Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Just Plain Love

The view was beautiful and at times, terrifying! Oswald, dedicated missionary and driver extraordinaire, skillfully guided the monstrous bus around the deadly mountain curves as if he were at the wheel of a turbo charged Porsche and squeezed it through narrow town streets with the ease of a kid on a bicycle. Arriving safely at the ministry site was always a cause for celebration for many reasons, but the true causes for celebration were yet to come!

The leaders of the towns selected for the ministry sites had selflessly served for years, and the joy they and others in the towns were feeling was the result of answered prayer. 47 people from the United States and a mighty contingent of Word of Life Guatemala Missionaries were on a mission from God to bind wounds and heal broken hearts. The team had come to Guatemala from the United States with hearts full of love and hands possessing top-notch skills to offer an array of services to a community that was long overdue for medical and dental care. There were dentists, counselors, pharmacy experts, a chiropractor, general practitioners, an Oral and Maxillo-Facial Surgeon, pastors and some just plain nice folks – all of whom were volunteering their time and talents in Jesus’ Name to reach out and bless others in need.

The week was a well coordinated ballet of equipment and caring people ready to serve. Once the practitioners were in place, the ballet unfolded with each patient being interviewed and having the opportunity to have both spiritual and physical needs addressed. The Medical Practitioners involved carried out their duties with the skill, humor and flexibility of a M.A.S.H. unit, taking on all problems with the utmost professionalism, yet never failing to pray for, hug and love their patients with tenderness and care. Lives were touched in simple yet powerful ways: smiles were restored, pain was relieved, hearts were mended and souls were saved.

I enjoyed the privilege of encouraging team members in the evenings during our devotional times, while being encouraged myself throughout the days with laughter, silliness and other joy-filled expressions as the team spurred each other on in gracious and uplifting ways. Of course, there were tears too – tears from pain, tears of relief and tears of compassion. If I had to sum up what the experience was all about, I’d have to say, “Just plain love!” Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul mind and strength…and…to love your neighbor as yourself.”

The team members of this medical mission love God and love the people He has created. These angels of mercy took a look at their calendars and chose to take time that might have been used for personal vacations or carefree getaways and elected instead to serve people who needed a little bit of help and a whole lot of love. The Guatemalan Missionaries and ministers who set the stage for the mission and provided unfailing encouragement and logistical support were united in purpose and spirit were equally dedicated and made the contributions of the Medical team a practical possibility. The fruit of the combined efforts of these dedicated people of faith impacted lives for the weeks ahead and touched souls for eternity.

A few days back from the mission, I find myself a little bit weary of body, but totally electrified in spirit! I am thankful for friends and loved ones who supported the trip with prayer, words of affirmation and love. I thank my many friends over the years who have helped me to maintain a foundational level of proficiency in Spanish that allowed me to make meaningful contributions in communication and ministry during the week. I am thankful for my church and immediate family for allowing me to travel and share the Good News of Jesus’ love in places that are sometimes far from home. I am thankful to the Lord for His love and for the privilege of sharing His love with others no matter where I go and look forward to every opportunity to be on mission for Him – here, there and everywhere!

I invite all of you to look for opportunities to be on mission for God as well. You don’t need a suitcase. You don’t need a degree or credentials either. You only need a tender heart and loving hands with a willingness to use them for the blessing and healing of others. Join me in doing God’s work in the world. Start your mission with just plain love.

Until Next time,

Sam J.