Tuesday, September 12, 2017

GOING TO PRISON IN MEXICO



IF THERE IS SOMETHING THAT GETS ME EXCITED AND NERVOUS AT THE SAME TIME it's visiting a prison in Mexico.  I did jail ministry in Arkansas for years before coming as a missionary to Juarez, Mexico.  But walking into a prison is Mexico is a whole lot different.  The people who work at the prisons look at you as if they want to keep you there, and many times they make it very difficult to get inside (even after you've done all that they require to get permission to enter).  I have visited the prison in Juarez many times and I have been to other prisons, including a large one in Durango, Durango, Mexico.  In this blog entry I want to share with you my most recent visit to a prison and a couple of re-hab centers in the City of Cuautemoc.

In my last blog entry I wrote the amazing story of Pastor Martin Nuñez and his experience as an inmate, becoming a child of God, and his ministries after his release.  Pastor Nuñez started a group of men and women that are ex-prisoners, who are on fire for Jesus, and want to preach to and reach the lost in prisons.  They call themselves EXPRISIONEROS TRANSFORMADOS, or TRANSFORMED EX-PRISONERS. There are many of them in the group but generally 10 to 15 travel together to the prisons in various States.  It is with this group of men and women that I have been visiting the prisons.  When we travel far from Juarez we're at the mercy of others for our room and board.  In the past I've slept on the floor under a bed that someone else was occupying while staring at roaches going past me and hoping that a scorpion would not show up.  We've eaten freezer-damaged food and shared restrooms and showers that most people would not dare to use.  A motel bill is definitely out of the question.    Being with this team is a very unique, interesting, fun, and sometimes odd experience since I am the only one in this "motley crew" who has never experienced life in prison.  But they are a precious bunch who will forever be unconditionally thankful for Jesus and where He has brought them from; and they are not ashamed of His holy name.  All of them have come from a background of drugs and alcohol.  Most of them have committed murder.  One of them was able to escape from prison several times, an incredible feat.  Two of them (a married couple since before their prison life) lived by robbing people in the streets of the city.  The wife was the one who handled the knife.  They would make their victims get inside a dark alley and then they would take their money.  But always, even after they had the money, the wife would sink the knife into the victim.  Her husband would always plead with her not to do that since they already had the money, but his wife's hatred and anger could not let them go without a knife wound.  She testifies that she enjoyed doing it.  And today they are part of this group of ex-prisoners who they enjoy sharing the gospel so much with prisoners that they wish that they still lived in prison.  Each one of the members of this group has a jaw-dropping testimony about the liberating power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The prisoners can identify with them a whole lot more than if it was a group of people who had never been down the same road that they have traveled.  Therefore we always get all of the prisoners' undivided attention.  Normally when we minister each member of the team takes about 10 minutes to share their personal story with the prisoners.  My part is to close with a short Bible  teaching and give the invitation to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  And the results have always been amazing.

Cuautemoc, Mexico is a city about 5 to 6 hours from Juarez.  It is much different than Juarez in that it is not in the desert.  Cuautemoc has fertile soil and it is famous for its apple orchards.  Commerce is alive and well in this city, but it faces the same problems of crime and drugs as any other city in Mexico.  Our trip there was only for two days, and due to extremely bad roads we arrived in Cuautemoc just in time to head straight to the prison.  Of course, when we arrived they came up with excuses as to why we could not come in but persistence paid off.  An hour later (at 3 pm on a Thursday) our team of about 15 people was setting up next to the basketball court under the hot sun.  The health kits that we brought with soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, deodorant and other items had to be left at the front desk.  The prisoners began to gather but most stayed away from the benches that the guards allowed us to move to the middle of the court.  I had time to speak to several of the inmates and asked them about a popular boxing match that was coming up soon. That broke down some walls and brought some laughter and differences of opinions about the boxing event. There was a building next to us and as I glanced up each window had men looking down through the iron bars. 
 Other men came to listen but they stayed far from us.  We sang some worship music and then the testimonies started...which caused some men to listen up intently and some even got closer.  The warden also came to listen along with some guards.  We were given only two hours but by the time my turn came up a man walked up to me and said that our time was up.  I couldn't believe that after all that was said that and done I couldn't close with so much as a prayer.  But mercy came and I was given 8 more minutes.  I whispered a quick prayer for the Holy Spirit to help me wrap everything up in 8 minutes.  I had to hurry.  I shared a Bible verse and gave the invitational.  One man jumped up and practically ran up to me, then others followed.  Within 15 seconds we were mobbed by about 70 to 80 men who came to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  It was an incredible sight.  I turned the service over to Pastor Nuñez so that he could lead them in a prayer.  This prison does not have a church building but it has a pastor, who is one of the inmates.  He was a wonderful and meek young man in his mid-thirties.  He told us that in 15 years of groups coming to speak at that prison that no one had ever accepted Jesus after the service.  It was a very special experience, one that I will never forget.

After getting a bite to eat we went to a tent meeting in town and Pastor Nuñez preached and shared his testimony.  Most people attending were believers but they were all blessed.  That night the women stayed with the couple that was hosting us.  Their house was very tiny so they slept on the floor.  The men slept at a re-hab center.  At 5am the next day I was still wide awake because one of the men at the center, handcuffed to his bed, was going through severe withdrawals and he screamed most of the night.  The rest of the team slept quite well because they are all very used to sleepin.  In the morning we ministered to these men and left to join the women for breakfast.  

