Reluctant Smuggler Discussion Questions by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

 1     At the beginning of the story, Desiree is using work to cover her grief over her dad’s death, rather than dealing with her

emotions.   What avoidance mechanisms do we sometimes use to keep from confronting the real issues in our lives?




  2.     President Montoya compliments Desiree’s perceptiveness to see the deeper motives behind Greybeck and Sons’ smear

campaign, rather than being swept away by emotions that could blind her to the real root of the attack.   Often we are tempted to become caught up in battling flesh and blood.  What Scriptures admonish us to look beyond the person to the dark forces working through them?   What methods can we use to combat those forces while walking in love toward those who behave badly toward us?




  3.     Tony runs into a sticky situation with his ex-partner’s prayer request about the woman Steve wants to marry. Tony strives to convey the truth without giving offense. Did he succeed?  Could he or should he have responded differently?   Have

you run into similar difficult situations with people who seek your prayers but not your Lord? How did you handle those situations?




  4.     Culture and environment can be huge factors in the choices  we make.   Zapopa’s grandson must choose between honoring his grandmother, as his culture dictates, or giving in to the hopelessness of his environment and staying with the gang.   In this instance, the former path happens to line up with Scripture, and the latter leads to destruction.  There are times

when both culture and environment can steer us wrong, and we must rise above those factors in order to follow God’s Word.

Name ways for good or ill that your culture or environment has molded you and influenced your choices.   Name  ways that you have defied those influences in obedience to Christ.   Name ways that you need to change in order to resist culture and environment and live a life pleasing to God.




5.     When Tony is in a coma, he faces a grave choice—continue physical life or go on to be with the Lord.   How much of afactor is our will in these matters of life or death?   Later in the story, what nonphysical battle must Tony win in order toassure his full recovery?   How important are our attitudes  about ourselves in determining outcomes in the issues of life?

Give examples from the Bible that illustrate this concept.




  6.     Why do you think Desi had so much trouble calling Tony’s mother “Mom”?   Was Max’s advice good in telling Desi to be

patient until that right moment came?   Do we sometimes trip up our relationships with others by trying to force things, or conversely, by resisting a call to deepen a relationship?  What finally broke through the barrier in Desi’s hear and cemented her mother-daughter relationship with Gina?




  7.     How did you feel about Tony’s gift to Desi on their wedding day?   What healing revelation did that gift inspire in her

heart?   Share a time when a gift in season changed your life.





8.       Tony and Desi have a deep conversation about the gang mentality.   Do you agree with Desi’s assessment that hopelessness is a prime factor influencing young people to form and join gangs?   Why or why not?   How important is a sense

of hope to any person, group, culture, or race?   What does  the Bible say about hope and the human spirit?




9.     El Jaguar does evil because he likes it. Clayton Greybeck appears to be a victim of upbringing and circumstance.   Forwhich person do you feel the most compassion?   Why?   Is that a purely human assessment?   How does God evaluateevil?      



10.     At the end of the story, Tony states that he and Desi must work hard to be worthy of a child’s trust.   Desi counters thatwork is involved, but worthiness is only by grace. What does  she mean by that?   How do we walk out that balance of work and grace—especially in our attempts to influence children for good?










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