Friday, March 28, 2014

In Loving Memory of “Pedrito”

Three days ago I posted a link to my article in the latest issue of the official magazine of Mennonite Church USA called The Mennonite. The article was about Pedro, a man I met during a visit to his church in Mexico City. It was titled “A New Creation.”

The way several friends from the church in Mexico responded to my article, I suspected that something was amiss. Sure enough, when I inquired, my brother in Christ, whom they affectionately called “Pedrito,” had died. They assumed that I had written the article in tribute to him because of his death. 

As a matter of fact, the story took place more that four years ago while I was leading a group of 18 students from Eastern Mennonite University on a semester-long trip through Guatemala and Mexico. I wrote the story about a year ago, and submitted it for publication shortly thereafter. It took that long to be published. 

There is a resurrection theme in the article, so I figured it would appear in the issue of the magazine closest to Easter. That indeed turned out to be the case. The coincidence of my article appearing near the time of Pedro’s death makes the message of the article even more powerful. Pedro’s life as a drug addict was transformed by the power of Christ when all other attempts at rehabilitation had failed. I describe it this way in the final paragraph of the article:

Our final church service together was Easter Sunday. During that service, we circulated around all the members of the church greeting them with the phrase, “Christ is risen,” to which the other responded, “He is risen indeed.” When I came to Pedro and looked him directly in his eyes, an emotion came over me, and I said to him, “Christ is risen, and I see him in your face.” This was the same face that I had rejected just a few days earlier. Without hesitation, he replied, “Yes, I was dead and now I am alive. I have risen from the dead like Christ.” I could not hold back the tears as I hugged him. Pedro was a new creation. So was I.

I hadn’t seen Pedro for over four years. The success rate of people kicking the habit when addicted to the kind of drugs he was is very low—extremely low. My friends confirmed for me that he remained faithful to his commitment to Christ and was free of drugs until he died. Pedrito is now in a place where no one will judge him by who he was, how he looked, or what he did. His short life touched me powerfully—even if we were only together for a few days. 

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing Pedro into my life. He’s probably got English down pat now.

Pedro with his Spanish/English Bible

Pedro in the middle of a bunch of "Gringos"

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