Many people have asked me “How was your trip?” in the weeks after returning from Guatemala. Admittedly, I did not know how to answer, nor did I really want to answer especially those who’d never been on a trip. How do you sum up an ongoing life altering experience in a few sentences? But, thanks to help from Kristi & Identify, I was able to do it…
I learned that God can and will use me powerfully when I’m obedient to His call and prompting, and I trust in Him to give me the words and direction.
Drama, trials and fears are normal things to experience and feel in preparing for a mission trip.
Before I left for Guatemala this year I felt anxious.
Afraid of not being accepted
1 of 3 males on the trip of 20 women and most of them teens
Lonely, the only single guy on the trip travelling without family
Afraid of not being effective (will God really use me? Will I fumble in translating?)
Afraid of God not using me
Sad because my children don’t want to go with me on a mission trip
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)
I don’t doubt the usual way. What if I don’t receive? What if He doesn’t answer?
I believe in God and that He can answer prayer and move in situations
My doubt lies in will He show up for me and through me or will He answer me and when?
So… How and where did God show up?
2 days before I left for Guatemala, I hosted a Powerful, spirit filled night of prayer, worship, prophecy and anointing on Wednesday by my small group. I was prayed over, prophesied over and it was a touching, beautiful experience.
God began whispering to me and filling me with Hope, Worth, Joy and Favor in that experience that continued into the trip.
Because I speak Spanish, It’s not unusual for called upon to speak on behalf of the group. In the 5 min van ride from the church to the homeless shelter Catherine casually mentions I might be called upon to share a testimony and/or pray for the people of the shelter
Anxiety crept in… what would I say? I am not prepared!
Immediately God impressed on me to share a very personal part of my story that is difficult and embarrassing for me to admit, not to these homeless people who don’t know me, but in front of the rest of our own group! What will they think of me???
Really, God? Yes, really Warren…
I had NO idea how what God wanted me to share would even come up to be able to do it? How is that going to get worked into a message from Pastor Saul???
Well, at least I would be speaking in Spanish, so maybe not everyone would understand or get it.
Pastor Saul began to preach and talk about Christ’s love and what many peoples lives were like, including his own, before Christ. Specifically addictions… alcohol, drugs gambling…
OK God you have my attention… now what?
Then Pastor Saul turns to me, shoves the mic into my hands, and asks me a direct question… what was MY life like before Jesus?
God heavily impressed on me to be real. He literally opened my mouth and the words began to spill out as I shared with everyone how God had delivered me.
Then, God impressed on me to pray over them how much God loves and cares about them no matter what, and how I want to see each and every one of them in Heaven!
I had NO idea what I was going to pray… The Holy Spirit showed up and gave me the words.
This had been God’s perfectly orchestrated the timing, words and delivery of the message… You’d have thought the whole thing was planned, but it wasn’t!
I also couldn’t help but wonder if God is calling me to preach or pastor? That experience was as close as I’ve even been to doing that, and it scares me.
Teen Bible study. I was serving as translator for Reed. The group was ALL females from 14 to 17 years old… and here we are… two dudes… how are WE going to relate to them? At least Reed is a teen!
Then, God moved… He sent Alyssa, Kimberlyn and Ashton to the room.
I learned later that they felt prompted to come and help us.
Between Reed’s awesome lesson and the girl’s obedience to the Spirit’s prompting, a real, genuine connection was made with the teen girls
Why? THAT is the Holy Spirit in action!
What did I learn from this? God wants me to be radically obedient.
To open my eyes and heart to a deeper level.
To grow me as a leader and a follower.
To face my fears of rejection / acceptance.
What does it mean to be radically obedient? According to a devotional by Pastor Rick Warren that I read when I got back home, it’s “A willingness to do anything, go anywhere, pay any price, plus an identification of my gifts and others' needs.”
Warren pointed out all of the things the Apostle Paul had to endure… frustration, abuse, broken plans, embarrassment and ridicule.
But, Those things made Paul a better missionary and communicator.
Why? They made him more believable and real to others who knew the pain.