MANEADERO, Mexico – Just under a two-hour drive south of the Tijuana, Mexico border, Christmas gifts and a strong message that Jesus came to serve the poor, were delivered by a group of Christians on a recent weekend missions trip that included washing the feet of Oaxacan migrant farm workers living in sparse homes inside a colonia.
In the missionary center known as Aqua Viva (Living Water) located on farmland on the outskirts of the town of Maneadero and adjacent to the community of Oaxacan people, members of the group scrambled to gather designated bags of goodies, including backpacks, first aid kits, clothes, and shoes, with quantities determined by a list of family members living in each house. Then, they broke up into clusters of two and three people and went door-to-door, walking on the roads of wet and dried mud with gifts in hand and a servant's heart.
The message of the five ministry groups, including Genesis Diez, Strong Tower, Transformacion Mundial, and Horizonte Rosarito, was more than simply blessing the poor families with material gifts; they came to illustrate the serving heart that Jesus displayed on the night he washed the feet of the disciples.
"We feel it is so very important to be relational with those Jesus has called us to serve. To be a warm light for Christ through action and word," Greg Amstutz, president of Genesis Diez Ministry, told The Christian Post. "To enter into their humble home as a guest is a privilege."
With wipes in hand, Amstutz along with the others on the mission trip, were mostly accepted warmly by the families into their home or just outside. Most families, with no chairs, took a bucket to sit down on while the mission members kneeled to wash their feet.
"We approached the washing of the feet activity with them very prayerfully and simply, as they were not aware we were going to ask permission to wash their feet," Amstutz explained. "We began with the story of the Last Supper before He was crucified on the cross where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to allow them to understand the significance that Jesus' love for his disciples, explaining, for cultural and personal sensitivity, that we desire to wash their feet, not because we felt they had dirty feet, but that we would like to wash their feet as a symbol of our love and care for them and, more importantly, Jesus' love and care for them."
He continued, "As I washed the feet of the men, keeping it simple by using baby wipes, I personally felt the importance of not using any gloves so that it was a warm skin-to-skin touch. As I washed their feet I felt the peace of the Holy Spirit as I spoke to each one of them about work or school."
Amstutz said he truly felt honored and enjoyed the experience "to be on my knees washing the feet of those Jesus has called me to serve in His name – being the arms of love of Christ."
Strong Tower Ministries co-leader Tracey Kirk-Johnson said the idea to do the foot washing came when she knew that shoes were a need for the 76 families of the Santa Juquila colonia.
"I knew we were going to be delivering shoes and I just thought that instead of putting dirty feet into the shoes, washing their feet was a much more personal act of service and much more of a human connection than just handing someone bags," Kirk-Johnson said. "That's how Christ's ministry was in His last days. He served His disciples and washed their feet. Instead of just appearing there and giving them all these things I just wanted to connect with them on a level of love to serve them."
Earlier in the day on Saturday, before the house visits, more than 100 Oaxacan children from the colonia came to Aqua Viva for games and crafts related to Christmas, and lunch. The mothers came to an afternoon church service during which two came forward to accept Jesus into their lives.
"I was telling them that they may think we have it all as Americans, but we have good days and bad days, too," said Susan Fasino, who has been a missionary in the area, located a short drive just south-east of Ensenada, for more than a decade, and was one of the speakers at the church service. "We have grief, we have sorrow and pain, and through it all we get to get through these things by going to God, by always going to the Word of God.
"The reason we are here is to share with them the word of the Bible and to show that Jesus is the way. He heals the broken hearted and He humbles Himself to serve."