Last year before I came to El Salvador on the first 5IVE.14 mission trip, I knew God had called me into missions. I knew it would be continued work I would do with Him. I tried to envision what that might look like imagined hopping around from place to place. I had no idea of the relationships that would be built and the connection that would be developed at Love and Hope. I didn’t know that His plans were different than my visions. After I left Love and Hope last year, God had encouraged me to continue to invest in them throughout the year and He had placed it on my heart to go back to serve there again.
Love and Hope has become like family to me. I was having a talk with one of the teens there, and she expressed how happy she and the kids were when they heard that some of us were coming back. She said, “It is better when people come back because you get to know them. You guys play with the kids and make them laugh, and that is what’s important...that the kids are happy.” That was confirmation for me on why God has me continuing to invest in Love and Hope. It isn’t about me, it’s about Him and His plan, it is up to me to be faithful to where He leads me.
Today the team had a full day at the beach to decompress. The fruit of the spirit that we focused on today was faithfulness. I couldn’t help but reflect on how faithful our Father is and how He has shown His faithfulness in so many ways on this trip. The way He orchestrates is so beautiful. It is written in Phil. 1:6 “He who begins a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day Christ Jesus returns.” That is the verse that comes to me when I think about Rina’s story. Rachel met Rina about 10 years ago, and God had placed it on her heart to invest in her, and she has been faithful to Him by continually checking in on her and providing for her in any way she can for all these years. Rachel connected Bobby and Brittany Hibbs to Rina and they also showed their faithfulness by investing in Rina, and helping to care for her. We don’t know why God chose this time to give Rina a new home with a family that will give her the love and care that she needs, but the Medina family did not even question taking her in. A family that has so little in terms of worldly possessions is still able to provide so much for Rina, so much love and care.
I can’t help but be humbled as I see how rich in spirit is Love and Hope including all of those who are connected to Love & Hope as well. It is clear that Jesus dwells within them. It is beautiful to really see that material richness is not important, nor does it define success. Rachel strives to not only raise the children of Love and Hope up in a Jesus centered home, but to extend Jesus’s love out in the community by allowing God to lead her to people who need prayer, love, food, etc. Whatever the need is - Rachel and those connected to Love and Hope allow God to use them to fill that need.
Bobby and Brittany also gave up their lives in American and planted themselves in Nejapa, a city with extreme poverty and where gang violence is right outside their door. They created a ministry that is currently held in their home that addresses gang violence at the root, by discipling the youth in the community to help them to know the love of Jesus, which is life changing. They also provide a home for the homeless youth in the community. We painted a room in their home while we were here for any future youth that may need a place to stay. The Hibbs' door is always open for youth in the community, and they have made it clear that they will make room for as many children as God calls them to provide shelter and love. Their home is a safe place where these youth can blossom in their walk with Jesus. We saw the fruit of their ministry through Jonathan Nelson, an amazing young man who is now walking with the Lord, and leading other people in the community to Jesus. His trust in Jesus and joyful heart is inspiring, especially considering his circumstances, considering both his father and brother have been murdered because of involvement in gangs.
I am blown away by the faithfulness that is shown in all of this. God hand-picked each of us for the team, as well as those who have sown into this trip through prayer or financial support. Planning for a mission trip is not easy; raising the money, leaving your job and responsibilities at home during a time that might not be convenient. The enemy will be trying to pull you away from going, but we all stand firm knowing that the Lord will provide as he always does when he calls us to something. The best part about God is that even when we are faithless he is still faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).
I can write for hours on how God has worked through and in all of us on this trip. This has been the most fruitful trip I have ever experienced, and I say that from the bottom of my heart. It was no coincidence that God led us to “The Fruits of the Spirit” for our devotional for this trip. I am looking forward to continuing this journey with Jesus in El Salvador.
El Salvador - Nov 2016