Keeping a Promise
(Please listen to Tethe’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
1997 I had no hope to live. I didn’t even know that God existed as a person, I had the idea of God, but not as a person. I was completely ignorant that He would love me. That truly was enough to shift my entire life. So constantly, I invite myself, or, I don’t know if it’s the word, but I put myself in a position where I don’t lose sight of that.
The first ever service that I went to–a local church–on my birthday, it was a Father’s Day. I entered a very conservative church with a mini skirt, and flip flops, and a top that it wasn’t too pious to be at church. But at that service, something happened. I couldn’t stop crying. I just knew that He saw me. It didn’t matter how I looked like, it didn’t matter that at that point I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was 17. It didn’t matter that I had no connection with my dad. When I would see him, I will throw up. That’s how bad my relationship with my dad was, literally physically will just feel the need of gagging. Nothing of that mattered at that service. I just was in that bench with other 60 people hearing about the Father.
That word meant nothing to me at that point. But somehow God drilled all the layers of my heart as a teenager and encountered me there. At the end of that service, the person who was preaching, which I had no idea, what was a preacher or anything, this is my first ever encounter with anything related to church. I was sure that I was attending at sect or something like that–a cult or something weird. Then he said that if someone was sick, should go up to the front. And I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t know. So I saw myself walking to the front, which is completely out of my character for that age. I don’t know, I really don’t know. So picture the small church, me with my extremely short skirt and my unpious top, walking to the front of this little church with other three or four people. And my eyes were wide open, everybody was closing their eyes. But that was my first time there and I wanted to see everything and whatever they want to do, I want to to have my eyes and I lock eyes with this guy. And he stopped praying for everybody. And then he looked at me. And he started rebuking death.
I remember how odd was that to me. I have never been exposed to anything like that. I even looked to the back thinking that someone with that name was behind me. I was trying to–is he talking to me or is his talking to someone else? That was a Sunday.
Then on Wednesday, every week, I was attending my doctor just to follow appointments. And the next Wednesday, I would be submitted to surgery. And they were planning to do a mastectomy just purchase a little bit more time on the treatment that I was having. I wasn’t supposed to have a mastectomy yet, because I was 17. You’re not supposed to have one that young, but my case was so weird. They were trying just to go out of the book. I was admitted at the hospital to proceed with the surgery and the doctor was just checking on me. He said, “You have nothing.” And I started a journey of 17 hours in the hospital and submitted to every kind of test until after 17 hours I was cleared up.
They weren’t able to explain what was it. When I was walking out of the hospital, I bumped into the nurse that shared with me the gospel, which was my neighbor. I tell her what happened and she literally in the entrance of the hospital start screaming and dancing and say, “Jesus healed you.”
At that moment, I just knew it. All the 17 hours before I think I would just doing the math of how much I’m going to live until that point of my life being 17, every month was just doing the math–is that, is this month, another month that I’m going to get to live. I never pictured myself after 20. I never planned work, to go to college, and never never planned to be married. I never did any plans because I knew I will die soon.
So that was the first time that I actually contemplated the possibility of having a life. She’s screaming at the entrance of the hospital saying Jesus healed you doing a show. And for first time as a teenager, I’m not embarrassed. I’m dancing with her. I just got it. Jesus healed me. I just fell in love with him. My file in the hospital looks like the Bible. It’s this high. It has tests for five years. They have like the heads of oncology have seen me for several years at that point. I walk into the hospital like it’s my house. Everybody knows my name, everybody. Like everybody was familiar with me. I was bleeding out of my breasts. The pain is horrible. You feel like you’re burning alive. I couldn’t wear normal underwear. Because just the touch. I couldn’t be driven a car because the movement of a car would be too painful.
So they were extracting the breast, extracting the breast just to control it and tried to tackle this area. For 17 hours they sent me to, when the first doctor which is not my main doctor says, “Your–you don’t have anything. I don’t feel anything.” They called my doctor who is not in the hospital to come. And I –they did mammographies, blood tests, ultrasounds. This is 17 hours me in the hospital thinking I’m gonna die tomorrow. Because they they did tell me before the surgery if we open and it’s too much, we just close. We won’t do anything. So I’m thinking no one is telling me anything. So I’m thinking that bad that it’s not even necessary to open up. So they just have me from room to room and nurses are coming in and coming out. Finally, like 10 hours after, they sit me with a bunch of doctors and they’re interviewing me. What did you eat? Where did you go? We have a nuclear reactor in my in my town. Did you visit the nuclear reactor like? So I’m literally trying to memorize my last appointment was a week before, Wednesday before, so I’m memorizing. I’m trying to recall what I ate day by day and who I visit, and at some point I said, “And I went to church.” What church? Did they put something on you? Did you drink something? Did they give you a magical pill or whatever. And they didn’t have an explanation. One of the doctors did say whatever you prayed to, was able to do in a week what we weren’t able to do in five years.
I did remember that.
