The Beginning - WorshipMy wife, Kim, and I had the privilege and blessing of leading a short-term missions team to Colombia last month with Revealing Hope Ministries. This trip was our second missions trip overall but our first with Revealing Hope and our first to Colombia. (I should mention that this is the second year I have served on the Revealing Hope Board of Directors). This is my attempt to evaluate the experience, to reflect on the trip, what I saw and what God is teaching me. Two of our team members – my wife, Kim, (Colombia Mission Trip 2012) and Scott Lewis (Puerto Caldas, Mansome & Ecclesiastes), a long-time accountability partner – have already written about the trip. I will do my best not to repeat what they have written and to make this personal.
PreparationOur go team of six met three times in preparation for this trip. We worked through materials that Pete Stanke, the Executive Director of Revealing Hope, put together. We prayed together. We talked about expectations. We worked through devotionals to prepare us. The team also participated in the Revealing Hope Benefit Dinner in late May. But honestly, I struggled with preparation for this trip. The previous mission trip that Kim and I led to Braila, Romania in November 2011 through Harvest Bible Fellowship focused on small group leader training and biblical counseling training. So that team had to develop our teaching approach and the trainer and participant materials for the weekday sessions at Biserica Metanoia Braila and for a Saturday conference with several churches in Galati, Romania. Apart from the meetings, the devotionals and trying to focus on it in my quiet times with the Lord, I wasn't sure how to prepare for this trip. But a few things stuck out from the benefit dinner, our team meetings and communications:
- After seeing a video of the village we were going to serve in at the benefit dinner, I was even more drawn in and had an increased feeling that we had to go.
- Everyone on the team was struggling to feel prepared.
- Grace Johnson talked about and got us all praying that we would be able to quickly engage with the team at Seeds of Affection and with those they serve.
On the GroundAfter a quick night of sleep trying to adjust to a new country, the courtyard house we were staying in, a new bed and the temperature, we had some breakfast and were in the van headed out to Puerto Caldas and Seeds of Affection for the first time. Within a few minutes of arriving and being introduced to Jose and Pilar, the whole team was quickly at work preparing food for the lunch that would be served to many in the community. If you know me, first of all, stop laughing. Actually my lack of experience in the kitchen, being in a new place and having the language barrier was a good environment for me to be in that first day. There would be no level of comfort. It was simply a feeling of “I am here to serve in the name of Jesus.” And our whole team had the same approach. We were quickly working alongside the team at Seeds of Affection – an answer to that team prayer.
That first day in the midst of the lunch rush as hundreds were fed from the small building that Seeds of Affection operates from in Puerto Caldas, Pili (as her friends know her) asked me through a translator what I thought. I told Pili I was amazed at how many people were served, at the amount of activity in the space and perhaps even more so by the number and ages of those who served. Several of the girls immediately started serving and obviously were integral to what happens in the feeding program at Seeds of Affection.
One of the toughest parts of the trip for me to handle came up the second afternoon in Puerto Caldas. Jose and Pili had arranged for the team to go into several homes in the community to pray. The team drove up the road, split into smaller teams of 3-4 including a translator and went into homes. In two of the homes – in fairly similar, extremely meager circumstances – I saw the contrast between hope and despair. In the first home, the young mother had a smile on her face and the light of Jesus Christ shining in her eyes even as a tear slowly moved down from her left eye as she told us how we could pray for her and her family. In that second home we encountered a situation I was not prepared for. To avoid embarrassing anyone or any risk of coming across as condescending, I will not share the details here. The young mother in this home cried as we walked in, as she told us how we could pray for her and throughout our time of prayer. If she knew Jesus, the light and hope of our Savior was not yet shining brightly in her. I was greatly challenged to pray and really call out to God when I wanted to cry and just hug that family. But God knew that, which was a reassuring comfort right there as our team wrestled to minister to the young woman and her daughters through prayer in that moment.
We are Made to Worship
Now What?I don't yet know what all to do with my experience on this trip. I don't yet know all that Kim and I should do to help the people, especially the children and youth, of Puerto Caldas. I don't yet know what Revealing Hope Ministries can do and should do to partner effectively with Seeds of Affection. Here is what I have decided:
- I am compelled to pray, plan, act.
- We have to help and help soon to show our friends there that we are with them.
- I will not allow myself to turn my eyes and heart away from what I saw.