Then we headed out to our next project which was a re-hab center for people of all ages and both genders.  The youngest one there was a 9 year old boy and more than half the people looked to be teenagers.  This was not a Christian ministry, but something a bit similar to Alcoholic Anonymous.  We ministered the same way that we did in prison the day before.  The lady in charge of the center that particular day was standing up listening to all the different life-changing stories and she finally broke down in tears.  When the time for me to share came up I was given all the time that I needed but I was done within 15 minutes.  Once the invitational was given we had over 40 come to give their lives to the Lord.  Once the area began to fill up with kids and adults I just had to quietly step back and enjoy the scene for a few minutes.  The team was busy praying for individuals, some were hugging, some counseling, and many were shedding tears of peace and joy.  The lady in charge of the center on that day was right in the middle of it all.  I was taking time to thank the Lord for the power of the gospel and the power Holy Spirit not only to transform lives in such an amazing way, but to use those whose lives have been transformed to be used to transform the lives of others.  This is what being a believer is about...not only being transformed but being a transformer for Jesus.  It was another great and unforgettable experience.  We were then ready to get something to eat and return to Juarez on that same day.  All in the joy of the Lord.  

Our next trip outside of Juarez might be in the sierras of our State of Chihuahua where the native Indian people living there are being forced by the drug cartels to tend their fields of marijuana.  Who wouldn't want to go there?

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever  and ever. Amen.  1 Timothy 1:17 
A HOMELESS MAN, JOSE, VISITS THE TENT MEETING

Many thanks to those who continue to bless the work in Juarez financially and with their prayers.  The more support we have, the more we can do.  We continue to help feeding centers with food and other ministries in Juarez in any way that we can.  The gospel message is primary in this ministry.  Anyone wishing to help may contact me at the numbers below.  And please send in your comments and opinions to me.  I have a lot of people in Russia who read this blog and I would especially love to hear from you.  There are days that I have more readers from Russia than the U.S. 

Blessings to all. 

Daniel



Daniel Torres
12397 Chamberlain Drive
El Paso, Texas 79928

501-827-7679
d_torres53@yahoo.com

P.S. Click on the pictures to enlarge and for a list of past blog posts go to miraclesinjuarez.blogspot.com.

Monday, August 28, 2017

THE MOST AMAZING STORY OF DISASTER, HOPE, AND LOVE

PASTOR MARTIN AND HIS WIFE LETY...AUGUST 2017
This is a story that I wrote for Searcy Living magazine (Searcy, Arkansas) for their fall 2016 issue. I have written about Pastor Martin in the past but I felt that it was time to share this incredible story again. The story reads as follows:

I have been serving as a missionary in Juarez, Mexico for 5 years.  I came here from Searcy, Arkansas.  For several years the City of Juarez, Mexico was infamous for being the most dangerous city on the planet.  About 4 years ago I was in bed trying to sleep through the outside noise. A few times I found myself hitting the floor when I would hear bullets rocketing by just outside my bedroom window.  This particular sleepless night I decided to turn on the television set hoping that I would eventually fall asleep.  It was almost 1 am.  But something on the TV set caught my attention.  It was the story of a man who had lived a horrible life of drugs and crime, but now he serves the Lord as a Pastor.  I only caught the last few minutes of the story but it was the most amazing story I had ever heard.  But I did not get the man's name in the story.  I also did not know in what Spanish country this story had taken place.  For all I knew he was in Argentina, or maybe Spain.  But right there and then I uttered a serious prayer: "Lord, I don't know who that man was or where he's at, but someday I would love to meet him."  The next day I went to get a haircut. I was still very moved and impressed by the fragment of the story I had heard and I started to share it with those sitting around the barber shop. Immediately one of the men waiting  for a haircut said to me, "That man is my pastor. His name is Martin Nuñez."  I was shocked.  I said, "You mean to tell me that he lives here...here in Juarez?"  He responded,  "Yes, just a few blocks away, I'll take you there."  Incredible! Soon after  that I met Pastor Martin Nuñez (who lives about 10 blocks from my rental house), his wife Lety, his church, and the children and youngsters living with him.  Answered prayer!  And I also heard his full testimony.  Since that day Pastor Martin has been one of my dearest friends and a man that I love and admire as my own brother.  As amazing as his story is it only keeps growing.  Here is just part of the story from his own lips, as I translated for a team from the U.S. that visited here (his whole life story would take several books):


My life used to be practically a nightmare.  Something like a horror movie.  But it has a beautiful ending. When I was 2 years old my mother was a drug addict, as well as my father.  And one day something went wrong in my family and my 16 year old mother stabbed my father to death.  My mother was put in prison and she took me with her.  At the time there was a generational curse of drug abuse and prostitution in my family.  All my grandparents were drug addicts.  My uncles were in prison at the time and my mother and I joined them there. My uncles sold drugs in prison while they were inmates.  My mother continued to use drugs while in prison.  The guards would sell my mother to other inmates and eventually I had three more brothers born in prison, all from unknown fathers.  As a toddler I would watch my mom as she used rags with glue to get high.  At the age of 7 or 8 years old I started doing the same thing out of curiosity (after my mother would pass out from sniffing). When she carelessly left pills around I would also consume them. I had the run of the prison since I was so small and as a result my uncles and grandfather used me as a drug runner, selling drugs from cell to cell and returning with the money.  I became know as "El Gatito" (the kitten) throughout the prison.  I would look at the walls and the bars and ask my mother if we will ever get out.  She reassured me that we would.  When we were released I was 11 years old.  We were a dysfunctional family, delinquents, and we had no schooling. At 11 years old I did not know how to read or write.  I had no one to show me the right way, no one to look up to.  Immediately after being released my mother took us to our grandmother's house, dropped us of, and abandoned us to continue her life of drugs.  Poverty gave us no other choice but to hit the streets and survive through robbery and burglary.  Our grandmother, also on drugs, was pleased when we boys brought back stolen goods.  By the time I was 16 I had been back to juvenile detention about 16 to 17 times.  At the age of 16, after being charged with car theft, a judge sentenced me as an adult because of my many crimes.  So I went to prison as an adult.  When I entered the prison I felt right at home.  This was where my brothers were born and this was where I was raised.  I began using more drugs in prison.  

