Getting back from Orientation, people seem to be asking a similar question. “What did you learn in your training?” I have learned to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Seems simple enough. However, I have been convicted of how my focus so easily shifts off of Jesus and onto myself. When I am going to the store to get ice cream, then my mind is naturally on that fact. It takes intentionality to be willing to witness in the grocery store. Truly, it is a humbling task to trust God in my local grocery store, fixing my mind on Him and how He may lead me into a conversation. I don’t want to miss out on sharing Christ with others because my mind is focused on which flavor of ice cream I want. The Lord has left me feeling empowered, encouraged, thankful, and strengthened. I’m excited to proclaim the name by which I was saved!
Tomorrow I leave for New York for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel! Would you please join me in prayer:
- Pray that I am always attentive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
- Pray that we are able to find and speak into the Latino community.
- Pray that our team is unified in Christ Jesus and relying on one another for support.
- Pray that lost people would have ears to hear the message of the gospel and faith to receive it.
- Pray that I would be obedient to Christ and trust in His sovereignty and power.
- Pray that I profess the name of Jesus Christ boldly, being attentive to the Holy Spirit and his leading.
- Pray that I willingly and passionately share my testimony with others.
- Pray that I seek the face of Jesus intentionally throughout the day.
Efraín has been making pretzels at Mr. Pretzels in the mall, located in Richmond, Virginia. He is a middle-aged Latino from Guatamala. Efraín smiles behind the pretzel counter as he asks what his customers would like to eat or drink. He grew up with evangelical parents in his home. He doesn’t know what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
There are people who have heard, haven’t heard, and somewhere in the middle. Only by Christ in me can I truly speak the truth of the gospel. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can I overcome my own fears and lovingly tell others about Him. I am so thankful for my biblical education. The preparation and equipping has been essential to my own growing in my faith. However…my mental state was swallowed whole by books, papers, and projects. My focus here has been much more practical for training to go out onto the mission field. Training has been very helpful in practicing the Great Commission.
19 [e]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you[f]always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19-20).
There are those without hope. Those without a reconciling and redeeming relationship with God. Those on their way to destruction. How will they hear if I do not open my mouth?!
I can’t believe I have spent seven weeks in Mexico. It’s amazing how I have begun to get more comfortable with the culture over time. Riding a bus isn’t exciting anymore; it’s just a way to get from place to place. Going to the market becomes less overwhelming because I am on a mission. Seeing and smelling a variety of smells including mole, chocolate, tacos, fruit, and raw meat is part of life. Understanding how many pesos something costs is easy because I have heard it 100 times. I can walk to the nearest store, salon, and taco stand and no matter where I go someone will try to sell me something.
As I become more familiar with the culture I have recognized the small things that get on my nerves. I have come to realize that the brand new of a culture wears off over time. With time comes comfort and with comfort comes annoyance. That is why preparation before leaving is so important. No place is paradise, and life isn’t a walk in the park. I know this, but often forget when visiting another place. Experiencing seven weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico gives me a different perspective then I would have in a weeks’ time here. I am thankful that God prepares hearts and strengthens His people to look beyond and work within culture. Through relationships Christ unifies His believers and brings together people of different cultures. The culture unified in and through Christ is different than others because it brings all types of people together. No matter what state, culture, city, or town, the Holy Spirit is at work and moving. I am blessed to see the Holy Spirit unifying beautiful hearts. There is an indescribable beauty, and passion in the unity that only Christ can bring.
It was a wonderful retreat week in Huatulco, Mexico. I really enjoyed the sun, seafood, and beaches. During the morning and evening our supervisors held a meeting. Our supervisor J discussed the word call. We defined call through the use of scripture and examples from scripture. Personally, I get excited when talking about this subject because I feel I understand some of it. It was good to hear some clear definitions and examples. We discussed three different types of call. The first is a universal call to Christian service. Every believer has this calling according to Scripture (1 Peter 1:15). The call to serve involves future (Eph. 1:13), family (1 Cor. 12:13), and function. We have been given different gifts in order to serve (1 Cor. 12:1-11). The second calling was the call to leadership. Many believers are called to lead like the apostle Peter (Luke 5:1-11). The third call was a specific call to ministry. This call is more than a feeling and requires preparation.
As believers, we are called to serve Christ. That is a clear, undeniable calling in Scripture. Followers of Christ have been sealed and baptized of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13, 1 Cor. 12:13). Believers are to serve and function like Christ in and outside the church family. I believe the Lord has called me to serve, lead, and go. Wherever I go I will serve and wherever I serve I will lead. God has clarified these calls in my life through relationships and life. The third calling is specifically to missions. This calling was placed in me at a young age and has guided certain decisions in my life. My calling to missions includes my calling to serve and lead. Even in knowing these things it is difficult to continually place my trust in the Lord. I am very thankful for the strength, courage, and perseverance the Lord provides through prayer.
I can hardly believe I’m already two weeks away from being back at home. This week flew by in the village. On Tuesday, one of the village ladies taught us how to make tortillas. She fed our team a potato mole before the work began. The woman of the house can crank out 180 tortillas in a day. Wednesday was our last day in the secondary school with the kids. Our team took a short English quiz and played hot potato. If they had the potato they had to say one of the new English words that they had learned. Then the kids threw us a surprise party! There were all kinds of special goodies that they had made for us. The teachers and director of the school thanked us in front of the entire class for our English lessons. They told the team their door would be open for us anytime. One of the kids our team had grown close to, give us presents. It was a very giving and loving time.
During the beginning of my time here I realized that I was comparing this trip to my week trip in Nicaragua. I felt like things were pretty slow in the village, especially when comparing. There was so much time and I didn’t know where to start. However, towards the end of the trip I have recognized the beauty of long-term. Meaningful relationships are made over time. I have seen God use a week for his glory, but I prefer more time. Week mission trips are more difficult because you only have a few days. There is more pressure to choose your words carefully and it becomes difficult to focus on the relationship. I am not saying week mission trips aren’t useful. I have seen the Holy Spirit move and work in a weeks’ time. However, I do think that week mission trips can be more problematic. When there is a team that comes to conquer the heathen (pressure one into the Gospel) it can do more harm than help. Our specific village has a time that is runs by. I now know that it is best to work within that time. This takes patience, prayer, and reliance on the Holy Spirit.