring a person to the gate. Being the primary Spanish speaking person Ramon would explain why we Norte Americano's were in Mexico and invite the individual to meet us at a certain place in the street at a certain time for prayer and religious testimony. Based on my knowledge of how American home owner's would react to a similar invitation it was my mistaken belief that the response to these invitations would be slim or none.
When we returned to the prearranged location there were 3 elderly señoras waiting for us and that was all. Ramon commented that there was usually many more interested persons than that and commenced a silent prayer. I wasn't paying too much attention to what was happening but it seemed like only minutes later that I noticed the señoras had multiplied into a small crowd of men, woman and children standing in the light rain waiting for something to happen. Next a nearby home owner appeared and unlocking the gate invited the assembly of people to come into their courtyard and stand under the awning to get out of the rain.
People from the neighborhood continue to arrive as the gathering share a short prayer.
Spanish text bibles and "Purple Book" study guides were freely passed out while local pastor Nico in the picture below wrote down names and contact information of the recipients for follow up later.
The Purple Book helps the student find answers from the Bible while helping build a solid foundation as a Christian. This 12 part series covers the essential truths of the Christian faith in a style that not only educates in the Scripture, but empowers the reader to learn and help others.
Purple Book organisers say their mission to disciple one million people in the Mexican state of Baja California within 20 years using the Purple Book has been exceeding their expectations.
Ramon and others pray for this little girl who suffers from seizures.
The lady shown below responded when the group was asked if there were any special needs which we could pray for. It was traslated to me that - she complained her Eustachian tube and inner ear on one side of her head were blocked with chronic infected secretions causing partial deafness and much pain. Ramon held the woman's head in his hands while praying silently in Spanish. Suddenly the woman burst into excited tears and shouts in Spanish. She exclaimed that she could feel and taste the poison debris draining from her ear. Her hearing was returned and the pain was gone. "God has healed me!" she exclaimed in great excitement.
About ten children politely joined the assembly.
The adults form a circle around the children while Ramon leads us in a prayer asking God for a special child's blessing.
One of the workers from Washington told me that he has been on six previous projects and that at one evangelistic mission there were about sixty persons attending and another over one hundred while this meeting had about thirty people in attendance. He also said that there has always been successful healing at the previous meetings he attended.
Members of the US group related personal testimony in support of their belief in God and love for Jesus. As they speak, their words are translated into Spanish by the local pastor. All of those assembled listened closely as their stories unfolded. Their testimony had a noticeable impact on all those that were present.
Justin told how when his Mother was carrying him as an unborn baby the doctors could find no sign of life within her womb, that she was carrying a dead fetus. After a month it appeared that the fetus would have to be removed. Before going to the hospital Justin's Mother and Father prayed to Jesus for special intervention and resolution. When the pair arrived at the hospital the doctor did one last examination prior to removing the dead fetus. The examination showed that their prayers had been answered as a live healthy baby now resided in the womb.
Christy testified that she had been living a life cloaked in fear and and an unfounded phobia of dread and anxiety, that something or somebody would harm her. When her husband wasn't around she kept the house locked and would peek out the windows searching for the source of this nightmarish apprehension. Once the fear grew so extreme that she phoned the police even though the threat was only in her imagination. However as a result of her prayers, the Lord in His grace delivered her from her groundless fears and replaced them with peaceful calm and courage.
We all returned to San Diego that evening and spent the night at a hotel near the airport. Very early the next morning the Washington group said their goodbyes and loaded up in their rental van for the trip to the airport. As I walked through the hotel lobby at 5 AM this greybeard started chatting with me. It turned out this gentleman is Don Pavey who 47 years ago was my shipmate aboard the USS Tom Green County, LST-1159. Please note the license plate on my truck in the picture.
You can tell you are getting old when you pose for a picture with your shirt tucked into your underpants. (Yikes !)
Driving from San Diego to my home in Desert Hot Springs I chased this rainbow much of the way and couldn't help thinking it represented God's signature to a powerful and rewarding weekend.
What are the consequences of this weekend?
- Glory to God. - A home for the homeless. - Relief from pain and hearing loss for the lady at the revival. - Bibles and study books for the spiritually needy. - Improved understanding between neighboring cultures. - Improved relationships with God. - New friends. - A blog describing good happenings.