After visiting El Salvador last year on a medical mission trip, I felt called to return. I was unsure of what this might look like, but after much time in prayer, I felt a peace that this was something I was supposed to do. I got connected with La Red through a mutual friend who is actively involved with this ministry in El Tunco. After speaking with Andrea Castellanos, the mission’s Director at La Red, I felt an immediate confidence that the heart behind this ministry was something I believed in and that their mission was something I wanted to be a part of. Though this meant temporarily stepping away from my job as a physical therapist, I had an unexplainable assurance that this was where I was supposed to be. Two days before I was leaving, I got an e-mail from Andrea saying that there was a Christian Surfers mission team that not only was arriving on the same day, but would be on my same flight to El Salvador. Later I would find out that majority of the team and I live in the same small beach town, St. Augustine, Florida. This was such an answered prayer because traveling alone was one of my biggest apprehensions about the trip.
I first met the Christian Surf team as we waited to board our flight. I felt expectant that God was going to move in a big way in the next week, but my expectations were far exceeded! Words and even pictures and videos can’t quite capture all that happened. After engaging and observing throughout the week, I had the opportunity to witness every member of the team using their specific gifts and talents for a common goal: to love and encourage our brothers and sisters in El Tunco and the surrounding communities. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 it says:
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
This was so clearly displayed throughout the week. Though we had a corporate itinerary with various activities including distributing groceries, visiting a local orphanage, hosting a community wide movie night and serving at a surf contest, there was also freedom and flexibility that allowed each team member to serve and glorify God in their own unique way.
In coming to El Salvador to serve, I personally feet that I have received far more than I could ever give. Every testimony shared has strengthening my faith. Each smile exchanged and the laughter shared has increased my joy. All the prayers and words of encouragement have refreshed my spirit and strengthened me in my walk. And the beauty of El Salvador repeatedly leaves in me awe and reverence at the handiwork of God.
After my experience with La Red and Christian Surfers, I truly believe the only prerequisite to serve is a willing heart. It doesn’t matter if you just graduated from high school or if you’re a mom with grown children. Whether you’re mature in your faith or you’re a new believer. Whether you’re an expert surfer or have never touched a surfboard. If you’re willing to say “yes” to God’s call, there is a need for your gifts and talents, your experiences and, above all, your presence.