When Cynthia Castillo was serving with another mission agency in Mexico City, she met Hector, a nine-year-old boy. His family consisted of his mom and his 16-year-old sister, who was five months pregnant. There was no dad in the home; he had left when Hector was still a baby. Right away, Cynthia considered Hector to be one of the sweetest, cutest children she’d ever met. There was something special about him.
Learning the Bible was new and exciting
Hector had already received the Lord as His Savior before he and his family began attending the church where Cynthia served. Their previous church had not been strong doctrinally, so learning more about the Bible was very new and exciting to Hector. For two to three years, Cynthia and other church members watched Hector grow in the Lord, but then suddenly his family moved away.
Cynthia thought of him often, wondering how he was doing. It was a joy when the family returned two years later and began attending church again. Hector was quick to volunteer for VBS, Sunday School, or wherever else help was needed. The church’s new Mexican pastor had a strong heart for young people. He made sure to involve Hector wherever he could, mostly because he saw Hector’s mom struggling, and he was worried about what Hector might get into, being unsupervised.
A single mom’s struggle
In her struggles, Hector’s mom could not afford to keep Hector in school, so she pulled him out, at age 13, to begin working. His pastor was concerned enough to step in, as was Cynthia. She paid for the uniform and school supplies Hector needed to return to school, something he and his mom were overjoyed about. He was a bright student who loved to learn.
Enrolling Hector in a private school seemed like the best option. However, six months later Cynthia experienced a change in her ministry when she joined Baptist Mid-Missions to work with our Spanish publishing ministry. The change took her away from Mexico City for an extended time. Sadly, after one year in his new school, Hector was seriously questioning whether or not he believed in God. The teachers’ adamant insistence that God did not exist was influencing Hector. Cynthia was heartbroken to see this promising young man slipping away from the Lord.
Damage had already been done
Thankfully, Cynthia was able to get Hector into a better school, but damage had already been done. On a brief return visit to Mexico City, she told Hector that, as much as she wanted to, there was no way she could make him believe. She challenged him to think over his life of the past few years, asking him to consider how several events in his life could have come into place if God did not exist. She prayed with him and had to say good-bye. All she could do was entrust him to the Lord.
In 2016, Cynthia returned to Mexico to attend Hector’s high school graduation. It was hard to know who was the proudest: Hector for his accomplishment; his mom, because he’s the first person in their family to graduate from high school and now go onto college; or Cynthia because she knew the struggles and victories that led to that day. It was clear that Hector had settled in his mind that God did exist, as seen by his love for the Lord and renewed desire to serve Him.
How did you resolve your questions?
Sometime later, Cynthia asked Hector how he finally settled his questions about God’s existence. He said, “I did what you said; I looked at the evidence of God’s presence in my life.” While he was in school, the teachers very emphatically told the students there was no God, but Hector said they had no proof, just theories, and nothing to substantiate their hypothesis. He said he also went back to a book Cynthia gave him when he was training to be a Sunday School teacher: A Young Man After God’s Own Heart. He read it again, and again he looked at his life and he saw daily evidence of God that totally contradicted the teachers’ hypothesis. After that he had no reason to doubt.
Hector saw that the Lord had given him a father figure in his pastor, a man who had a burden for him and was willing to look out for him and advocate for him, but most of all to love him and challenge him even when it wasn’t easy. He also had Cynthia, a caring missionary in his life who taught him and loved his family through their ups and downs.
Were it not for those who sacrifice
Hector was accepted into the medical program at the local university and intends to become a neurologist. Hector’s family is doing well, growing in faith and in number also. His sister and her husband had her third child recently. She and her husband are discussing ministry options for how they can serve.
Were it not for people who make sacrifices every day to give to missions, Hector’s life and that of his family would be so very different.