As men, as doctors, they they just have to go stick with facts. So they just said we’re assuming that it was a psychosomatic expression. We can’t just discard cancer because of your file. So we’re going to keep you monitored now and keep going for a year and a half to weekly appointments because their fear was that it would, it had been recessed (remission)
And then it would there’s another word–metastasis. It will metastasize. So they were monitoring constantly, every week. Then after the first year and a half, it was every month, and then six months. And then I keep doing every day just a matter just to follow up. That was 23 years ago, thank you Jesus.
In… I just fell in love with Him. I read the Bible, probably in the next two months.
I would wake up in the middle of the night with this incredible thirst and I wanted to know more and everybody who I knew that knew more Bible than me would be severely interviewed. Because I wanted to know more and more and more and more. That didn’t set well in my family setting. Because we were we weren’t that radical Catholics. But catholicism in Mexico, it’s more tradition of family legacy other than a faith. So if you’re saying I’m checking out, you’re basically saying I’m rejecting my family tradition.
So when I started in church, and my mom will wake up in the middle of the night and will see me reading my Bible or praying and she freaked out. And then the miniskirts fly away. No one asked me to do anything, no one told me that it was wrong. I just stopped feeling comfortable in those clothes. And I went from partying a lot. And by partying, I mean going to parties, I wouldn’t drink or do drugs or anything. I would just try to escape from the fact that I was sick with cancer and I might die. To just being home enjoying being home and all this need of putting anesthesia on me just, it was released.
But my family wasn’t happy. And within a few months, I had to move out of my house and accept that my–I would see my uncles and my aunts on the street and they wouldn’t say hi to me. I had to start working because I needed to live by myself and pay rent and and what we call now adulting. I had to do that at 17. While doing life with Jesus. Honestly, now that I see it and I say it. I raised both of my eyebrows because it’s Wow. But at that point, it didn’t matter.
I don’t remember having seen myself as a victim of anything that was happening around because this overwhelming love for Him. It was breath and God loved me. Like He saw me. He knew me, He healed me. And the more I would read the Scriptures and more clarity will have between the experience that I had and the person that He was, it was so matching? Like, yeah. I would read every chapter of the Gospels. I was a yes. Like, yeah, like, exactly, yeah, this is this is it. This is the person.
My mom attended church with me for, I want to say a month and a half. As soon as attending church translated into some sort of relationship with God, it made her real uncomfortable because in our mindset, religion is supposed to be left at church on Sundays. So you go, you do your thing. You close the doors of the church and you do life. So, in her eyes, I was a fanatic. I was becoming a fanatic. I understand how scary it was for her. Because she lost control of me. For the first time in my life, I went from being a really submissive daughter to challenging what she would say because the Bible said something different. But God didn’t say that. So I understand now, how scary it would have been.
And this is again, it’s a cultural difference. Gigantic cultural difference when your parents are having full control of your life. It doesn’t matter that you’re 17. And it was hard. It was it was hard, because now I understand to her eyes as a mom, she was protecting me from what she thought it was bad. But what I had experienced at that hospital door was too big to be ignored.
So somehow I read Peter saying that he must obey God above men. And that’s the way the Lord used to carry me all those months, the first month of me being a believer. So yeah. I would say that my mom attended church, but never had experienced Jesus until a few hours before she was receiving heaven.
There is something about crisis, that positions you in a place where God’s voice is really clear.
I was praying in the middle of the night in a hospital. I was there because my mom was severely sick. She had been diagnosed a year before with autoimmune disease, 1 in 100,000 people gets it. That year was 2011. So I flew in to my hometown, which is Vera Cruz in southern Mexico to be with her. We put her in a hospital, within eight hours of being admitted she had to be entered into ICU.
I was camping in the waiting room of the hospital. At that point, I’m completely drained, tired, I’m frustrated. My mom had been there for a few weeks. She’s not saved. The doctors are telling me there’s really not much to do at that point, there’s a surgery, because they detect that her esophagus has been eaten by this disease. So she has holes in her esophagus, and there’s a surgery they’re planning to do. So they’re telling me that it’s 92% that she’s not even surviving the surgery. I have to take up decisions in the next hours with my brother who is 10 years younger than me, next to me. It’s three in the morning. I’m just pacing the hospital completely mad at Jesus. Because He’s just not there. I’m not seeing Him. And I think at that point, is not only the fact of my mom is not being healed. The thing is that, she’s not saved. All my life as a believer until that point, more than 15 years, has been anchored in this promise that if I believe my family will be saved. So I’m fighting death, like I’m in that bridge between death and promises. I’m just standing there and pressing into it. First you start praying with faith, then you start praying with courage, and then you start praying with anger. At that point all the those fade away, and I’m just pouting and telling Jesus, “You forgot me. You forgot your word.” And I’m just grabbing my Bible with anger.
He said, “No, I haven’t.” In a matter of seconds, I heard myself at every altar, or every prayer moment that I had, making promises to God. I heard myself saying, I will serve you. I will go, and I will do whatever you want me to do. My heart is yours, and my life is yours and wherever you are.
It’s like this montage of key moments where I devote my life to Jesus. He’s telling me, “I haven’t forgotten what I promised you, but did, you did forget about your word to Me. I’m gonna come. I’m going to show you my faithfulness.” So, the next hour is my brother and I decided my mom would enter surgery.
