In 2013 I joined a team from Taylor University for a week long STM to El Salvador during Spring Break. It would be my last STM during my time at college. It was a fantastic experience, like all of my previous STMs. However this mission was a little different, especially at the end. On all of my previous STMs God had blessed me with an easy transition back to the US. Not this time. Many unknowns lay ahead of me after El Salvador. I would be graduating shortly after but what happens once I leave Taylor University? It was pretty hard to finish those last couple of weeks at Taylor. I felt lost, guilty, broken. Why? Mostly due to our last day of ministry.
The following is adapted from one of my final journal entries from El Salvador:
It was Easter Sunday and we revisited a very poor community. After a week of various VBS events this would be our last one. I stood off to the side of the crowd as our team went through the lesson and other activities. I saw a new face in the crowd, a little boy who wasn’t with our group for the first time we had visited this community. His shy, dirt covered face was very distracted and he had little interest in what was being taught by these foreigners. He sat off to the side of the rest of the group and it was there that we found each other. We began playing, him climbing over me like I was a tree, me picking him up and swinging him around. He was laughing the entire time, and even though people tried to shush us we kept on going. He had a habit of shouting excitedly very close to my ear as he crawled over me; it certainly woke me up!
He wanted to play relentlessly, but miraculously I was able to communicate with him when I needed a short break. It took a lot more energy for me to swing him around than for him to enjoy the ride. Luckily his kind heart would listen to my pleas, but he wouldn’t give up and was eager to play again.
During our short time together we bonded well. I never even got his name, but I certainly know his face. Our group then proceeded to pass out candy in little Easter eggs and that calmed him down a little. He was protective of his candy from the other kids, but he was willing to show me what he had hidden in his little egg. We sat down to take a break and this allowed us time for us to simply be together and just watch the world go by. The moment could have gone on forever but unfortunately I had to leave with the team. We hugged, said goodbye, and sadness was in his voice. This would be the first and last time I would see him. It is moments like these that I want the rest of my life to look like…
I want to continue to make an impact, to make a difference, to love the broken and forgotten. But I need to get away from here, I need to get out of Taylor University in order to do that. Few people know about the need out there, fewer people take action to meet that need. Everyone should be involved in missions, whether they are long term, short term, supporters, advocates, everyone NEEDS to be involved in missions. Only then will the 1.5 billion people who are unreached be able to call on the name of the Lord to be saved. Only then will the countless other people who refuse the Gospel finally be able to understand the truth and come into a relationship with their savior. “Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell.” (David Platt, Radical.)
I want to go, and do something. Do anything. My greatest joys come from serving others with Christ by my side. Even if it’s hard, tiring, and even if I get covered in dirt as kids crawl over me, whether in Paraguay or El Salvador. I want to love people, always and forever. I want to be that guiding light in this world of darkness. I desire to be like Christ and love every sinner shepherding them back to God. He is seeking them, desperately calling them back to Him, and He needs individuals to help guide them. He needs individuals to help reconcile people with God. I am one of those individuals. Here Am I, Send Me (Isaiah 6:8). That is my prayer.
I feel like I left those kids back in El Salvador, abandoned them. I can still hear his small shouting voice close to me ear. Incredibly loud shouting…. shouting.
With all of this in mind, that is the reason I had such a rough time transitioning back to the US. I felt anxious to go back out into the world, and I was literally haunted knowing that there were so many people with so many needs. But there I was, sitting in the comfort of my home at Taylor continuing my education.
Luckily I have some good news for you past Glenn, God has called you back to continue the work He has started in the world and in your life. This blog post, it’s being posted from Guadalajara, Mexico as I continue to be the light of the world.
I hope I never forget those little boys from that last day of VBS. Those same boys are in every city in every nation looking to be loved, looking to see God’s love. I want to show them that love, but not leave the next day. I want to return the again and again, building a relationship, raising them up, and mentoring them. Creating new, young disciples so they can do the same.