This week, we were in our final (and my favorite) country: El Salvador. God has been so faithful to show me one overwhelming characteristic of Him in every country, and I am so thankful to know Him more. In El Salvador, I saw Him as a Cheerful Giver.
In the mornings this week, I was reading through 2 Corinthians for my quiet times. I also recently started a book called Praise Habit that one of my teammates brought (thanks Taylor!). David Crowder writes Praise Habit using a way to study Scripture where you read it, let it sink in, and create something from it. He goes through some Psalms and basically reads them, prays them through and writes them in His own words. They’re absolutely beautiful and moving. I loved this technique so much, that I decided to do it for myself. So, at the risk of being super vulnerable, here’s my writing of The Cheerful Giver passage in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.
“Pay attention – this is important.
Whoever gives little will get little.
Whoever gives without restraint, will gain abundantly.
Decide early in your heart of hearts to be the latter.
Don’t do it out of pressure or guilt, because then it’s all worthless.
God loves your happiness – He wants service out of joy, not force.
And God will help you – He so graciously gives you all you need, all the time,
So that your joy may be complete and good works will ceaselessly flow from your gratitude.”
Little did I know, this piece of Scripture and meditation would follow me throughout my entire week. But that’s how it always seems to work, isn’t it?
This week, we worked with an organization based in the capitol of El Salvador, called RED. El Salvador has recently come out with new legislation, shutting down orphanages in order to reestablish children with their families. As good as this may sound on the forefront, it is terribly mistaken. Children who were abandoned in sewers, sexually abused, verbally abused and neglected by their parents are now being given back to those same families. So RED exists to help families and children cope with their new lives. It is an amazing organization, built on the foundation of Christ, that serves families in a really holistic way – providing them with counseling, food, shelter and education. Check it out:
We went to visit a family who is sponsored by RED early this week. The father is currently in jail for sexually abusing his 12-year-old daughter, who now has a child. The mother also has three other children. So now, there are 5 children under the care of a single mother. Thankfully, they now have sponsors and are under RED’s program and help. When we went to visit them, we were meant to clean up their yard and plant a garden for them. This sounds so little and minuscule to us in America, but it felt so weighty to me. The entire family watched (and helped!) as we gave them a life-sustaining garden. They were all eager to learn how to take care of this new gift and allow it to work for a long time. Giving them such a gift, brought inexplicable joy and hope to my heart. I was reminded of the passage of the Cheerful Giver and thought of how cheerful I felt in those moments, can you imagine God? Can you imagine how much joy He has as He lavishes gifts upon gifts to His children? Just thinking of that makes me smile. He withholds no good thing.
As most of you know, I went on this trip because I wanted to define a call to long term missions – seeing where the Lord wants me. I don’t think I got this flashing lights kind of answer, but God is always faithful to reveal what He wants, when He wants. I have seriously loved every country we’ve gone to, every ministry we’ve worked with and all the people we’ve met. But something about El Salvador was different. I just feel more comfortable there. I enjoy the culture. I enjoy the food. I enjoy the language. I somewhat fit in. It truly is amazing – how God can fit your passions and personality into exactly where He wants you to work for the Kingdom. I prayed earnestly this entire trip and before, that He might reveal His plans for my life to me. Blatantly. He didn’t answer my prayer the way I wanted Him to. And I praise Him because He didn’t listen to my plans, He did something better. He showed me more of Himself than I ever could have hoped or imagined. He showed me His love and glory and work all over the world and I have been forever changed by it. And He’s shown me how I don’t have to have it all figured out just yet. So, here’s what I know: I have a passion for Latin America and would love to live there one day. But I also know that God has done a work and is doing work in every single country around the world, and I want to be a part of it. What that looks like, I don’t know. But I know that He will give me everything I need, when I need it, in order to show love and good works (see 2 Corinthians 9 yet again).
As I sit in air-conditioned, Chick-fil-a possessing, internet filled America, I cannot believe Global Journey is coming to a close. This experience has undoubtedly changed my view of God, my view of missions and my entire life. I’ve seen how God is constant, faithful, joyful, loving and persistent. He has so graciously given me glimpses of Himself and His character, I can only hope that just as Moses, I come away with my face aglow because of the glory and majesty of God.