She entered surgery and survived surgery, which that was a miracle by itself. Then after three weeks plus of being completely unconscious, out of coma, she came out of coma. We had a really long four hours conversation. I had the honor to lead her to Jesus. To see her tears for first time, not out of pain, or not out of frustration or not out of bitterness. But I saw her tear up out of love, to know that she was being loved. The same day, a few hours after, she she went to go with Jesus.
It took a few months for me to figure out how life will be for me without her. But I constantly was taken back to that moment of prayer. In that hospital. That reminder of God that I did promise things that I haven’t fulfilled. It wasn’t that I didn’t fulfill them because I didn’t want to or because I was far away. Until that point, I had been a believer in Jesus. I’ve been constant to church, I’ve been tithing, I’ve been serving in my local church, I’ve been really active. It’s just, when it came to what He called me to do when it came to what I knew I was supposed to do, I had too much fear.
I kept looking in the mirror and when I would see, it wasn’t matching the size of what I knew He called me to do. That night when God reminded me what He, who I was–It was way more than then what I was supposed to do. It was more, who I was to His eyes–how He saw me. I kept seeing the same person in the mirror, nothing magical happened. But somehow to be aware of how He saw me in that, probably was the darkest moment of my life, it stirred something within me. I knew somehow God was matching my talents, natural talents or telling stories or use technology to video and photography and all that with this passion for his movement on the nations. But then I will attend that church on Sunday and I will hear a message about how unqualified I was to even being a believer.
So I just put all that under the carpet and believed that I wasn’t good enough, and that I didn’t have enough qualifications to even aspire. And I settled, I make the louder voices around me to be the driving force of my walk with Jesus. That night in the hospital. It was strong enough to make me look back and question if God does believe in me, if He sees me as someone valued. If my promises to Him are worthy enough for Him to have in His mind, God might be interested in me pursuing what He called me to do, even when I’m completely unqualified. I said to God, something like “How on earth I’m going to do something for others, meaning expressing the gifting on the mission field and pursue in this this calling?”
The next year, actually, my life changed and over a series of events that are not logically possible, like the fact that someone was supposed to come to a conference in Texas and ended up not being able and gifted me that ticket and I had the dates off to be able to come. I ended up in this gigantic church. This pastor from Guatemala started talking about callings and probable callings. And well, he’s talking and Lord’s just saying, “This is why I brought you. And this is this is the start of the journey.”
So I literally spend the whole session just soaking over my tears and probably one or two boogers. Because I couldn’t believe that God will have brought me all the way to Texas just to hear this word that had to do with the last year of the struggle on my heart. Then in the same conference, the only American attending the conference, saw me crying and asked me what the Lord spoke to you. I said, “Well, about a calling, which I don’t know how it is going to be possible. Like I don’t see. I’m having a job in Mexico. I don’t know how is that going to look like.”
He smiled and introduced me to someone, and then I blinked and I was in the backstage of Gateway church. and this suite of video, being introduced to people and I was in Disneyland for 20 minutes. Seeing that every dream that I had in the past until that point, it was possible.
It was more than going to the backstage of a church. It was seeing materialized every prayer that I had done until that point, that I knew when I did those prayers that they were impossible–to have equipment, to have qualified people, to have excellence. It was like God taking me by the hand and saying, “See, I can do it.”
I think that was the day where I abandoned that the ledge of that place between death and calling. And I told God, “Okay, I’ll do it. I don’t know how it’s going to look like. I don’t know how much is going to cost. But I’ll do it.”
It has been a brutally beautiful experience. But I know I was made for this. I know–I know, this is the way that I want to spend the rest of my life walking in what Jesus called me to do.
Now, after that visit to that church, having been trained and equipped on digital video, I established a nonprofit and traveled to different countries to meet missionaries to produce videos for them, so the church can know what is happening on the mission field.
As I came and jumped into the ministry, my family start getting saved. I received a call from an aunt, which, by the way was the aunt that organized my family against me when I became a believer, to do interventions. I received a call. She was struggling with a family situation. She moved to another city. And then they were renting a house from a pastor. And she met Jesus through her.
Then another uncle was financial struggle and the Lord met him. So in the last five years, I’ve seen more fruit in my family than in 15 years before that, so that was fun. That has been fun. Seeing Jesus taking care of what I love. One of my uncle’s got diagnosed with cancer two months ago, three months ago. And my uncle did pass away. I had the honor to to lead him to Jesus and to preach at his funeral. Somehow the same family that stopped talking to me, now asked me, would you would you share with us so, it’s it has been humbling. I don’t have another word to tag or to label. That journey with my family has been humbling.
There is something about crisis, that positions you in a place where God’s voice is really clear. I’m not fond of them. So I try to remind myself how that felt. So I don’t have to go to a new one. Or if I go to a new one, which of course I can’t prevent–those just happen. Just be mindful that even when it’s sucks and it’s messy, somehow it’s the best place to be because I’m hearing His voice better than ever.