After I met with the judge again she asked me if I had learned my lesson. I told her that she didn't realized what she had done.  She had opened me to a bigger world of drugs and crime while at the adult prison system.  I was released but I really wanted to stay because that was home for me.  I was back in prison a few more times.  At the age of 19 I'm headed back to jail but this time it was for the stabbing murder of another young man.  It was my first murder.  I almost decapitated  the young man with a knife.  Now I was an adult and I started another phase of my nightmare. This time I went to Federal Prison.  The maximum sentence for my crime was 39 to 40 years.  The night of the murder I came home and to my surprise my mother had returned.  She asked me not to leave the house and to stay in bed.  When she fell asleep I left anyway and just a half a block away I killed a young man.  When the police caught up to me I remembered what my mom had told me - to stay home.  Had I obeyed her the crime would not have been committed.  In prison all my gang members were there and we started to tattoo our bodies. 

My life was empty and meaningless. I was 20 years old and I was tired of life. My father was dead and there was no hope for me in life anymore.  The emptiness was more that I could bear.  The emptiness led me to stab others in hopes that they would kill me first.  I wanted to die; I sought death. I once was stabbed to the point where I had to use a bed pan for six months and was left practically paralyzed. I wanted to escape life. Eventually I was able to walk again using crutches. I attempted suicide several other times.  But I couldn't even do that right. The doctors would always fix me up. Even cutting my veins did not work. Cutting my jugular veins did not work either. The doctors brought me back to life over and over again.  Eventually they tied me up so that I could not attempt suicide anymore.  

One day when when I was leaving the infirmary a man call out to me and said, "Gatito, Jesus loves you and He wants to change your life."  I got real angry when I heard that.  I thought how can anyone love me after the life I've had.  Later after that some family members came to inform me that my mother was dead due to a drug overdose.  I remembered my father, my life, and now my mom...how can I be loved. That's impossible, I said. I told that man in a rage of anger  to live his own life and I'll live mine.  I basically told him to get lost. Later I found out that he was a minister. I was given permission to leave prison to attend my mother's funeral.  When we went to the funeral I was escorted by a security officer.  I was handcuffed to him and he kept warning me not to try anything as he kept the other hand on his revolver. I remember doing drugs together with my mother while in jail, and how she brought me drugs when I was in jail, and now it was hard to believe that she was dead and inside a box. I hugged the box and the impact of the sight brought out some rare tears. Right there I promised her that I would change, though I knew that she could not hear me. My younger brothers were there and they hugged me. They were present when she died of an overdose. We cried together for the first time. Life was worse in prison now. I wanted to die even more.  Life meant nothing to me.  Death was better. 

I was taken back to prison and once again tried suicide.  But the words I had heard from that man that Jesus loved me and that I had hope kept echoing in my head.  I would try to silence that voice by covering my head and ears with my pillow but the words still penetrated through.  Over and over and over again those words haunted me.  My next attempt at suicide was to hang myself.  I had part of the sheets tied to a pipe above the sink in the cell.  I climbed up on the sink and stood on it. But those words would not leave me alone. I stepped back down and asked permission to be taken to the patio.  And I wanted to talk to the man who told me that Jesus loved me; I wanted to ask forgiveness for having been so rude to him.  

He was brought to me and I asked him for forgiveness. He graciously took me into a cell and before long I was on my knees receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I felt so filthy that I had to go immediately and take a shower. In the shower I had a supernatural encounter with Jesus and I have never been the same. The old me went down the drain with the filth. That was 18 years ago. My life was changed forever. I met men and women in jail who loved the Lord.  And they also loved ME!!!  I only went through 8 days of withdrawals after a whole life of drugs. My miracle was so deep that within three months I was preaching the gospel.  

NOTE: And so ends the story from Pastor Martin's lips. I had recorded this testimony as I was translating for him. For lack of time he cut out many things from his testimony. But I want to fill in some of those things that he left out that to me are very important, impressive, and miraculous.  Pastor Martin's life changed so much that he started a church in the jail and he became the pastor. His church would blossom to over 500 inmates. It was during this time that he learned how to read and write. He also got permission from the authorities to erect the church building inside the prison from funds he received from the outside. That church still stands today and I've had the pleasure to speak there. It was an unforgettable experience. It was at this church that he met his wife, Lety, who was also serving time for selling drugs.  She operated what is called a "picadero" (where addicts come to buy drugs, but are also given a small room to spend the night).  He asked for permission and they were married in his church at the prison. He was also pardoned from the remainder his 40 year sentence. Martin and Lety were released and they returned to Lety's "picadero", only this time to start a church there. And they also started picking up children from the streets of Juarez. These children had been abandoned and were on drugs and/or alcohol. Luis was one of the first ones picked up.  Luis was just a little over 7 years old and on cocaine.  He had been thrown out like yesterday's garbage by his family.  Today Luis is almost 22.  He is an outstanding preacher and musician and he is attending law school, specializing in juvenile law because he wants to help children going through what he went through. Sarita is 4 years old now. She was dropped off by her mom, who was a cocaine addict. She left Sarita two years ago and never returned.  The most recent member of the family is Emanuel, who is now 3 months old. He was dropped off a month ago.  Pastor Martin and his wife Lety are now the legal parents of Luis, Sarita, Emanuel, and 19 others. Their children are the musicians and worship leaders at their church sevices.  

