This last weekend, we had the privilege of hosting MAEM (Ministering to the Abused and Exploited in Mexico) representatives from different parts of Mexico here in Oaxaca for our first-ever national planning retreat. Up until now, we have been organized to serve mostly at a regional level, but as MAEM grows, we desire to define together that which is essential and the frame of reference for our ministry, even as the activities vary and are contextualized to each of the groups we serve.
We started our time reflecting on one of MAEM’s core values:
We encourage and model a leadership of service and participation in accordance with the model of Jesus.
To help us enter into a deeper understanding of what this means for us as a team and for us as leaders of MAEM, we studied and entered into a time of imaginative prayer around John’s recounting of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet on Maundy Thursday (John 13:1-17) , the night before he was betrayed. What we discovered was Jesus’s immense love for us as he, in our imaginations, washed our own feet, but also his invitation to us in his concluding words at the table…
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
And so, we entered into a time of prayer and symbolic service as we washed each others’ feet.
The Holy Spirit was at work as the love of God showered down upon us. This simple act of humble service and love brought transformation and healing to many of us.
We know that denying ourselves, considering others as more important or taking the position of a servant is not easy, but we look to our Friend and Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, as our model and as our strength, so that we may choose love above all other things. As we walked around in the town square, the zocalo, later that night, we saw many vendors selling crosses, flowers and other decorations made out of palms for Palm Sunday and Holy Week, and I was again reminded that love is at the center of it all as Jesus said that same night.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
We ended our devotional time with a song by Santiago Benavides called Nada Me Vale, which is based on 1 Corinthians 13 and talks about how we can speak for God, give all that we have, have all the knowledge or faith to moves mountains, but without love, it isn’t worth anything.
This opening time together reflected the spirit of our planning meetings over the next two days. I was touched over and over at the displays of kindness, love, acceptance, encouragement, service, and forgiveness shown through the weekend. I am hopeful and encouraged as I witness the fruit of the Spirit in this team as together we seek to accompany those who have been beaten up and trampled on by abuse, exploitation and violence. May God’s Spirit continue to protect our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as we are sent out into the world as peacemakers.