Do you have any faces that you will never forget? I was on a mission trip in Nicaragua with a group of teens and adults. We were working with Chosen Children Ministries. I remember the excitement and nerves I had as I thought about going to bring help to the people we would encounter. We would be working on peoples’ homes and offering a Vacation Bible School program and doing some other physical and spiritual work. We had prepared with a number of meetings to talk about the culture we would be encountering and the work we would be doing and at those meetings we had devotionals that had that What Would Jesus Do flavor to them. How could we be the hands and feet of Jesus or Jesus with skin on as we went on this mission trip? We talked at great length about how we could bring Jesus to the people we would meet.
We landed in Managua in a whirlwind of activity as one of the teens had fainted on the flight and was not feeling well so we were trying to determine if she needed medical attention, we were met by Guillermo our contact with CCM. His compassion and peace were storm calming as we managed our way through arrival, which could have set a poor beginning but instead caused a great realization. A couple days into our trip we traveled out of Managua to a barrio (small village or neighborhood) out in the middle of nowhere. Here is where we met people who lived in 12’X12’ homes with dirt floors and sheets hanging from ropes to form makeshift walls. As I was slapped across the face with the stark and meager nature of their lives, was stunned by their faces. Joy radiated from their eyes as they greeted us and welcomed us into their community. Alone later in my hotel room tears welled up in my eyes as I realized that God had just flipped on the lights and yelled, “Surprise!” I had thought I was bringing God to them and God was already here! God was already at work. God was already producing fruit in what I saw as a dry and barren land. Elizabeth you are pregnant!
So often we see the world as a place we are to bring God to and forget that this is God’s world that God loves, so God is already there, raised and reigning. No place is too dark. No place is beyond God. We need to lose our messiah-complex, which is liberating because we realize we just need to see the face of God present and active and then celebrate the fruit by living in it!