The Music Man

Pastor Doug Dawson from Open Arms in Tillsonburg, ON shared this story about Leonel who was a regular at Brazos Abiertos, an outreach ministry for Spanish speaking migrant workers.

We may never see Leonel again and that is good news.  This statement doesn’t make a lot of sense without Leonel’s back story. For the past three years Leonel was one of many Mexican men who dropped in to Brazos Abiertos each summer and fall. This outreach drop in centre is located on the main street of Tillsonburg is run by volunteers from Open Arms and others.

Leonel had come to Canada for many years to work in the tobacco fields. He would leave his wife and family in Mexico for up to five months at a time. Upon returning to Mexico each fall he would have to get to know his family all over again. These long absences often take a heavy toll on families.


Brazos Abiertos tries to meet the practical needs of those who drop in.   Leonel is a musician when at home in Mexico and plays brass instruments.  He told some of the volunteers at Brazos Abiertos that he was looking for a valved trombone which is a relatively rare instrument.  As it turned out a neighbour of  Pastor Doug’s had such a trombone and Leonel was able to purchase it at a great price.

The following year when Leonel returned to Canada he asked for help locating a tuba and trumpet. The trumpet was easily found locally and the tuba found its way from Sudbury, ON with help from Pastor Jason Tripp.  Volunteers were then able to coordinate a ride for the tuba back to Mexico.

This year when Brazos Abiertos opened its doors there was no Leonel.  Volunteers asked some of his friends about Leonel and they said  that he would probably never return to Canada for work again as he was now making enough money in Mexico as a musician.  No doubt he and his family are thrilled. 

Oh and by the way, after hearing the gospel and seeing it in action at Brazos Abiertos Leonel became a Christian.  And that is the best news.