When Pastor Martin was sharing the above testimony his wife Lety was sitting in the front row. I noticed that she cried more than anyone else in the room. I knew that she had heard that story a multitude of times.  But she cried because she can't forget and doesn't want to forget where God has brought them from and how their lives were changed by a simple "Jesus loves you..."
Pastor Martin and Lety struggle to keep these kids and young adults clothed, in school, fed, and all the other things that come with raising a child, especially ones that have such a sad past.  Anyone wanting to help, to come to Juarez for a visit or on a missions trip, or assist Pastor Martin with much needed maintenance work at his church and orphanage please call me or write me at the number below.  I also wish to bring Pastor Martin to churches in the U.S., including Puerto Rico. Any pastors interested in having him visit your church please contact me.  

And remember,  Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life.  There's hope in Jesus!


Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV)


Now back to August 2017:

Last week Pastor Martin and a group of his many ex-prisoners along with myself drove several hours to visit another troubled city in Mexico. We ministered at re-hab centers and also the city jail. That story will be on the next blog entry. After returning to Juarez, Mexico I visited Pastor Martin the very next day. He said to me very proudly and with a huge smile, "Come here, I have something to show you." He proceeded to introduce me to a 7 year old boy, a 9 year old girl, and another 11 year old girl. They were siblings and they had just joined the Martin family. The 11 year old girl was already sexually abused by her father. They were out in the streets with all their belongings inside backpacks. As terrible as it sounds it's a good thing that they arrived at a place where hope and love thrives. Where there's real love, there's great hope. 


Daniel Torres
12397 Chamberlain Dr.
El Paso, Texas 79928
501-827-7679
d_torres53@yahoo.com


Please send me your comments below or at the information above. And please share this story because others need to read it. Thanks for all your prayers for this ministry. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

WHEN YOUR WORLD CRUMBLES DOWN TO ASHES...


I feel that I need to share a story that I wrote back in 2010.  Our missions team from Searcy, Arkansas made regular trips to Juarez, Mexico.  I imagine that for all of us the trips were the highlight of the year.  At that time I knew that the Lord had called me into full time missionary work but I was just waiting on God's perfect timing. And within one year of writing this story I was on my way to full time work in Juarez.  Someone that you know personally needs to read this story...please share it with them.  But before you do, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help them to receive this message.  

(P.S. Special thanks to my daughter Melissa M. Torres who saved this story because I had lost it from my files.)






The house is totally engulfed in flames. There is no one to help put the fire out, and no sign of any incoming assistance. Even if help was available, it would be too late. Much too late!! The structure is barely still standing but the fire's hunger rages on. The huge flames are shooting out of every door and window. Within seconds the entire house crumbles to the ground even as the crackling, popping, and the heat from the dry, burning wood seems to intensify. Shock continues to set in deep. Deeper...deeper. Hopelessness has long emerged. More questions arise. Answers are being devoured along with what used to be. Visions of memories, old and recent, run through the mind. The tears and lament cannot be stopped. The pain is beyond words. Every single thing that she ever treasured and loved was in the house. The knees are giving way. "Someone please stop this world from spinning. I must get off. Please, God, please!!" After hours of stillness and staring, the only thing left are the ashes. What once was the greatest of treasures has been quickly reduced to worthless ashes.  Just...ashes.  Ashes and the occasional burst of smoke that quickly dissipates into the atmosphere.  Eventually, as the monster fire dies out, even the great light that came from it gives way and it gradually begins to get dark. Until darkness becomes your new enemy and you feel as if your life has faded away with the light. What went wrong? What could have been done differently? Why? God, why...me?  

As heart wrenching as this sounds, it gets worst. The picture that I just drew for you is not that of a house. It is a picture of life. Life gone totally and completely wrong. All of the sudden life throws you a curve...and another one...and another one. Then, in a matter what appears to be minutes you find yourself sitting in a heap of ashes.  Everything that you ever worked for, possessed and dreamed about has gone up in smoke. I am not referring to material things. There are more important things, although material things may be part of the huge loss. And now, there is nothing left. Nothing, except the pain... and the ashes.  You have joined ranks with Job (Job 2:8). Have you been there?  
The enemy of your soul has come to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), and if he could speak to you, he would be very proud of his accomplishment.

What if I told you that I know of a place where this picture has been repeated over and over again? I know of many young girls, most of them barely teenagers, which have already experienced this picture in their lives. They have already sat on the ash heap of life. I am so very glad to report that with the help of Jesus, they are rising up and walking towards a new life. I was there recently. Let me share that story.

The place is called Casa de Refugio de Jovencitas (House of Refuge for Young Girls). It is located in Juarez, Mexico, a city that has been plagued by murders, drugs, prostitution, and every imaginable evil known to man. It is called the most dangerous city in the Western Hemisphere. Federal troops patrol the city and the crime only escalates. Ministries have been shut down or have left. When I was there from January 1st to the 4th, I met a Pastor who told me that he was under a death watch by the drug cartels. He knows of 24 other Pastors who are in similar circumstances. I sensed the fear in his heart and did all I could to encourage him.

