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30 Yards Away

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Recently I was in the town of Oxcum.  It was late Thursday afternoon; time for the mid-week ministry event.  Although open to anyone, it is primarily children and young people who attend.                                          

The tropical heat made the room almost insufferable for the 40 plus children and the few adults that were present, even though three fans were operating at full speed. 

The kids were much like kids in your church.  Some were quiet, respectful, ready to learn.  Others were having fun, talking, laughing, only getting quiet when rebuked.  They were just kids being kids.

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After the Bible study, we had two piñatas, one for the boys and another for the girls.  As I observed the kids having fun and eating their candy from the broken piñatas, I glanced over to the other side of the rock wall that bordered the lot where we have our ministry activity.

Thirty yards away, I could see a group of 4 men who had gathered under a large shade tree to engage in an activity that is repeated over and again in hundreds of villages across the Yucatan Peninsula.  It was an informal meeting place in that there were no buildings or furnishings - just rocks large enough to sit on, strategically placed in a circle under the shade tree.  

This crude gathering place is used every week as the men gather and drink.  The Yucatan Peninsula is a place where poverty abounds; yet in spite of the inadequate income for those who reside in these places, it is staggering how much money is spent on alcohol.

As it was Thursday, the group was small.  On Friday evenings the group of men is significantly larger.  Payday puts a few extra pesos in the pockets of men who cannot resist a temptation that robs their families of much needed finances. 

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It seems calm in this picture, but it almost always turns into a terrible scene by the time the alcohol takes effect.

For just a brief time, the drunken state of these enslaved souls seems to offer an escape from a life that offers so little.  It is a brief relief; however, once their intake of alcohol reaches a certain level, their drunkenness causes additional suffering to themselves and their families as well.

By Saturday and Sunday, the shade tree looks like a major attraction.  But what occurs is a tragedy - uncontrolled drunkenness that shatters lives and families.

I turned my attention back to the kids to whom we were ministering. Our prayer, our goal, and our objective is to reach them with the gospel and help them avoid the chains of sin that surround them. 

Thank you for helping us in our ministry. Your donations and prayers help us make a difference.

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