The Missionary Calling in Guatemala.
I never cease to be amazed at how God works.
From the simple seemingly mundane things in life, to the marvelous workings of the universe, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
When we first came to Guatemala 12 years ago, a part of me thought it was going to be like an extended mission trip in which we would spend four months serving and then return to our normal lives.
How different things turned out. I look back over the years at the many places we have served, the people we have helped, the classes we have taught and, most importantly, the individuals we have helped to walk closer to Christ. What to some may seem like a discombobulated, random trek, I see as an amazing journey with each task building upon the last and each challenge better preparing me to meet the next. The obstacles and impossible situations I faced were actually God working to build my faith so that through His power I might be willing to take on seemingly unfeasible undertakings with limited resources, and succeed. At the end of the day I was simply following His plan. I understood that the work I did was His and His alone and that I served only to accomplish His will and to glorify Him.
When we started serving in Guatemala, there was one thing I knew; I wanted my service to matter; I wanted to serve, and serve well.
"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;" Romans 12:11. I wanted to give the best I had to those whom Christ placed in my path. Over the years that has meant many things: delivering food, feeding the hungry, giving out clothes, building furniture for orphanages, painting walls in schools, teaching classes, setting up vocational training programs, helping other missionaries with their projects, assisting and transporting mission teams, engaging in mass evangelism, speaking on TV, praying with people, praying for people, sharing the Gospel on a personal level, teaching Bible studies, and in each and every case, sincerely trying, with my whole heart to do the best job I could at the task set before me.
There have been many times over the years when I have thought that the particular ministry I was involved in was the best way to serve, and if I only had more resources and better support, it would change the world.
Last week the teenage girls from the orphanage Fundaninos were in our home for the youth meeting and Bible study we hold. They surprised me with a father’s day card and shared about the impact I had in their lives, they thanked me for being there for them, for teaching them, spending time with them, caring for them and loving them. In that moment, I truly saw the fullness of the ministry God had given me. It wasn’t in the excellence of my classes or the perfection of my programs; it was in the hearts of the girls before me.
Of all that I had done for them over the years to prepare them for life and teach them God’s Word, the true value of the work I had done was in the relationships built with the abused, orphaned or abandoned young ladies who now saw me as a father.
One cannot demand such a title, and I never did. I never tried to be “their father”, I never tried to be “their dad”, but in all my interactions with them, I treated them with respect, I listened to them, I prayed with them, I cared for them, I engaged them on the topics they enjoyed talking about, I didn’t tell them I loved ... I showed them I loved them. At the end of the day, that is much of what a father does.
Yes, I’m still passionate about my projects; I want to set up and run effective vocational training programs where we can teach these kids valuable skills that can enable them to earn a good living, I want to create jobs and businesses that provide good employment in a Christian work environment that pays a living wage to orphaned children who lack a viable support structure.
I want the orphanages and schools where I work to not just provide good care, but to strive for excellence in caring for those they are responsible for. I want to see the heart of the Church broken for the fatherless and believers giving of their time to care for the needy.
But, regardless how many of my other dreams come to pass, I know the essence of my calling, and it is the same regardless of what I do.
I woke up the next day reinvigorated and ready for the job at hand.
My mission is to love the unloved with a love that flows from a God of love. My duty is not just to preach Gods love, but to demonstrate God‘s love. My passion is to see to it that God is glorified in all we do, because we are doing what He would have us do, how He would want us to do it.
Christ says in Mark 12:30-31, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
I have known that verse since I was a child, but the power of that verse is not just in knowing it, it is in living it. And, at the end of the day, if we have embodied that love in whatever we have done, we will have accomplished what truly matters.