I knew in preparing to go to Guatemala for the second time, things would be different. I was making the trip solo, in that my dear friend now called the country home and was no longer a visitor. In all the ways things would be different, I was prepared God would still have plenty to show me.
It's been about a week since I came back, and I still experience one of the crazy things that happens when you return from a trip like mine-- you nearly burst to tell everyone around you all the things you experienced. That's why I want to share three things that God showed me, reminded me about, and gifted me with while in Guatemala.
1. People need Jesus
I love America. Flushable toilet paper puts us up pretty high in my book. Despite our issues, we have a lot going for us! It's not always so easy to see our desperate need for Jesus. Anytime you go to a country where the majority of people live below the poverty line, you don't have to look far to see hurting people. While there are often physical needs, there are also spiritual needs. People's need for Jesus becomes much more obvious when they can't hide it behind comfort and material things.
Here's the kicker- there are people everywhere that need Jesus. Right here, there are people that are broken and desperate and need Jesus. We just don't make it quite as obvious. My pastor summed it up perfectly this weekend when he said, "Our comfort level works as an anesthetic on our hearts; masking our desperate need for God."
This reminder gave me a challenge. It's easy for me to see that people need Jesus in Guatemala. However, Jesus has called me to Statesboro, Georgia. It's completely different, but the truth remains that people need Jesus. What am I going to do about that? Am I going to go after and pray for the people in small town America as energetically and passionately as I do the people in Guatemala?
2. People are Answering the Call
There are all kinds of people who are completely sold out to the call that God has given them. They move away from their family, friends, and the comforts of home to take hope to people. Just witnessing that faithfulness for a week is encouraging!
The fact is, not all of us are called to give it all up and move to Guatemala. There are times when I wish I was! (More on that in a minute). That's one of the most beautiful things about the Church! We are all called to go and make disciples, but we do that in so many different ways.
How are you answering the call to go and make disciples right where you are? How can you support those who are answering that call in foreign countries? Will you join them in prayer? Will you give to them financially?
3. Your Past/Circumstances do not Define You
This one is pretty personal for me. There are things in my life that I wish weren't the way they are. Don't get me wrong, I am blessed beyond what I can imagine, but there are some things that affect you even if you wish they didn't. So much of my relationship with Jesus has been walking through different things and understanding why things are the way they are (often having to accept that I won't know why).
These kids didn't do anything to bring about their circumstances. They didn't do anything to become orphans. They often struggle with their past. They often struggle with the void of not having a parent to love on them.
In the number of years I have walked with God, nothing has been a more meaningful gift from my loving father, than looking at these kids and not seeing orphans, but seeing beautiful, loving children. There's nothing much more profound than that. As I went through the week in Guatemala, God kept speaking to me about how these kids are not defined by their past and neither am I. I heard someone say once that our past may explain us but it does not define us.
God gave me a huge gift by allowing me to witness that truth first hand. What is God speaking to you about your past? What do you need to allow him in to, in order to heal and move beyond your past?
One final thing. There are times when I wish God would send me somewhere like Guatemala. There are days when I don't care where he's called me, I'm tempted to jump on a plane and go anyways. That's one of the biggest things I've had to process through upon returning home. It's so frustrating to experience God somewhere and then come home and feel like you're dropped right back in the middle of petty, silly, pointless struggles. It's easy for me to experience the gospel in Guatemala. Maybe it's because no one can communicate with me, so I don't feel involved in the petty things of life. Maybe it's because I'm prepared to experience God and I'm actively seeking him. I have a feeling that second part is right.
I don't want to have to go thousands of miles away to experience God like I do in Guatemala; to experience the gospel. What am I going to do about that? What are we going to do about that?
I think it's a daily fight against apathy. I think we have to fight against allowing our comfort to numb our hearts towards people and the gospel. We can't just show up and expect God to move in our hearts. How are we preparing to engage God? What things in our lives are hindering us from that? There are people that need Jesus right here.