By Stephen Tolman, missionary in Mexico
Psalm 103 speaks to me a lot: “Bless the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
There are times when we must command our souls to bless the Lord. There are times we do forget his benefits. We have problems with kids, jobs, church… we need to raise funds. We cannot forget his benefits, because that’s what keeps our faith alive. Here’s one story that does that for me.
There was a local man here in San Pedro, Mexico, named Oscar. We both had soccer teams, and we were talking about merging.
He was a sharp businessman. Unfortunately, he was also into money laundering for the government. One day when we met on business, I witnessed to him, and he said, “I don’t need God because I’m doing fine.”
But he had an unfaithful marriage and crooked business dealings. Two years later the government changed, and he was left holding the bag. They arrested him for money laundering and put him in prison.
While he was in prison, he remembered my witness. He turned to the Lord for the first time and prayed: “God, I’m not saying get me out and I’ll serve you. I’ll serve you while I’m here.”
The politicians were really trying to cover themselves, so Oscar received a 50-year sentence. But God told him, “In seven months and seven weeks, you will get out of here.”
Oscar’s wife didn’t believe it. “You’re crazy,” she told him on the phone.
But miraculously, he had heard God correctly. In seven months and seven weeks, they let him out, and he came back home a radical Christian. Oscar said to his wife, “God has been so good to us. We have to talk about Jesus.”
“You’re crazy,” his wife said again, “but I have to believe you now.”
Blessing the Lord in good and bad times
Oscar contacted me, and we started having weekly discipleship phone calls.
He had a religious school, a nominally Christian school, where he began discipling the students.
There were about 300 students. Soon the parents of about 200 were threatening to take their students out if Oscar didn’t stop talking to them about Jesus.
Oscar told them, “I appreciate you advising me, but this school is about Jesus.”
That week one family left. The next week two more left.
But more families came, and after a while even those three families that left came back.
Now there are three schools with over 2000 students, and three churches with more than 800 people have started out of the schools.
Oscar learned to bless the Lord in good and bad. He told me, “I was such a sinner, and God was so good to me.”
I bless the Lord for that story.