No 609



How long has it been since you got down on your knees and thanked the Lord for your freedom? Freedom is not free, and if you are an American you should know that hundreds of thousands of brave men and women lost their lives over the past 200 years to insure that you and I could breathe the free air we all enjoy.
Freedom is something I believe most Americans take for granted. Something else I believe most of us take for granted is the economic opportunity we all have when we get out of bed each day. This is made possible because “we the people” have a system of self-government that allows and encourages capitalism characterized by bountiful land, water, raw materials, production facilities, transportation, sales and profits.
Now contrast this, please, with people who wake up each day in La Estancia, Mexico, where there is no running water, no modern conveniences, no paved roads, no doctors or hospitals and the per capita income is less than $50 per week. That’s not $50 per hour or $50 per day, but $50 per week, when there is work. The wages of most days are simply bartered for something to eat. Several weeks ago I was brought face to face with the plight and reality of these poor people by a dear friend of mine by the name of Luis Ortega Jr., who lives here in Conway.
Luis was born in La Estancia as the oldest of four children, under a covered shed that looks no better than those of the strawberry fields of North Central Arkansas. If you will come, I would like to take you on a brief journey that I am calling, “A story of two worlds,” one where Luis was born and spent the first seven years of his life, and the one where he lives now.
Luis was the oldest of four boys, and when he was 5 his father, Luis Ortega Sr., abandoned his family and moved to Houston, Texas. After a couple of years he wanted his wife and the two youngest children to move to Texas to be with him. This would have meant that Luis would have been left behind. However, his mother said, “No, either we all come or none of us will come at all.”
They all went and Luis would spend the next 12 years of his life in Houston. In his earlier life, Luis’ father was an alcoholic and a drug addict, but miraculously his life was changed when he came to know Jesus, and he is now the pastor of a Hispanic church in Dallas. When he was 19, Luis came to Central Baptist College in Conway, married a precious girl by the name of Lisa and is now employed by Lifeword Broadcast Ministries.
Luis has become a dear friend and he is brilliant, not because he chose me to be a friend, but because he is the speaker for Hispanic Missionary Radio for all of Latin, Central and South America. He is also a computer whiz and a Web site developer and is in line to be president of our local Lions Club. What I am saying is really a testimony to freedom and the value of education. Luis came from dire poverty and, when given the freedom and the opportunity, he made the most of it. He has developed countless Web sites, and if you have an interest, check out a couple of these and I believe you will agree with my assessment: and
Several months ago, Luis and a team of medical missionaries traveled back to his home village to provide much-needed medical attention for these impoverished people. During his trip Luis made countless photos. He shared them with our club recently, and it was really an eye opener for me. When a country has no “middle class” and a government that is corrupt and does not work to create an environment where its citizens can succeed, you have dire poverty. This is one of the major problems in Mexico, filthy rich or dirt poor, and this does not make for a high standard of living, except for the few who are filthy rich.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark. 72034. To support literacy, buy his book, “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)