The House of Refuge currently houses 48 young girls. These girls have experienced drugs, abortions, violence, rebellion, and prostitution (in some cases they were put in that situation by their own families for financial reasons). Some of these girls are dragged in by the Department of Human Services and the Police, some are brought in by extended family members, a few realize that they need help and come by themselves, and others are brought in by orphanages who have given up on the child and no longer feel that they can handle them. The youngest one this time (I have been to the city and the Refuge 19 times) was 11 years old. She looked as if she was around 9 years old. The oldest one was 25. Most of them range in age from 13 to 17. You cannot come to this Refuge without feeling the pain and sense of loss for their innocence and youth. You cannot come to this Refuge without having your heart ripped out. Either one of these girls could be your sister, daughter, or even yourself at that age. You cannot come to this Refuge and not fall in love with their...smiles. 

And yes, many of them have experienced healing. Most are going through a healing process. You can hear their laughter again. When they first walk through the doors of the Refuge, there are no smiles. They go through an extensive six months of classes and spiritual training. Maricruz Rios, the Director, receives these girls with love and compassion. However, she knows what tough love is about, and she is not afraid to use it.  Many times I have heard Maricruz crying out to God for these girls. Some girls choose to not leave after the six months. Tabitha has been there for six years. They choose to stay within the confines of the Refuge to help with the untold number of girls who come through every year. The Refuge is a lighthouse in the midst of destruction, chaos, confusion, and... ashes. For every single young girl in the Refuge, there are an untold number of girls in the streets. It is estimated that there are 15,000 youth living in the streets of Juarez.

When we hear the life stories that these young girls share with us it is impossible to not be touched. I met the oldest one last summer. At one time she was in prison. While she was there, her little boy was sexually molested by a male relative. She also has a 2-year-old daughter, who is partially responsible for her mom coming to the Refuge. Last year while the little girl saw her mom injecting drugs into her veins, she put her little arm out asking her mom for a dose of the drug. It was then that the mom decided that she had to do something for her sake and for the sake and her children. She received help to come to the Refuge and her life has been transformed.

While I was there at the onset of 2010, I shared with the girls a message. The scripture text was as follows:  The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God. To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61: 1-3).

It was then that I gave them the picture of the house that I painted for you at the start of this story. I did not have to explain too hard the connection between the house and their lives. They easily saw it. I could see it in their sad faces and tears. I spoke about the negative things in the verse: the poor (not in a financial sense), the brokenhearted, the captives, the darkness, the prisoners, the mourning, the grieving, the ashes, and the spirit of despair. All these I explained in a spiritual sense. They knew what I was talking about. They had experienced these things. Then I explained the alternative: the good news, the binding up, the freedom, the releasing, the comforting, the provision, the crown of beauty, the oil of gladness, and the garment of praise.
  
I explained to them that it was with that verse that Jesus initiated His ministry. In Luke chapter 4, Jesus opened the scroll of Isaiah, read that verse, and sat down. The verse was about Him. He was the One who would take all the negatives in exchange for the positives. It was Jesus who said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls" (Matthew 11:28, 29).

There is always an exchange that takes place between us and Jesus. We give Him the negatives; He gives us the positives. In this case Jesus says, "give Me your ashes, and I'll give you a crown of beauty". Many times we refuse to give Him the ashes. We prefer to keep them as a memorial, a trophy to keep on our spiritual mantel to remind ourselves and to show the world that we have suffered. The ashes become the chip that we carry on our shoulders, the unforgiveness that we carry in our hearts, and the poison that destroys our spiritual man. But Jesus cannot release the crown of beauty into our lives until we extend our hands and release the death-grip that we have on our prized ashes.

I closed the message with an invitation to come to me at the front and offer their ashes to Jesus. As I looked up to the back of the room, even as I was not yet finished with the invitation, the 25-year-old, the oldest one, the one who had once been in jail, was making her way to the front. Within seconds the front was filled with young women, whose lives had been destroyed, offering their ashes to Jesus. The tears, the crying, and the wailing would tear your heart. We all cried together. One young one in particular found her way under my right arm, dug her face into my chest and cried profusely. She held me so tight that I had difficulty breathing. She left the tears on my shirt, but most importantly, she had unloaded her ashes into the hands of Jesus and healing had begun. I saw her as a rose bud that will soon develop into a beautiful flower; a life who would become a blessing for others to see.

Leaving the Refuge is always so hard. For years the girls have called me Uncle Daniel. We have a very special relationship although most of them I only get to see once or twice and then they move on to a new life. It is good to know that in a city as hard as this one is that there is, and always will be, lives that are being transformed from ashes into crowns beauty.

This was the message I gave those precious young women. This is the message I am leaving with you here in Main Street, America. You may be suffering as these girls have suffered. You may be facing divorce, lost of a loved one, drug problems, bankruptcy, serious health issues, or... just fill in the blank. Either way, you find yourself sitting on a heap of ashes and darkness is overtaking you. You need only to open your eyes and there is One before you with His hands stretched out. With love in His eyes and a big smile on His lips He speaks to you, "Give Me your ashes, and I'll give you beauty". His name is Jesus.




I just finished six years of serving the Lord in Juarez, Mexico.  And every Friday morning my wife Blanquita and I head to the girls refuge where we teach them the Word of God.  The joy that I felt when I visited the ministry years ago is even stronger today.  Currently there are from 45 to 50 young girls/women at the refuge.  Every Friday I am a witness to the transforming power of God.  I witness the new faces coming in with the ashes of anger, hatred, hearts and lives destroyed, hopelessness, rebellion, and despair.  And in a few weeks I witness the big smiles, new-found hope, healing, love...the glowing crown of beauty.

