This past month of February has seemed to set the record… in how fast a month can come and go! Other than some important birthday celebrations…it was life as usual in most respects. Our weekly routine here includes a series of personal and small group meetings…never dull…always spontaneous…always a current message from the Lord for his church. On the last weekend of February, however, February 27th, I was privileged to attend a missions meeting in Carpinteria, about 75 miles south of Santa Maria. For me, it was exactly what I would have chosen to do on my birthday and it unfolded like this.
Trip to “the El Franko’s Birthplace”
Due to a family baby shower on this Saturday…I was free to go for the afternoon. On the morning of this day I called a good friend, Frank Mendoza and his wilfe, Luz, to see if they would be able to attend with me. Luz felt it was too sudden a notice, but Frank said “yes, we’ll go,” and called to confirm they would drive…at about 4:00pm. We left about 4:30pm and arrived in the Santa Barbara area about 6:00pm. We had a great meal and missions meeting…Frank told me that this coastal town was his birth place. We had a great time of fellowship traveling there and back as he discussed his childhood and early years…living and growing up in the Santa Barbara area. I did not know this would be our final journey together.
Events of The Past Week
The next day, as usual Frank led the singing for the senior service on Sunday, Feb. 28th,…but on this Sunday he also brought a message to the people because teacher Rick was out of town. Frank was elated as he shared how he selected hymns and songs and then wove his message between these songs. Twenty five people in all…and they loved Frank and his ministry among them. Again, in the later bilingual service he opened with some special songs and prayer. Monday morning we met with a young father whom Frank and Luz had spent hours helping…we had breakfast together and discussed how to best help this family in crisis. Further in the week, as we always do, we communicated with Frank…but on Tuesday he started feeling sick and missed meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, he asked for special prayer…could not stop coughing. On Saturday, he reluctantly said that he would not be able to make the Sunday gathering…”the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.”
Frank Finishes The Race
As Saturday evening wore on, Frank was having an increasingly more difficult time breathing. Just a short time into the new day…Frank stopped breathing. Emergency service was called but he was gone upon arrival. At 6:30 in the morning Luz called to tell me that Frank had gone to be with the Lord. At our Sunday gathering a few hours later we prayed, cried and talked about our friend Frank…and his ministry among us. Then we discussed the description in Revelation of the Holy City that Jesus is building…where the throne of God is…where we will share eternity together. We all rejoiced that Frank has moved to a new home in what Jesus called Paradise!
The Ministry Of Jesus through “the El Franko”
Frank attended many small group gatherings every week…he believed that this is what Jesus would do if he were on this earth right now. He and Luz met with families in crisis often…they bought groceries…they bought clothes…they cared for children…they prayed for the sick…they paid people’s rents…they sang to the dying…they conducted weekly sing a longs for the seniors. They gave of themselves over and over to the sheep God put in their pathway. Just two weeks ago he sang to a dear lady who was in her last hours…and then comforted the family at the memorial. What a big heart for people, for his family and even for strangers.
The Challenge To Frank…A “Sunday Morning Christian”
A few years ago we challenged Frank and Luz to begin to think outside the box of tradition. Luz played the piano and Frank led singing for years…that was their ministry. But one day a few people met at their home for a group meeting…and that went on for some months. Frank’s vision was enlarged and his desire to do ministry through the week was ignited. Frank and Luz became examples to the flock…they moved into the “personal ministry” mode and have been there for countless numbers of people. Thank you Frank for all your care and labors!
How Blessed The Church Has Been…By “The EL Franko”
Who will fill his shoes, who will fill his chair, who will give financially as he did, we pray that God will raise up others to serve unselfishly as “the El Franko” did. Not to mention sending verses by text to a group of people every day without fail…God is calling others…I hope they will hear the call!