Drunk Man Builds Church, Chooses Sobriety

March 07, 2016 | Lisa Neuharth

Over Christmas break, the Neuharth family joined Mexico Mission and Beyond for a mission trip. They flew into Houston, Texas, to join a group of about 75 other Adventists, ages 7 to 70, and drive two days and a night to Poza Rica, Vera Cruz, Mexico.

During their mission trip, group members slept on the tile floors of the local school and took bucket showers. They worked with the local conference pastors and built five churches and held Vacation Bible School, health expos, and evangelistic meetings for the adults and the children.

On the second day of building, the group was at a remote church village called Papantla, where the people are poor and use drugs at a high rate. Two Adventist couples are planting a church there and have great plans to change the community.

As the mission group worked, a very drunk man approached the locals and asked to work. They told him no because he was drunk. He then asked Lisa Neuharth if he could work. Lisa told him he needed to go sleep and could work when he wasn’t drunk, but he persisted.

Lisa prayed with the man, hoping he would get some peace and leave, but he insisted he could work. Finally, she gave him a job sifting sand with her 11-year-old son, Levi.

Because the man, Alfonzo, was drunk, it took many tries to explain the simple job of shoveling sand. But Alfonzo proved persistent and energetic. Soon he began to crave another drink, and he slipped away.

Within moments, young Levi noticed his friend was gone, chased him down and brought him back before he was able to drink. Alfonzo collapsed in tears. He was 33 years old and had been a drunk his entire life. He wanted to change, but he said he had tried and could not. 

The group prayed for Alfonzo and encouraged him. He began to walk away several times, but each time Levi diligently brought him back.

As evening approached, the workers said goodbye to Alfonzo. Lisa didn’t expect to see him again. But as they returned the following day to finish the church, Alfonzo was sober. His eyes, mind, and words were clear, and he was working extremely hard.

That evening, Alfonzo returned to his home, showered, put his best clothes on and came to the evangelistic series. Levi sat right beside him. 

As the week progressed, Alfonzo continued to remain sober and came to each evangelistic meeting. At the end of the week, the speaker offered a call for baptism. Alfonzo wanted to go up but hesitated. Levi quickly joined him in going forward.

Though language, culture, age and home addresses separated Alfonzo and Levi, the love of God bound them together for eternity. The mission group had the privilege of seeing Alfonzo baptized that Sabbath. Levi hopes to see his friend on another mission trip, but, if not, they will meet again in heaven.

After Lisa watched her 11-year-old son lead a man to Christ despite all the obstacles, she was left asking herself, "What is holding me back?" She returned to her small hometown with a new fire to be a missionary wherever she is.

God needs missionaries everywhere — in the United States, in our workplaces and even in our homes. The Neuharths have faith that God will use them, that no obstacle is too big for Him.