If anyone or a church group wishes to make a missions trip to Juarez, Mexico or to donate funds for use in Juarez you may contact me at the number below.  Please continue to pray for our work and safety in Juarez.  Also, please leave your comments below. Blessings to all.


Maranatha,

Daniel Torres
501-827-7679
d_torres53@yahoo.com 





Wednesday, July 26, 2017

GRIEVING FAMILIES RECEIVE HOPE AFTER THE DEATH OF THREE YOUNG GIRLS

    



    It has been a very long time since my last blog entry...and a lot of great things continue to happen in Juarez, Mexico.  Next week will mark my six years as a full-time missionary in this very needy land.  When I arrived here six years ago Juarez was known as the murder capital of the world.  Today things are not as bad as they used to be but we still have a long way to go.  Crime and corruption still head up the list of evils.  After almost seven full months of 2017 the death toll by murder is just over 400.  A few years ago the yearly murder rate was just over 3,000.  As long as the huge demand for illegal drugs in the U.S. continues the war for the production and transportation of these drugs will continue with the drug cartels.  

CHURCH SERVICE FOR FAMILIES AT PUERTO ANAPRA
In this blog entry I want to share the story of a recent horrible accident that occurred in the community of Juarez called Puerto Anapra.  Puerto Anapra is infamous in Juarez for being a community that is very dangerous due to the murder rate being much higher than in any other community in Juarez; as well as the mysterious disappearance of hundreds and hundreds of young girls and women over the years.  There are several ministries in Puerto Anapra that I have visited over the years.  I have also brought ministry teams from the U.S. to this community but we always made it a point to be out of there by sundown.  As with most communities in Juarez the people here are very poor and live in very humble situations.  I often think about the children who are raised in these communities who see this lifestyle as normal.  Many have not been anywhere else and they have no idea that life can be very different in many other places.

TREES BEING PLANTED
Just over a month ago on a dirt road and up on a hill in Puerto Anapra many young kids, ages 8 to 12, gathered to visit as was the custom every evening as the temperatures became more bearable.  Normally as many as 15 to 20 young kids would gather in one little spot on a sidewalk; but some of them had been punished by their parents and they were not allowed to attend the nightly visits.  The sidewalk had a large square opening that perhaps was created to occupy a very large tree that once grew there.  It was usually the girls who sat in the square opening (about 2 feet deep), and the others sat on the sidewalk or stood up.  About eight girls could sit inside the square very comfortably.  The street in front of this spot formed a "T", where any vehicle coming towards them would have to turn right or left.  At about 100 feet from the kids, just directly up the street, there is a tiny neighborhood store.  A man in his sixties walked out of the store and got in his pick-up truck.  The man was very drunk.  He stepped on the gas petal but since the truck only moved back he floored the gas petal.  He did not know that he had the transmission in reverse.  The truck headed straight towards the kids like a bullet reaching a target.  
MELISSA'S MOM (LEFT)
The kids saw the truck coming but they had only a few very precious seconds to jump out of the way.  Some kids pushed others out of the way.  The pick-up came at them so fast  that it jumped the curb in front of them, hit several kids, crushed some of them between the rear of the pick-up and a concrete block wall just behind them, tore down the concrete block wall, knocked down a large tree just behind the wall, and some of the kids ended up about 50 feet from where they were visiting.  Immediately there were two girls dead.  Another girl's leg was crushed so severely that the hospital had to amputate it, but she died soon after.  An 8 year old boy's abdomen was cut open as the vehicle tires ran over him and his intestines spilled out. He was taken to the hospital and is miraculously alive today.  Other children suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.  Within seconds the street filled up with parents  and neighbors.  The drunk driver barely escaped with his life.  The police arrived just as the neighbors had decided to take justice into their own hands.  He is now in jail.  The total death toll came to three girls, ages 10 to 12.

EVELIN'S SISTER WITH A LEG INJURY
I first heard about this incident over the Juarez nightly news about three days after it happened.  That night I could not fall asleep as the visions of the event filled my mind.  My heart hurt for these people and my tears would not stop.  I thought about my own three daughters.  I thought about the grief that these families were facing and all the emotions that come with all that.  I asked the Lord to help the families and the neighbors, and friends of the deceased.  

EVELIN'S MOM (RIGHT)
But the Lord wanted me to get involved.  Right there on my bed the Spirit spoke to me in my heart and told me to find these families, reach out to them, comfort them in His name.  I told the Lord that I knew Puerto Anapra and that it was quite large.  How would I go about finding this street and families?  And the Lord spoke back to me again.  He told me to go down the main road in Puerto Anapra, turn right into the main grocery store, and on the left side there would be a guard.  I was to ask him and he would tell me exactly where to go.  (This reminded me of Acts chapter 10 where an angel tells Cornelius where to find Peter.)  

The next day my wife and I were on our way.  I turned right into the main grocery store in Puerto Anapra and right there on the left was a friendly guard who gladly and precisely told me how to get there.  Amazing!  We arrived at the location of the accident; I immediately recognized the wall that had been destroyed by the pick-up truck.  The wall was now under reconstruction.  There was a lady crossing the street and I stopped her for more information.  Maria was a Christian woman and knew the families very well.  But everyone had gone out to the cemetery when we arrived.  Maria gave me more information about the three families and we also exchanged phone numbers.  I was especially surprised to hear that no one in the three families was a Christian and that the services for the 3 girls were done in the front yard of one of their houses.  A neighbor who was a Christian said something at the parting ceremony in front of the house, but no pastor came to deliver an eulogy.  Maria became our contact with the families and within a few days one of the families agreed to have us pay them a visit at home.

