There are so many stories I want to share about our Belize mission trip but I think I’ll begin with this one because it had such an impact on me in terms of how God uses us when we yield to his will.
This is actually mostly my wife’s story but since she doesn’t have a blog…
So toward the end of our week in Belize, we (the group from our church) hosted a block party at the local church where we had been based throughout our tour, where we served about 600 hot dogs, had music blaring, played games, and just generally had a good time hanging out with the locals. After my wife Sonya had finished serving hot dogs, she noticed a young lady standing by herself nearby. Sonya isn’t generally prone to just go up to strangers and initiate conversations but something compelled her to do so in this case. She went over and introduced herself.
As the two ladies talked, it came up in the conversation that some people from our church had visited this lady’s home earlier in the week and brought food supplies. As Sonya listened, she began to realize that it was the group I was with that had visited (each visitation team had about 3 or 4 women and a guy). She shared this with the young lady, at which point, she began to really open up to my wife. We are not certain why. It may have been because she thought Sonya was the “pastor’s wife.” You see, I had delivered the sermon the previous Sunday and she had attended church that day so she remembered me when my group visited. She had remarked to Sonya “Oh, you are Pastor Travis’ wife.” In any case, the conversation started turning much more personal at this point and she suddenly seemed to feel more at ease sharing some very painful stories with Sonya.
She explained how her father had recently passed away and that she was one of eight children, often responsible for taking care of the others while her mother tried to make ends meet in very difficult circumstances. She told Sonya how she had, only a week earlier, actually decided to take her own life. She said that she had just felt overwhelmed by everything and didn’t feel she could take the pain and pressure anymore. Thankfully, she was unable to carry out her decision at the time but she had continued to feel mired in helplessness and hopelessness.
She then described how much it had meant to her that our group had not only stopped by to bring much needed food for her family, but that we had stayed and talked with her and her brothers and sisters for such a long time. She talked about how it touched her so much that we cared. She was convinced that God, in sending us to her, was demonstrating his great love for her and his assurance that, regardless of the circumstances, He was in control and would provide. It was an extremely moving and uplifting experience for this young lady and gave her the encouragement that she desperately needed to be renewed and strengthened in her faith.
When Sonya first told me this story, I just started thinking about all of the pieces that had fallen into place to make this happen. For instance, our church decided to take this trip to Belize, we changed our plans from working in Belize City to working through a church in the rural community of Pomona, the church decided to add an additional expense to our mission trip in order to fund a food distribution in the community, Sonya and I and the members of my group decided to go on this trip, our entire Belize team prayed constantly for the Spirit’s guidance and that we would be willing vessels, the local church selected the 20 most needy families to have food delivered to them, my group visited the young lady and simply talked with her and tried to just demonstrate the love of Jesus, Sonya stepped outside of her comfort zone to start a conversation with the young lady, etc. (and these are just the highlights).
Just imagine, God brought this woman back from the brink of making a horrible decision! He saved this young lady’s life because his people were willing to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit. It makes me wonder how many times this amazing scenario could be repeated if we submitted to God’s will more often and more completely in our lives. Think of all the people struggling out there and how we often just walk right past them, unaware of the hurt in their lives. If we could slow down a little and take the time to share the love of Jesus with more people, I am convinced that God would bring many more of these potentially tragic situations to a positive outcome as He uses us to help lost people find him.
Our own reward in this instance was that God allowed us to see, through the conversation that Sonya had with the young lady, just how He had used us and what He had accomplished through us. It felt like an affirmation straight from above! Now, we will not always see the outcome of submitting to God’s will, but we were certainly blessed to in this instance and it was such an encouragement to our entire Belize group. This story is a most compelling example of why it is so vitally important to prayerfully follow the guidance of the Spirit so that He may work through us to bring the love of God to a desperate and dying world.
Sonya shared this young lady’s story with the pastor’s wife at the church where we worked and where she attends. Please pray that God would continue to provide this lady with strength and encouragement through his Word and the love of his people as He uses the body of Christ to help her overcome difficulties that many of us could never imagine.
Thank you and God bless.