This year I had the privilege of joining the mission team to serve in Nicaragua. It was my first time returning after 6 years and I had such an incredible time. I was thankful for many things during the trip but I’d like to share a couple of those moments with you today. In Nicaragua, we served a church called Los Solices in the city of Managua. This is a church in the countryside that Mokmin mission teams have been returning for the past 5 years. Unlike any other year, we tried something new and asked for 5 youth volunteers from the local community to help us lead Vacation Bible Study. For VBS, they were given roles as team leaders and it was truly amazing to see their energy, patience, and humility through the activities we had planned. These were youth that had never experienced being in leadership positions before. They had never led worship and were only used to be served. Yet they were doing everything with such eagerness and joy. Through the youth volunteers, I got a glimpse of their servant hearts and witnessed how God was planning to use them to build up Los Solices church.
Our VBS had gathered 150-200 children from the community which was incredible. But Pastor Manuel, the pastor of Los Solices, shared that only 8-12 of those children show up to Sunday service. Although this was a difficulty he faced, he shared how happy he was to see the youth serve. He had never seen them behave in such ways and was amazed by how God was working through them. While we served Los Solices, he continuously express his thankfulness over and over again. Out of all the children who came to VBS, one child that I remember very well is a boy named Ramon. He was one of the few children who came early to help us prepare and stayed late to help us clean up. One day, we went on a prayer walk around the community and had the opportunity to pray for his mother. At that time, Ramon ran into his house to grab an item and it turned out to be a picture frame that he had made with our mission team 2 years ago. Inside the frame was a photo of him with one of our church members. When I saw Ramon hold tightly onto the photo showing everyone in our group, it became more clear to me how much these children wait for us throughout the year. I felt a rush of emotions and a confirmation to do whatever it takes to make Nicaragua missions an annual part of my life. I realized that what may seem like just one week of missions to us, is the one week out of a whole year that these children eagerly wait for. The one week spent making memories with them is the very week that proves language is not a barrier for God’s love. It’s the week that God shows us his continuous faithfulness again. That one week is so precious and meaningful and I was so thankful to be a part of it.
A couple years ago, I had a conversation with a friend who gave me a statement that challenged my thoughts on short term mission trips. This friend asked me if I really thought I was helping people in these foreign countries by going, serving, and loving them for a week, only to return home to my regular life. The point he was trying to get across was that going and loving these people for such a short period of time would only hurt them more in the long run. Although it was a perspective I never had before, it influenced me to feel uncomfortable with short term missions. I feel regretful and sad to think that I allowed a different perspective, aside from God’s, impact me so negatively. While I held this as a regret, God showed me the beauty of short term missions through this trip and the power it can have on his people. I realized what a blessing it is to have an opportunity to return to the same community each year and serve the same people. Inviting youth volunteers to join us this year was very meaningful and our team felt that God was leading us to not only serve, but disciple the youth each year so that they can help Pastor Manuel build disciples of Christ at Los Solices church.
After our time there, we went to a different city called Leon to serve in a mission center. We brought along the 5 volunteers with us and Pastor Manuel and two parents also joined us. It was the first time the youth were leaving their small community in the countryside. And to be honest, when I saw their reactions of being in the city, my heart broke. But I was grateful that God created this opportunity for them to experience something new with us. They helped us lead a one-day youth camp and again it was incredible seeing their eagerness to serve and participate. When it was time for them to go back home, they shared how thankful they were to join us and that they wanted to do it again next year. I was very thankful for the relationships we built and their heart that God revealed to us all.
The very last ministry we took part in was holding a seminar that served 20 local pastors. These were pastors who had very passionate hearts about ministry but were struggling from the fact that they were in Nicaragua. During the seminar, Pastor Cho, a member of our mission team, introduced House Church ministry to everyone. He shared what it was about, its purpose of restoring the New Testament church, and how we practice this as a lifestyle to follow what Jesus did. As a shepherd of Every Nation House Church, I had the opportunity to share a testimony with everyone. Somehow the raw feelings and experiences I shared had touched the hearts of the pastors and their wives. As they continued to thank me in Spanish, I felt that God was planning to start something amazing. Earlier this year, Pastor Manuel had also attended a House Church Seminar. As he shared a testimony on what he learned, the pastors showed so much interest in House Church and had endless questions on how they could start. Coming to the realization that this country is hungry for something more than just a Sunday church had me so thankful for House Church ministry again. With this, we hope to hold official House Church Ministry Seminars in the future, so that these pastors may join in on restoring the New Testament church in Nicaragua. Being part of this introduction was a huge blessing for me to experience.
From the very start of this trip, our team encountered multiple unexpected events. We had numerous flight delays and the airline lost one of our member’s luggage. We were stuck at Pearson airport for 12 hours and had to stay overnight in Miami as well. Initially, I believed that anyone’s response to such situations would be annoyance, stress, and a sense of entitlement; but to my surprise, our team had such a different response. Not one member complained about the situation nor did anyone feel the need to. Although we slept on airport chairs, moved from gate to gate, and ate meals on the floor, those small moments were somehow so joyful. I felt that God was bonding our team by creating new memories through those long hours and letting us experience His joy in all circumstances. Even now, I am most thankful for my team members and the way God used all of our different personalities to compliment one another on this trip.
Thank you all so much for supporting our mission team this year. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for everyone’s faithful prayers and financial support. My prayer request this year is for many members of The Seed to join me when I return to Nicaragua next year, so that we can all take part in this wonderful work that God is accomplishing. Thank you for listening and I look forward to experiencing God’s goodness with you next year.