dust swirled in tiny twisters behind Bryan Marleaux’s car as he
and his wife headed into the hills south of downtown Tijuana, Mexico.
The 31-year-old seminarian and itinerant evangelist silently thanked the
Lord again for the young woman he had married. Mercedes, an Argentine-American,
would minister with him by translating his guest sermon into Spanish as
he preached at a local church that Sunday morning in September 1994.
Bryan reflected on the sovereign way God had first linked the two of them
to the pastor and congregation at Iglesia Misión Cristiana Plan
One day the previous January he had sensed clear direction from the Holy
Spirit to take to Mexico some clothing they had received for distribution
to the poor. The message was unmistakable: Today. Go. Mexico.
Mexico? Brian had asked the Lord in response. Now?
But God did not give any more hints. So Bryan and Mercedes had loaded
the clothes into their Honda Civic that January day and headed south.
Almost a hundred miles down the coast from their home in Corona Del Mar,
California, they crossed the border.
“O.K., Lord, You’ll have to guide us from here,” Bryan
The hills just ahead seemed to beckon, and Bryan drove into that area.
A turn here and there brought them to a dirt road, which they followed
until they came to a little church housed in a converted market with several
dozen people clustered outside.
Bryan turned aside to park the car, and he and Mercedes began chatting
with the first person they met—the pastor, as it turned out. Their
jaws sagged when they learned that the guest speaker that day was a friend
of theirs from the United States. How had they managed to show up in this
remote neighborhood of Tijuana just in time for their friend’s service?
Bryan and Mercedes’ friend introduced them to the congregation and
invited them to give greetings. They also shared the clothing they had
“Can you come back in a couple of weeks and preach?” the pastor
asked the Marleauxes.
In the eight months since then, they had returned several times and forged
a warm bond with the pastor and his people. With a partnership established
through divine appointment, Bryan and Mercedes had come to expect the
unexpected whenever they visited Iglesia Misión Cristiana.
Now, as they reached the church this Sunday morning, September 18, Bryan
pulled up to park.
I wonder what God will do today? he mused as he waited a moment for the
dust outside to settle.
During the morning service he preached a message on the grace of God,
Mercedes at his side, to the congregation of sixty to eighty members.
At the end he felt the Lord prompt him with a few words of knowledge about
healing needs. Seven or eight people responded and came forward for prayer,
lining up shoulder to shoulder in front of the altar.
As he and Mercedes moved to the first person in line on their right, Bryan
asked other worshipers to help pray and stand behind anyone who might
fall under the power of the Holy Spirit.
A girl about seven years old began shaking as she was prayed for. Then
a young man broke out in sobs while the Lord ministered to deep needs.
We need more prayer help! Bryan thought, scanning the congregation.
His eyes lit on Miguel Guerrero, whom just about everyone called Junior.
Bryan had met the 28-year-old on previous trips and knew he spoke a little
“Junior, why don’t you lay your hand on this man,” Bryan
suggested, “and help us pray for him?”
Clearly the power of God already rested on the young man shaking and weeping
in the prayer line. But as Junior extended his hand and placed it on the
man’s head, Bryan noticed a glazed look come over Junior’s
saucer-eyed face. Moments later Junior wandered off, waving that same
arm like a traffic cop.
Where is he going? Bryan wondered. We still need his help!
As he and Mercedes moved down the line praying for others, Bryan spotted
Junior sitting in the back of the church with two friends about his age,
talking and gesturing with gusto. In a few minutes the trio stood up,
and the healing line got longer by two as Junior’s friends joined
it. Soon Bryan reached the end of the line where Junior stood behind his
two friends, one mustached and one clean-shaven, both wearing comfortably
worn T-shirts and jeans.
“What would you like prayer for?” Bryan asked them through
The answer took unusually long as Mercedes exchanged words with Junior
and his two friends. Finally she turned to Bryan.
“His friends say, ‘We haven’t come for healing. We want
to receive the Lord.’”
Bryan’s tongue locked in a stammer.
I haven’t given an altar call! he marveled. I didn’t even
preach an evangelistic message. He imagined himself joking, “Hey,
this isn’t how it’s supposed to go. You guys sit down and
let me give an altar call. Then you raise your hands and come forward,
O.K.? Go back and let’s try this again!”
