My Account
Sign Up for an Account



Choose Password

Retype Password

Life on the margins

What is means to be considered ‘unclean’

Have you ever felt isolated? At some point in all of our lives, we have felt the sting of being left out. For most of us, it is a temporary feeling that resolves with time and changes in circumstances. For others, isolation can be a lifelong battle.

Antonio* can relate.

Antonio is an undertaker in Antequera, Spain. In his culture, undertakers are considered “unclean.” When Antonio takes his wife out to dinner, he has to sit at a special table with a plate and utensils reserved just for him. When he takes the hearse to get gas, the attendants won’t come near the car or pump his gas for him. Considered unclean because they handle the dead, undertakers live a life marginalized from the world around them.

Mission Society missionaries Billy and Laurie Drum serve in Antequera where they minister to refugees and the marginalized in their community.

“When we moved to Antequera, Antonio was the first friend we made. His hugs and warm smile made us feel welcome. He is a big teddy bear of a guy, a Santa Claus type. He is always smiling and joking around—a best friend to the world. We had no idea the pain he experienced on a daily basis and the ways he has suffered because of his occupation,” said Laurie.

“Antonio became Billy’s language helper for Spanish. Antonio has been a huge help to us in cultural matters—he is a trusted friend who will always tell us the truth and alerts us to cultural landmines that we would not have known without guidance. He introduces us to people, invites us to picnics and cookouts, and helps us get connected to opportunities to serve in our town.

“In our disciple group, Antonio is very attentive to the stories about Jesus’ treatment of the marginalized. He is highly participatory in our story discussions when it comes to lepers and the unclean and the unjust treatment of others. I have always been touched by his keen sense of understanding and compassion, and I have loved him for his tender heart during these studies. Yet I didn’t know until recently that this was Antonio’s story as well.

“One day I asked him, ‘Antonio, what does that do to your heart?’

“He took a deep breath, then he softened and his body changed. He smiled a little, the smile of realizing that someone just saw through to your soul. He responded, ‘You have to make your heart hard. Hard so it won’t hurt.’ His eyes brimmed with tears.

“’Obviously, it hurts, Antonio,’ I said. ‘Your heart is not hard.’

“He said, ‘Yes, sometimes it hurts. People make jokes about me, off-handed things that are funny to them. Even my friends tell jokes about me. I laugh and try to let it roll off. But my wife—it has been terrible for her. It hurts her deeply.’

“Antonio’s wife has suffered years of debilitating clinical depression. Many days, she cannot leave the house. Antonio, too, suffers from depression and several related health issues.

“Now I know why Antonio is passionate about the Jesus Who reached out to the unclean, the Jesus who touched lepers and had compassion for those who were shunned and cast out.

Antonio is intimately and passionately in love with the Jesus Who entered into death, Who had compassion for Lazarus, Who touched the dead, Who Himself was dead and experienced the tomb, and Who is now alive.

“I’m honored to call the undertaker my friend.”

*Pseudonym used for security purposes.