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The Power of One

Updated: May 29, 2023

"Will you come to my funeral?" It's an unusual question, but it started a domino effect that changed an entire town.

I love missions. I love knowing that God delights in using everyday people to share His redemptive plan with every tribe, tongue, and nation. I love getting to tell the stories of missionaries past and present because I want you to know that God is still growing His church. And, I hope to inspire you to live on mission as you read about heroes of the faith who ran their races well..

Today's story shows the power that one committed soul has to change an entire town. I dedicate it to Marty Collins, who is reunited in heaven with this one precious soul that she got to point to Jesus. The following is an abridged excerpt from my soon-to-be released book, All Nations.*


One person. Is it really possible for one person to make a difference? History records some amazing heroes who made significant contributions to the world in which they lived, but can one person actually change the course of history?

If so, doesn’t that one person need to be a superhero? Don’t they have to be rich, powerful, and influential? Most of us haven’t been raised in a palace. We haven’t had elite education, training, and life experiences. So, the question remains, can an ordinary person, like most of us, really make a difference?

Missionaries Jerry and Marty Collins would answer that question with an emphatic, “YES!” They served fifteen years in the small cuidad (city) of Guerrero, Chihuahua in Mexico.

Guerrero was a beautiful place with beautiful people, but it was a spiritually dark ministry. Most of the people were steeped in Catholicism and followed their cultural traditions. As a result, very few responded to the gospel message that it was NOT BY WORKS of righteousness that WE have done, but ACCORDING TO GOD'S mercy that He saves us through the shed blood of Jesus.

But then God sent one person - one person that He had uniquely prepared to accomplish His work among those mountain people - one person who willingly followed God’s leading. Her name was Luz Elena and God used her to reach many souls in her city.

Her name means light and that is exactly what she brought to her people.

Just before the Collins family arrived, Luz Elena tragically lost her baby daughter - a girl she had named Angela.

Heartbroken, she began asking God to show her how she could one day be reunited with her baby. When Jerry and Marty Collins moved to the city, Luz Elena knew they had the answers she had been seeking.

Jerry and Marty began faithfully teaching her God’s word, and little by little, Luz Elena began to understand what Jesus’ death on the cross meant. She understood that God had provided the perfect Lamb to shed His blood and pay for her sin. She joyfully placed her faith in Christ and became a faithful member of the little mission church. She finally had hope that she would see her baby girl again because Jesus was preparing a place for her in heaven.

She also became a devoted prayer warrior begging God to help her people understand the truth. She desperately wanted them to be free from the same bondage of sin that used to enslave her. She was willing for God to use her in any way that He wanted. One day, Luz Elena got some news that to most of us would be devastaing. Doctors told her she had cancer, and there wasn't hope of survival. Luz Elena chose to use the time had to rescue as many souls as she could.

She started visiting everyone in the city. She literally knocked on door after door after door and at each one, she would ask, “When I die, will you go to my funeral?” She would not leave them until they promised to attend her funeral.

Then, she asked Mr. Collins to conduct her funeral when the time came. She wanted him to tell the people about the perfect Lamb of God and she wanted him to tell them where she went after death. She asked her dear friend, Marty to sing powerful songs at her funeral – songs that shared the love of Jesus and told about the peace that only He could bring.

Luz Elena was not afraid. She knew that soon she would be with Jesus and she would be reunited with her child. What joy she must have known when that day finally arrived! We can only imagine.

Almost the entire city came to fulfill the promise they had made to this young woman. Every seat in the building was taken. People were standing all around the edges and back of the church. When the inside was completely full, they opened the windows and villagers stood outside completely circling the building. Mr. Collins attached speakers to the outside so the crowds who had gathered could hear.

Mr. Collins preached just like he promised Luz Elena he would do. He told the people that Luz Elena was not sad, but completely joyful because she was living in heaven with the One who saved her. And she was reunited with her precious child. He told the people how they, too, could have the same hope and that day, hundreds of people repented and trusted Christ for their salvation. Men who had been slaves to alcohol surrendered and turned their hearts over to Jesus. Villagers who had longed for truth finally found hope in Jesus Christ. The little church that had never had more than a few people, suddenly grew to more than 100 servants who remained faithful throughout the years. They worked together to spread the light of God’s Word to their people just like Luz Elena had done.

Luz Elena was not raised in a palace and she wasn’t educated with royalty. She was an unlikely candidate for the work God had for her. But she was willing and God used this one person. This one grieving mother was mightily used to impact an entire city with the light of the gospel. A few months before Luz Elena's homegoing, her dear friend, Marty, had a baby girl. She named the baby Angela.

Marty Collins spent her life reaching people like Luz Elena with the gospel. In 2021, God called her home. I can only imagine the reunion the two friends have had in heaven!

I hope these friends can inspire you the way they have inspired me.

I want to thank my dear friends Jennifer Collins Davisson and Angela Collins Beadles. These two beautiful, zany, and loving daughters of Jerry and Marty Collins shared their mama with me and their mama has made my life richer. I'm glad I can share a piece of their story with you.

*The above excerpt is from my book All Nations which is a companion book for the Illuminate homeschool curriculum published by Union Gospel Press. It's release date has not yet been set, but stay tuned! I'll be sure and let you know when it is available.]


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