Mario is our good friend in Philadelphia who helped us organize four shows in the area, three on Monday and one on Tuesday. He loves Jesus very much, but a short time ago he was a prominent drug dealer. God changed his heart and his occupation. He was so excited last night when we went back to one of the areas where he used to deal drugs. He said, “I used to push drugs in this place, now I’m pushing the Holy Spirit.” He has some significant health issues that would discourage most people, but nothing diminishes his joy in Jesus. He walks around saying, “HALLELUJAH!” He is wonderfully excited about how Jesus rescued him. Every time we arrived at a park, the children there saw him and would say, “Mr. Mario! Mr. Mario!” What do children say when they see you?
He partners with Pastor Andy Kim in reaching an area of inner-city Philadelphia for Jesus. He has long been our friend and has always been a blessing for us. Many different puppet teams have stood in Huntley Park and seen children come to faith in Jesus Christ. We had the same experience on Monday afternoon. Please pray for Andy and Mario and the work they are doing. Ask God to encourage them. Ask the Lord to raise up more leaders who will commit to working with them in this very difficult ministry.
Sincere is a little boy, around ten years old. He lives in a very hard place in Philadelphia. Last night, he helped me tell the story of Joseph by playing the part of Joseph. As soon as we finished the program, he came over to talk to me. He told me that he had asked Jesus to be his Savior and wanted to know where he could go to church. I immediately took him over to talk to our pastor friend. We also gave him a children’s Action Bible that we purchased with some of the funds you have generously sent. He was so happy! When we left, he had the Bible open and was already reading it.
It is such an honor to have the opportunity to share with children like Sincere. He came to the last show of the day, which we all agreed it was our favorite, because so many children and adults both came. We did this program in both Spanish and English with Billy translating just like he did in Mexico. We heard children praying in English and Spanish. Please continue to pray for these children. Please ask God to grow their faith and give them a desire to learn more about Jesus.
Three More Shows in Philly
We had three other opportunities to tell children about Jesus in Philly, two were in a park and one was in a church. We had asked another church to let us come and do a program for the children at their camp, but they said they did not do anything religious. We all found this very entertaining. I confess to you that I would not describe what we do as religious, but this was the church’s understanding.
All of the children who came to these programs were from areas where many homes are boarded up. Everywhere there is decay and trash and brokenness. The children regularly see drug deals and live in areas where prostitution is common. The police were all over the area because of its problems. There is so much darkness, but Jesus can bring light to this place. I kept thinking of the words to a favorite praise song, “He alone can rescue, He alone can save.” Only Jesus!
Over 400 Men
I am always surprised when we go to the Helping Up Mission and it works. This show is only men and they have all lived very hard lives. Some have prison records. Most have abused drugs and/or alcohol. They are either homeless or living at the shelter. The ones who have seen us before always come in the room with confidence that they will have a good time. The men who have never seen it before mumble and grumble and complain that they have to sit through a puppet show. I will admit that what we do would seem like an unlikely fit but by God’s grace, it always works.
Over 400 men smiled and laughed and clapped and some trusted in Jesus. It is always one of my favorite shows because it shows how big God is and how He really can do anything. We received so many thanks. I was hugged many times. God did something very sweet on Saturday night and we were all blessed and encouraged. Please pray for these men. I consider it an honor to spend time with them and share God’s rescue plan.
Tomorrow, we will arrive in West Virginia and do 2 days of programs in a small town called Richwood. This place is very depressed economically and in need of a rescue. Please pray for these dear people and ask the Lord to make us a blessing.
Linda for Kelsey, Mary, Drake, Billy, and Leslie