Hello church! Last week I arrived back in Toronto marking the end of our ten day, overseas mission trip to the country Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America. I was asked by Pastor Caleb to share a testimony about the trip – so here I am.
First off, although it’s my mission testimony, it was our mission. This mission was made possible because of you guys – the church. I believe every single member contributed to making this mission possible, and for that I thank you, and for that – be very glad. I am so thankful to be part of a church that doesn’t just sit idly waiting for someone else to “do it” but instead is willing to send people and financially support them overseas to bless other parts of the world. Church is a team sport, and our church is amazing at it. So I just wanted to encourage you all and remind you even if you don’t physically board a plane and go on missions – your support for the church and mission team is still doing the work of God, and I believe God is just as pleased.
We visit the same church in Nicaragua every year – the church Los Solices. There serves a missionary named Pastor Manuel. Every year we go and build up the church literally (by building infrastructure) and spiritually (by encouraging and serving the church body). The last few years our teams have installed lights, ceiling fans, sealed the church walls, built a stone perimeter, and supported the church in building a new terrace. This year we built (well our brother Sunghun, the carpenter) a new podium for the pastor. We engaged the children with day camp activities, we taught dances, how to play the recorder, taekwondo, while the older young adults and parents attended seminars. We set up an Olympics day for the community and it was actually so exciting. Everyone young and old came and create a loud but powerfully moving event.
On Sunday we had a huge feast inviting the whole village. We bought 50lbs of chicken and tons of rice and gave it to the locals to cook. It was a huge success. Meanwhile, we knew we were impacting these people’s lives through serving and loving them. It was evident by their smiles. Some would just come up randomly to us and hug us saying thank you. Some would come ask for prayer. One girl even asked me, on our last day, to come home with her. Through our ministry I believe we strengthened the church and served the people. We prayed for the people there and gave them our full effort and attention. The thing about Nicaraguan culture is that apparently it’s viewed as a sign of weakness if men come to church. So men rarely come to church. In fact, for the last three years the male turnout rate has been very minimal. But this year, we had lots of men come out. More and more men are beginning to open up to the idea of a church community. For this I praise God. The children were so precious and their smiles so genuine. I found their energy to be contagious where eventually I was just monkeying around with them. Okay, on a complete side note: I met this adorable little boy there, and you wouldn’t believe what his name is. His name is Nacho. Nacho. I thought that was amazing.
We also did ministry in another region called Leon. There we built furniture for the locals like bookshelves and tables. My translator friend Uram and I built a bookshelf together. It wasn’t the best quality, but it was with the best intentions. And who knew two days later I would see it in someone’s home, hung from the wall, upside-down, not even used as a bookshelf but as a kitchen cupboard. And who knew the smiles and hugs we’d receive from the family thanking us for the furniture. And who knew the joy that would well up in my heart seeing the work of our hands blessing the people around us? I think God knew. I think that is why God sent us. God sent us to love people, not just with our lips, not just with our words. God sent us to go and better the lives of the people in Nicaragua. To be generous with our money, time and love. To display the love of God through our constant serving and affirming words. And so though my body was at boot camp, my spirit was in wonderland.
Yet I believe God also sent them to us. To show us something incredible. It’s a feeling that I still can’t shake off. That thousands of kilometers away, with dozens of countries in-between, with a culture so different, with languages incongruent, that the same living God would be worshiped and praised. That the same living God could be making disciples of love and harmony. And that very God is why all of us, those of Nicaragua and those of Canada were able to meet, hold hands, pray and sing together in a beautiful image of unity. Nothing brings people together like love. And God is love. I guess we can say, no one brings people together like God.