“Hey, everyone, let’s praise the Lord,” Damara called to the “congregation.” That congregation consisted of Damara, her husband Agustin, their children, and their dog! After three months of services, they were the only people attending their church, named the Nothing Is Impossible Church.
Damara was beginning to worry and had a talk with her dad, Phillip Tolman, a local pastor and ministry leader. She and Agustin had left Philip’s church to start Nothing Is Impossible Church. His counsel was, “No, don’t give up. Keep going. You’re going to make this work.”
Nothing Is Impossible?
The biggest irony was the name of the church: Nothing Is Impossible Church. Agustin and Damara were beginning to wonder if it was true. Was nothing impossible? Could they start a church with just a rented building and the desire to minister in the town where they lived? After all, they had been doing a great job in Phillip’s church as youth pastors and worship leaders. Besides that, they had been pastoring a little church in a small village. They could go back to those ministries. Instead, they decided to take Phillip’s advice and keep holding services.
A few Sundays later, Damara again called the “congregation” together: “Let’s gather and praise the Lord.” This time, she and Agustin were shocked when the door opened to the rented house where they were holding church. A family walked in! Agustin and Damara had been handing out flowers in the town where they lived to invite people to the church they started, but, after months of work, they were surprised when someone showed up! The thought entered Agustin’s mind, “Now, what am I gonna do?”
Agustin and Damara were nervous. The first service with the new family in attendance was awkward, but Agustin and Damara proceeded. The pressure was on to minister to these people that God had sent to them. After all, Phillip had helped them rent the church and had encouraged them to keep going.
That family came back repeatedly, and others in the community started coming, too. After a year, the house was full, with 50 to 60 people in attendance each week. The children’s class had to be held outside, so they decided to rent another small apartment where the children could meet.
The first family to come, Reuben and Jessica, had never been in church, and they knew nothing about God. Every other word out of their mouth was a curse word. Reuben had been a bodyguard for the president of Mexico for a couple of years. He came from a background of kidnapping, drugs, and killing. He looked the part, as he was very tall, big, and imposing.
Agustin and Damara began visiting Reuben and Jessica to teach them about the Bible and Jesus. First, Jessica asked to be baptized, and then Reuben asked, too. Agustin jokingly admitted that he thought, “How will I baptize him?”
Agustin proceeded with the baptism in spite of his misgivings about Reuben’s size. They went to a little creek, and Agustin stood on a large rock. He asked two other people to help him immerse Reuben. All three of them joined Reuben in the water. He was heavy! But what a blessing to see that family transformed. They are still attending church, and Jessica has become a policewoman.
Growing Trust Leads to a Sad Revelation
After attending the church, being baptized, and getting to know Agustin and Damara, Jessica approached Damara to talk. Jessica shared that she came from a background of being sexually abused. She hesitated to talk as the situation was complicated but felt she needed to share the problem with Damara.
As Damara listened, she wondered, “Why me? What can I say to her? I would have a hard time forgiving something like this. But forgiveness is the answer.” So Damara listened, prayed, and shared the wisdom she received from God. She told Jessica that we can only forgive because God will help us through the hurts. He will help us to forgive.
After helping Jessica, Damara realized that sexual abuse of women and children in Mexico was a more common situation than she had realized. The Lord kept sending women to the church to talk to her. She heard the same type of story over and over. Then Jessica’s sister came to church several times. She did not know about God, but God brought her to Damara. She requested that they talk. She shared that she had considered that very day going to her uncle and killing him. She came to church instead and talked to Damara. Then she told Damara that her uncle had raped her. She told Damara, “I thought of visiting him, and I had a knife to kill him. But because I came to church, I feel I don’t have to do it now!”
A New Ministry Opportunity
Damara listened and helped her. Women continued to come to share with her about their abuse. Damara explained, “We can see that God can restore their lives after this traumatic situation. We need to let them know that we will listen. There is someone they can talk to and trust.”
Damara was asked to speak at another church to children four to 12 years old, telling how they could defend themselves against abuse and what to do if it happened to them. This meeting confirmed to her that God wanted her to focus on helping abused people. She realized that God was calling her to work in this area to help women and children to forgive and recover from abuse.
She has been working with these women for the past four years and sees God’s hand in this ministry. She is counseling five women right now.
It takes courage for a woman to speak up. Because of the importance of family in her culture, it is difficult to get a woman to admit who abused her or her child. It is important to build trust first, and then a survivor will share. So far, only one woman has gone to the police. She pressed charges against her father for abusing her son at three years of age. Her father is now in prison, but justice rarely happens.