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“The Eyes Have It”

While that’s probably not the way you would normally see that sentence spelled (“The eyes have it”), it might well be the way Pastor Juan José Olvera would spell it these days. Pastor Olvera is a foreign affiliate of the CLC currently working in the Juárez area south of El Paso, Texas. He, like the Apostle Paul, helps to support himself and his family by sewing—until recently. His ongoing struggle with diabetes left him with serious vision impairment in both eyes. His condition required immediate surgery to correct the problem and to prevent it from leaving him permanently disabled. Thanks to a small gift from the CLC Mission Development Fund and an advance on their modest subsidy, Pastor Olvera had two successful surgeries that have, by the grace of God, restored his vision and allowed him to carry on both his secular and pastoral duties.

Pastor Olvera writes,

Dear Brothers in the Lord,

I give thanks to our God for the blessings I have received. Last week I had surgery on my left eye. All went well with the blessing of the Lord. I received all the necessary care and am very well. Thank you very much for all your prayers and support, both spiritual and material. These blessings make me redouble my efforts to continue talking with everyone in Mexico about the true faith that the Lord has given us. Soon I’ll be sending news of the students in our seminary and the Evangelistic crusades to reach more people for the Lord. Greetings to our brethren in other countries that day by day fight the good fight of faith, as well as our mother church, the CLC. May the spirit of the Lord guide their ministries. I pray always for you, in Christ Jesus.

Your brother and fellow servant in the work of Jesus,

Pastor Olvera

While his physical sight was threatened, not so his spiritual. He not only continues to see his Savior Jesus with the eyes of gratitude and faith, but also all around him he sees the devastation caused by centuries of domination by the Roman Catholic Church. According to the last census, 88% of Mexican citizens are Roman Catholic and are therefore trapped in the blindness of work-righteousness. Pastor Olvera and his fledgling congregation continue to struggle to hold salvation by God’s grace through faith alone before the eyes of their fellow countrymen.

The eyes there also have a
vision of the future. 

Recognizing that the fields are white for harvest but the workers are few, Pastor Olvera continues to train other young men for the public ministry. It is difficult for us here to comprehend the struggles they face. Here the Lord has blessed us with a wealth of instructors, beautiful facilities, vast libraries, and growing endowments. There they struggle to secure the basic text books, and must rely on one man for their training. Yet they do so with absolute joy in the knowledge of the One they serve, and in the freedom of our God’s pure, undeserved love. Our brothers and sisters in Mexico treasure the fellowship they have found with like-minded believers in the CLC, and they seek, above all else, our ongoing prayers.

While we tend to think of ourselves as those who give aid to our foreign affiliates, it is often they who help us to look past material distractions and to focus always on that “one thing needful.” We are, or ought to be, reminded of this as we enter another calendar year of God’s grace. While most New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on self, our Savior has called us to focus our attention and to pour our best efforts into the work He has given us—to look in love to the desperate spiritual needs of others. God grant us eyes that look to the future always against the backdrop of eternity and the rapid approach of God’s final judgment. The inevitable result will then be the God-pleasing resolution to work now, while it is still day, recognizing that the night of His judgment will soon fall on all who do not know Him.

Michael Roehl is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bismarck, North Dakota.