Thursday, August 3, 2017


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,  

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.


Daniel Torres

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