NEIGHBORS BEGIN TO GATHER FOR THE TREE CEREMONY
    I had absolutely no idea what I could say to anyone who had suffered such a terrible loss.  I only trusted that the Holy Spirit would guide me.  And of course, He did.  We had a wonderful visit with the family and later a young man was asked to go and bring some other family members of the girls involved in the accident.  They were all very, very kind.  It was through them and especially Belen, a 12 year old girl who had suffered a deep cut to her left foot in the accident, that I received most of the details about the accident.  Belen, with a very sweet voice and with many tears, described the accident to me.  They even took us outside where the accident occurred to describe to us the exact events.  But even in their friendly ways they shed many tears as they spoke of the events.  My wife Blanquita and I tried to comfort them as much as we knew how with the help of the Spirit and we gathered around for prayer before we left.  It was a great visit.  I also wanted to find a church nearby that would allow me to have a special service for the families.  Maria's church was nearby and after visiting her Pastor he allowed me to use his church.  The families had already agreed with me that they would like to have a special service.  

SQUARE OPENING ON SIDEWALK
WALL HAS BEEN RECONSTRUCTED BUT NOT PAINTED
We held the special service last Saturday.  I had never done that kind of service before.  I had prepared a message of comfort, the love of God, and also forgiveness.  Many more tears were shed.  
A few days before the service I had gone out and purchased three trees to plant after the service in memory of each girl: Pamela, Melissa, and Evelin.  So right after the church service we headed back to scene of the accident to plant the trees.  Previously I asked the families if they wanted the trees planted at each home or at the scene of the accident; they chose the scene of the accident.  Men from each family prepared the ground for each tree.  The trees were quite tall; each about 9 feet tall or more.  As they began with the shovels more and more neighbors came out to observe.  We planted the trees and each family wanted pictures of themselves by "their" tree.  It was a very moving experience.  I know that each one of the little things that were done and each drop of tear that was shed brought each family member a little bit more healing.  I also gave each family a gift bag containing a Bible, some gospel tracts, and a movie called GRACE CARD (about the accidental death of a little boy and the years that the father lived in remorse and unforgiveness until Christ came into his heart).  We visited with the families there on the dirt road and again tried to comfort them.  More hugs and handshakes were shared and of course more tears.  

NEIGHBORHOOD KIDS THAT I PLAYED
FRISBEE WITH JUST A FEW HOUSES
FROM THE ACCIDENT
MY FAVORITE PICTURE. THE SMILE ON
THE FACE OF PAMELA'S MOM
AFTER THE EVENTS.
Blanquita and I left knowing that we had done a few things but our work with this community was not over.  When the men finished planting the trees one of the men opened up to us and spoke to us about what he felt in his heart.  He said that knew that he needed God.  In a society where machismo (manhood) is so overpowering, it was a huge thing for any man to confess this.  We told them that we would be back soon.  And some of the family members said that they wanted to invite us over for dinner.  

There is a time to plant and there is a time to sow.  You can't sow where no one has planted.  Christians or not these families needed someone to reach out to them and I have felt very honored that the Lord chose us to meet these hurting families.  They're all very precious and they need God's love in their lives.  I am also very glad that the Lord opened up their hearts to receive us as wonderfully as they did.  Someday, hopefully soon, the many seeds planted here will be harvested; and the harvest will be great!  When God shows you a need it's an invitation from Him to act.  We live in a hurting world and people are hurting everywhere.  Don't ignore the hurting people around you; just open your eyes and your heart.  We're called to be Jesus to this world.  



Many, many thanks to all those who have supported the work in Juarez, Mexico for these past six years.  It's been a wonderful journey.  And now that the Lord has blessed me with a wonderful wife the journey is richer.  

This ministry still needs more support so please contact me if you want to be part of reaching Juarez, Mexico for the Lord.  In the future I know that the Lord will be sending me to other nations to minister there as well.  There are many, many feeding centers and ministries in Juarez that are in dire need of help.  Right now we help several but we are not able to help the many that ask for help.  Also please write your comments on the comment section below; I would love to hear from you.  You may also call me or write.  Blessings to all.

Maranatha

Daniel Torres
501-827-7679
d_torres53@yahoo.com

P.S. Click on pictures for a better view.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

FATHER'S DAY EVENT...JUNE 2016...plus A CHEESY STORY

FATHER'S DAY CELEBRATION

Pastor Jim Ray
Jason and Amy Bowles
The first two full weeks of this month (June 2016) brought 2 teams to the area.  The first team was from the twin cities of Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota. They represented Valley Christian Church.  Pastor Jim Ray also traveled with the group of 13, most of which were the youth from the church.  The youth leaders, Jason and Amy Bowles did an outstanding job in leading the youth and doing months of preparation before arriving.  The team traveled for two days to get to El Paso and the opted to work their entire four days at Spanish American Evangelistic Ministries (SAEM).  

