Have you ever wondered if your attempts at making a difference, actually do?
Last year I went on an eleven month mission trip called the World Race. We partnered with ministries, or at times went in searching for opportunities, in eleven different countries. Generally, we spent one month in each country working, teaching, and assimilating into the culture.
For my tenth month, my team and I went to El Tunco, El Salvador. There, we met our host Andrea Castellanos and her family, and came alongside their ministry and church, La Red. We worked in the communities of El Tunco and Majahual, planned the La Casita program for kids for their summer break, helped with the discipleship program at Remar Orphanage, assisted with La Red services/women’s Bible study, among other things.
Before my team and I headed to our last country, I spoke with Andrea about returning to work with her and her community. Fortunately for me, she was super stoked! I’ve been here for a month now and three weeks ago we were honored to have a Christian Surfers (CS) team come for one week. In total, there were ten of us (including Andrea), and we were all in!
It reminded me of something Jesus said to His disciples in John 13:35. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The world would know them by their love.
I watched it happen when Caleb became a wild gorilla, dolphin, or robot for the kids in Majahual, and they were practically in tears from laughing so hard! It quietly overwhelmed people every time Jean stayed back behind the team to personally introduce herself to the family we just prayed over, and a little extra with each hug she offered and the way her eyes held all of her affection towards them.
When anyone got into a conversation with Ruben about surfing or El Salvador, the excitement couldn’t escape his lips fast enough except for the moments when he was smiling too big to speak. I could hear it with each pause after the click of the camera, that Nick’s heart was in each story he could capture, trying to retain it not only on film but in his memory too.
I could hear it every time Gracie laughed too hard from running away or chasing kids everywhere we went; they were always instant best friends with giggles that could last a lifetime! When there was a child or an animal around, you could see it they way Mallory snuck off to admire their beauty- especially when it was the ones most would not want to admire. I could hear it every time Lisa cackled in a way that made everyone else burst out in the same harmony!
I could see it in the way Jacob always led the team to encourage the local CS guys; like a caterpillar all the moving parts follow the head. Not only did he ensure that all the pieces of the body were cherished, but he managed to get it moving to where it needed to be. And I could feel it every time Andrea translated with empathy, and offered a sincere invitation to step out in faith without pressure.
Love is only love when offered with a full and sincere heart. Love is not selfish or conditional. The team didn’t offer their encouragement by focusing on trying to ‘make a difference’, they focused on the people and sought ways to love them. By their sincerity and intentionality, the people in El Tunco and Majahual knew they were of the Lord.
It has been two weeks since the team went home, and I can still see the fruit of what they brought. There’s a new spirit here and at the core, it is a Spirit of Hope. The local CS guys have hope to be able to carry out their ministry in their communities. The families in Majahual have hope of the Lord’s provision and healing. There’s been a revival in the hearts of the people simply because of love.
The things the Lord stirred in these communities with the CS team didn’t stop when they left. Things of the Lord are eternal, and therefore He continues to work in them long after people leave. However, that is the thing about working with La Red; they are still here. Teams come in with passion and a desire to go hard while they’re here, but the Lord uses Andrea and each team to keep the momentum going. The Lord is building a House here. The Lord gives each person bricks when they come, and La Red offers the opportunity to labor not in vain, but in building the Kingdom on earth. (Psalm 127:1). Remember to give your bricks, there will always be more where they came from.
Have you ever wondered if your attempts at making a difference, actually do? If your attempts are laced with love, I assure you it does.