Who dares make light of small beginnings? (Zechariah 4:10 NET)
The other day, on a crowded subway in Mexico City, I watched a mother buy a pack of flavored gum for her two-year-old son from a vendor passing through the train cars. The two-year-old delighted in opening the gum packet and eating a piece. Then his mother did an amazing thing.
The mother instructed the boy to share his gum with those of us sitting in the same area on the train, and he did! Smiling and laughing, he made his way up and down the car offering gum to each one of us, all of us smiling and laughing in return. What a joy to watch! Such a small act of generosity with such a large impact!
This is how I often find myself feeling when I see MCC’s work around the world alongside our partners. A relatively small contribution can often make such a large difference in peoples’ lives.
In the village of Tepatlaxco about 90 minutes outside of Mexico City, Aulas de Desarrollo y Esperanza (classrooms of development and hope), with just a staff of two, serves a dozen children with physical and developmental disabilities. MCC helps with a small grant to Aulus. When you see these children smile, you know something good is happening here.
The 50 or 60 children that Aulus has touched in the last six years is only a small percentage of the children who could use its services. “The children feel at home here, and yes, these children have disabilities, but sometimes, it’s other people who create the barriers for them,” the director, Maribel, told us. Maribel wants to encourage more families in the nearby villages to use Aulus’ services.
In Mexico City, we are staying at Casa de los Amigos (House of Friends), another MCC partner organization. Marco Antonio, the director, sees his ministry as one of hospitality, not just for people like us passing through, but also for the 65 migrants who have also stayed here during the past several years. Tonio estimates that 250,000 migrants will pass through Mexico this year, about 200,000 from Central America and the rest from other parts of the world.
The 65 migrants Casa has hosted represents a very small number of the many people in need, but it is a faithful witness. Tonio believes about 10 of
Tonio says the migrants who made it as far as Mexico City are the lucky ones. Violence is a regular occurrence on the journey north where migrants are seen as “merchandise to be sold” as cheap labor, mules for the drug trade, forced into prostitution or their bodies’ organs harvested to sell.
Tonio says, if it wasn’t for the humanitarian network that Casa and MCC represent in the country, this would be even larger humanitarian disaster.
Mexico is a country with one of the highest levels of corruption in the world. Communities organize themselves to live off the migration traffic. Both Mexico and the U.S. have learned how to benefit from the corruption. And the Mexican mafia also preys on the people fleeing north from violence or for economic or political reasons.
We met with a group of Mexico City pastors from Anabaptist denominations who tell us about the increasing violence around them, largely, they believe, because of the demand for drugs in the United States. They see the political corruption and the human trafficking effecting their communities. “We have a tremendous challenge,” one leader tells us.
We are realizing, says one leader, that being a church of peace is not about being like our neighbors or how big our church is, but about how much we are sharing ourselves and sharing our food with people in need.
The Prophet Zechariah imagined a day when small beginnings would bring about the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem. May we also imagine a day when our efforts will bear much fruit in communities and in peoples’ lives all over the world.
Ron Byler is executive director of MCC U.S.