Some Valley Christian youth
Los Tres Amigos
They worked very hard around the SAEM campus doing some very much needed upkeep on the grounds.  They also worked inside the SAEM main building but most of the work was done outdoors.  Unfortunately the 100 degree temperatures showed up at the same time the team did.  They stayed busy from the time they got out of bed til the time they went back to bed.  But we also had times of devotionals, worship, sharing, lots of eating, and we also made a trip to El Paso's Scenic Drive Park. At the park the team took advantage of the not-so-hot evening and the beautiful view to sing worship music before all those visitors who were also enjoying the nice evening.  SAEM was left in great shaped after the team departed on their long two day trek back North.  Thank You Valley Christian!!!
The team from Valley Christian left on a Friday and the next day a small team of two men from Searcy, Arkansas flew down for a six day stay at SAEM, with daily trips to Juarez.  Mike Lee and Mike Lorton have worked with me in Juarez many times and they are now seasoned part-time missionaries.  
Before Mike Lee and Mike Lorton arrived there were two problems that I was trying to work through.  One was the the issue of Father's Day in Juarez  (one of the hardest things that you can do in Juarez is to get men to come to church).  And the second issue was the huge amount of used clothing that has been donated to SAEM over the years, which can't be crossed into Mexico because the government won't allow it.  So I decided to kill two birds with one stone.  I made up my mind to take all the men's clothing and start washing, folding, and packing, and crossing them into Juarez just a little bit at a time.  I was washing clothes for over a month.  And by the time the two men arrived most of the clothes were waiting in my house in Juarez.  Then I planned a Father's Day get together with a great meal at Pastor Manuel's church in Juarez.  When Mike and Mike arrived we finished the plans off by purchasing food and bringing it to the church.  We also took time to separate the clothing (pants, shirts, polo shirts, tee shirts, baseball caps, etc.) by sizes.  And we also took a day out to walk through the neighborhoods going door to door and inviting all the men to the celebration and free clothing.  Many said that they would come, but that's something I have heard before, but it didn't happen.  I did a lot of praying asking God to send the men out to this event.  Unfortunately, we did not attend the Father's Day celebration because I had to drive Mike and Mike back to Arkansas before the event took place.  I had left everything else in the hands of Pastor Manuel and his wife Lolis, who claim to be my adopted parents (even though they are younger than I).  Needless to say I was so very pleased and thankful to the Lord when the reports started coming in about the Father's Day event.  Many men had come, some with their wives.  And about a dozen or more gave their lives to the Lord Jesus.  And...they each carried back home plenty of clothes.  I was ecstatic about the reports and the pictures.  
All the praying done for the event, all the washing, all the preparations, all the visiting had paid off.  God was so faithful again.  There was one man in particular whom we visited and prayed for that I regretted not being in Juarez for to bring him to the event personally.  His name is Jose and he had a stroke many years ago.  He is mostly paralyzed and the only part of his body that he can use is just his left hand. He is barely over 50 years old.   He lives with his daughter, who is the one who feeds him, bathes him, and takes care of all his necessities. But she has to work.  So every morning when she leaves for work she pushes his wheelchair over the threshold of the front door where he sits without being able to move until she returns from work.  Jose can be  
seen on the very top picture in a wheelchair.   Jose is a Mexican-American and has rights to Social Security in the U.S. But Jose's brother stole his American citizen paperwork and is living in the U.S. pretending to be Jose.  Jose hasn't heard from him in years.  I wanted to be there to bring Jose to the Father's Day event but couldn't.  But Jose finally found someone to "throw" him in back of a pick-up and he was able to come and enjoy the evening with the other men.   I was thrilled to know that Jose made it along with a church full of men.  What a joy!!!  My "mom" Lolis fixed them a good salad, chicken spaghetti with alfredo  sauce, tea, and ice cream cones.  And I'm sure that she sneaked in some jalapenos in there somewhere. 
Emanuel
I also wanted to report that Pastor Martin Nuñez, whom I've reported on before, has a new addition in his orphanage.  Pastor Martin has been getting kids off the streets of Juarez for some years now.  These are very young kids who are hooked on drugs and live in the streets.  His new addition is Little Emanuel, 2 months old, who was birthed by a young mom on cocaine.  The child will go through regular drug withdrawals, but if anyone knows how to handle that it's Pastor Martin and his wife Letty.  If anyone wishes to help Pastor Martin, his church, and his orphanage, please contact me.

And now for the cheesy story:  One day Mike Lorton, Mike Lee, and myself went to the wholesale area of Juarez to purchase food for the men's event.  After we left the Holy Spirit asked me to return and buy a wheel of cheese for one of the nursing homes (see last blog entry).  So I told my two companions that we had to turn around and go back.  I bought the wheel of cheese which came out to about 17 to 18 pounds.  We drove to the "old folks" home, greeted them, and set the wheel of cheese on one of the kitchen tables.  I set it right next to a small piece of cheese (about 1 1/2 pounds) that was on the table.  Viridiana, one of the directors froze and kept staring at the cheese that I brought.  And she kept staring at the cheese! Until finally I started thinking that I had done something wrong and had to ask if I did.  Then one by one tears started to roll from her eyes.  The lady cooking for them just smiled at us.  Finally Miguel, Viridiana's husband and director, explained it to me.  He said that in the morning they decided to make quesadillas for the 32 people who were at the center.  So they took all the money they had and went to the store to get cheese.  Miguel had returned with the small piece of cheese that was on the table.  So the cook asked, "so you want me to make quesadillas with that little piece of cheese"?  Miguel responded, "At least we can say that it has cheese in it".  And Viridiana added, "God will multiply it!".  And then 5 minutes later...I walk in with the large wheel of cheese. God had provided as He always done.  When Viridiana was able to speak she told me, "It's not just about the cheese; it's God letting us know that He watches us, that He cares for us, and that  He knows that we're here".  Yes, God knows where you are, He watches over you, and He cares for you.  Shalom!!!

Please leave comments below. I would like to hear from you. 

*Double-click on pictures to enlarge.


Daniel Torres
650 Linwood Drive
El Paso, Texas 79928

d_torres53@yahoo.com
501-827-7679

For tax receipts send contributions to:
Covenant Fellowship Church
P.O. Box 8126
Searcy, Arkansas 72145