The Lord, however, had not been caught by surprise. Junior explained,
with Mercedes interpreting, that at the moment he put his hand on the
young man in the healing line, he had felt the power of God shoot up his
arm like a bolt of electricity. He knew instantly that he had been healed
of a long-standing shoulder injury. With pain-free mobility he had not
enjoyed in years, Junior lost no time explaining to his two friends, Juan
Prieto and José “Che” Rodriguez, what God had done.
Although they had never attended church before, Juan and José recognized
God’s power and wanted to give their lives to Him.
“You’re sure?” Bryan asked them. “You understand
what this means?”
Indeed, each young man confessed his desire to commit his life to Christ.
Bryan’s message about God’s grace and the demonstrations of
His love in touching and healing others had been enough for them.
Bryan and Mercedes led Juan and José in the sinner’s prayer,
asking God for forgiveness and salvation through Christ and pledging their
lives to Him. As they finished, the Lord impressed on Bryan to pray for
each to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Juan’s face shone with the peace of the Lord, a heavenly smile curling
up his brown mustache.
José, meanwhile, began to shake. A stream of tears burst forth
and soon his legs gave way. For several minutes he lay on the floor resting
in the Holy Spirit, looking as serene as if soaking in a warm bath.
Bryan learned later that Juan and José had come out of painful
backgrounds scarred by drug and alcohol abuse. He made sure Junior and
others in the church followed up these new professions of faith with Bible
study and discipleship training.
And Bryan left Tijuana that September day with a fresh sense of the sovereignty
of God in birthing salvation. His theological training had prepared him
for giving orderly expositions of the Gospel and strategically timed invitations
to receive Christ. But here the Lord had sneaked up on him!
“God doesn’t always wait for us to do our little rituals before
He acts,” he concludes with a smile.
The two new believers in Tijuana, meanwhile, continue to attend church
and send strong roots deep into the nourishing soil of the Kingdom of
|What moved Juan
and José to want to become followers of Christ? That September day
at Iglesia Misión Cristiana, they saw something they had never seen
with such immediacy: a tangible demonstration of the love, compassion and
power of Jesus. The witness proved so strong that a physical healing of
their friend Junior—not even their own healing—was sufficient
to move them to repentance and conversion.
Healing figured prominently in the earthly ministry of Jesus. Why?
In the first place, the Gospels speak of Jesus’ compassion toward
the suffering. Mark 1:40–42 chronicles a typical incident from the
beginning of His ministry:
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you
are willing, you can make me clean.”
Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.
“I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately
the leprosy left him and he was cured.
Similarly, near the end of His ministry, Jesus met two blind men sitting
by the road outside Jericho. They called to Him, pleading for restoration
of their sight. Matthew 20:34 records, “Jesus had compassion on them
and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed
Second, supernatural healing served as a sign of the Kingdom of God, offering
powerful validation of Jesus’ identity and message. Peter declared
in his Pentecost sermon that “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited
by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through
him, as you yourselves know” (Acts 2:22). The signs He performed gave
evidence of Jesus’ divine origin.
Moreover, Jesus Himself pointed to His supernatural deeds as proof of His
Messiahship. One day John the Baptist, languishing in prison, sent two messengers
to his cousin.
When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to
you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil
spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers,
“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind
receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf
hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed
is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
God still uses supernatural healing today to draw people to Himself through
its witness to His love and power. Sometimes (as happened to Junior Guerrero)
healing comes as a sovereign, unasked-for act of God, triggering awe in
the one healed and others who see and hear of it. At other times God waits
for one of His children to ask for healing in a particular situation.
When we have courage to approach Him with our requests and not box Him within
the boundaries of our expectations or methodologies, the Lord may surprise
Prayer for healing, particularly healing of unbelievers, works to greatest
effect when intercessors hear God’s distinct guidance as to His will
and timing. At the beginning of Bryan Marleaux’s connection with Iglesia
Misión Cristiana, he had sensed the Spirit of the Lord saying to
him, Today. Go. Mexico.
In the next story, years of sod-busting spiritual warfare helped plow up
fallow ground for the Kingdom of God, at which point God arranged an opportunity
for healing prayer that sprouted wide consequences. . . .
From Stories from the Front Lines: Power Evangelism in Today's World
by Jane Rumph
Xulon Press, 272 pages
Used by permission