Before Your Blame the Devil

A True Story about how the Devil got blamed for something he didn’t do.

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

This story took place when we were working at an orphanage in Old Mexico.

In January 1981 an organization called Youth With A Mission (YWAM) organized a missionary outreach in Mexico in which they would strive to distribute Bibles throughout Monterrey in the state of Nuevo León and villages in the surrounding region. YWAM teams from all over North America descended on Monterrey for the outreach.

Unfortunately, due to an unanticipated political event, the semi loaded with Bibles had gotten stranded within the checkpoints at the McAllen/Reynosa border. That political event was the January 6 meeting between President-elect Ronald Reagan and Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo on a bridge over the Rio Grande designed to symbolize better U.S.-Mexican relations in the future.

The truckload of Bibles got stranded in Reynosa for a day. The following day it was instructed to return to the U.S. on a technicality.

Now there were 600 YWAM workers in Monterrey with their agenda suddenly upended.


The Casa de Ninos where we were working was located 10 miles South of the city. Somehow we learned of this influx of young people and decided to pay a visit. The orphanage buildings had a variety of needs — screens in need of repair, structural needs, electrical needs and more. If nothing else, the YWAMers could interact with the children and be entertained while giving attention.

We drove to the facility where the YWAM teams had assembled and discussed our need with some of the leaders. The net result was for many of the groups to join us for a week or two of labor, a rewarding experience for those who volunteered as much as for the orphanage.

All this is preface to my story about the Devil.


One of the YWAM teams drove to Monterrey from California. One of their vehicles was pulling a trailer which they had loaded with all their luggage and gear for this trip.

The leader of this team said to us, “We could tell that the Devil did not want us to get here because we had 17 blowouts along the way.”

One blowout on a trailer full of gear is dangerous enough, and it would have to be an immense hassle unloading everything and replacing a tire before continuing. 17 blowouts would be hugely inconvenient. The big surprise, however, is that it never entered their minds that the cause of these blowouts may have been their own doing.

For the YWAMers the blowouts were the Devil’s handiwork. They were on a mission to distribute Bibles and share the Gospel. The Enemy, they decided, was determined to keep them from accomplishing this mission.


I’d not given much thought to this incident for more than 30 years until I helped my son move from Savannah back to Duluth a few years back. One of the decisions I needed to make was whether to rent a truck, or to rent a car and pull his belongings North in a trailer.

Making this decision required guesstimating the weight of his possessions in order to determine what size trailer to get, if we went that route. The Penske website contained charts and data as regards weight loads and instructions about weight distribution. It was while reading this info that I recalled to mind the YWAMers’ foolishness.

The problem they encountered was a matter of physics. It was not spiritual warfare. The solution was not “more faith” and “more prayer.” The weight of all their belongings was more than the tires could bear. Why had no one considered this?


That these young people were earnest was a given. Their interpretation of the facts proved to be flawed.

Since their experience must have made an impression on them, I’m curious how they would interpret it today. Isn’t that what much of life is about? We have experiences, and then try to interpret them.

Before we make fun of the characters in this drama, let’s recognize that we also can make a similar mistake. All too often we lock into an easy, convenient solution that blocks us from discovering real solutions. The result can be bad investments, broken relationships and blowups at work. Before we blame the Devil let’s first try a modicum of common sense.

What do you think?