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  • John Howard

The Power of Prayer

This happened in 2012 while on a short-term mission trip in Ensenada, Mexico. I was leading a team of teens and adults as we put on a Vacation Bible School at Iglesia Bautista Getesemaní (Gethsemane Baptist Church) in a poor neighborhood. The neighborhood (Colonia 89) had dirt streets and no water or sewer service.

Pastor Melquicedex (Melqui) Gamez Navidad and his wife Dora were our partners. When you are the pastor of a church in an impoverished neighborhood with little in the way of social services, the people come to you with things that we wouldn’t think of as being part of a pastor’s duties. So it was that a lady showed up one morning during our program to speak to Pastor Melqui about trouble that her drug addicted son was causing. No mom wants her son arrested and, in a country where people don’t trust the police, she decided to bring the problem to Melqui. Her son had showed up demanding money and when she didn’t give him any, he started beating her and her sister. So she came to the church. Understand, she wasn’t looking for counselling – she wanted Melqui to deal with her son. Melqui told her to ask her son if he would come to the church and talk to him. He intended to take the son to a rehab – by force if necessary. He came to me and asked if some of our team would help him if force did become necessary. Gulp. Our VBS training didn’t cover this part.

I grabbed the two young Mexican men on our team, Gabriel (nickname Gary) Marquez Ramon and Javier Palomares, along with two of our larger teen guys, Peter Dunckel and Willz Howard. I explained that the five of us were on standby to wrestle this guy into Melqui’s van and take him to rehab. Right then the son showed up at the church. He looked to be 19 or 20 and his hair was braided into corn rows. He was pale and sweating. His pupils were dilated. He was clearly agitated and nervous. Classic symptoms of heroin withdrawal. My team’s eyes got big. I told them, let’s pray for the young man and Melqui’s interaction with him. So we joined hands in a circle and prayed for a few minutes a few feet away from Melqui and the young man.

When we finished and turned to face them, the guy’s appearance was transformed. He was calm. He had stopped sweating and some of the color had returned to his face. Most amazing, he had agreed to go to rehab. So he and Melqui got in the van to go and we sent Gary and Javier along too, just in case. But they weren’t needed because the young man willing embraced going into rehab.


One of my favorite songs that year was "Con Mi Dios" (With my God) from Psalm 18 about what we can do with God's power. We're singing it on the blog photo. It tells how God strengthens our hands and weapons against the enemy. The weapons of Melqui's words to that young man from the Holy Spirit and our prayer for him overcame the power of drug withdrawal in that moment.

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