Most all of us at one time or another have been in a position to have influence over a child whether in a positive way or a negative way. That’s a precious gift God gives us – to affect a child’s life. Recently, I had the extreme pleasure to share a week in El Riito, Honduras with a group of exceptionally special people. The group consisted of members from Sebring Baptist Church in Sebring, Florida; Central Baptist in North Little Rock, Arkansas; and Alice Drive Baptist in Sumter, SC. We were 34 people strong with plans to meet up with some others upon arrival to Honduras for the purpose of a medical mission trip.
If you have ever been blessed enough to have experienced an international mission trip you know the group may have prepared and planned for months, if not years, but only our Heavenly Father holds the reins. “Subject to change” is always the theme for the week and this week was no exception.
Our dentist, Dr. Gee Rabon, had made huge sacrifices over the last couple of years to serve the people of Honduras. One of the sacrifices was the purchase of a compact piece of equipment to do fillings with while there. The whole team was so excited about this technology that the people of El Riito would benefit from. Never before had they had the opportunity to have teeth filled, their only option - to be pulled if they were decayed. How great it was going to be not to have that as the only option. It turns out that the equipment was spotted by a group of locals at the airport who were not interested in our mission of helping the Honduran people. They decided the equipment was to be used in a different way. So the suitcase with Dr. Rabon’s equipment and his wife’s bag were both cut off the back of a truck while stopped at a traffic light. Did Satan get a foothold? No chance! Yes, Gee and Lori’s week had not started off as they or the team would’ve liked but it did not put a roadblock up just a brief detour.
As we continued on the four hours of a difficult and dusty ride (and I’m not talking a little South Carolina pollen, I’m talking the kind of dust where you put your hand on the back of the seat for 10 seconds and when you lift it off you can see the entire outline of your hand in dust) Satan began trying even harder to turn us around. Picture this … a one lane dirt road hugging the side of a mountain, no thought of guardrails, a dry riverbed with enough water running across it to carve out a small dip in the road, two school sized buses loaded with God’s people and one big scraping sound underneath as we headed across the riverbed. Yep, we bottomed out. But you know what, I didn’t see anyone who looked doubtful that we would get out. The men gathered large stones from the riverbed and positioned them in such a way that within a half hour we were on our way. Coincidence the large, flat stones were there? Coincidence we had a few men who worked on a ranch and knew how to use stones to get us unstuck? Not a chance. God was walking with us for sure.
Back on the road we continued to feel a force trying to hinder our progress. As we slowly crept over a small bridge, the lip of the bridge caught our brake line and put a hole in it. The men tried for a long time to plug it but the pressure was too great to stop the leak. What’s left to do … pray, of course. After making a circle and lifting our concerns, our leaders decided to put everyone on the remaining bus and continue the journey. Another coincidence that we had two buses? What’s your conclusion?
With all of this, we still knew God had this effort in his control. It was about adults who hadn’t had medical, dental, or optical care in many years, if ever. It was about scared, school-age children who weren’t born the last time “light skinned North Americans” came to their village. It was about God being at work at this time and in this remote corner of the world for a reason. It was about a corner where occasional electricity only came through a single light bulb wired to a generator, where toilets (and I use that term loosely) didn’t flush but just ran downhill with gravity, and where for three to four months out of the year during the rainy season the village was unreachable. With all this being said, we knew God loved these people just as much as he did the ones of us he had sent there. We were all his children for whom he sent his son to die on the cross. All we needed to do was to be flexible and be the door that Jason Gray talks about in his song With Every Act of Love. It says, “We are the doors for God’s love to walk through”. I believe that! God’s love is everywhere, in every village, but he is asking us to be obedient in letting his love enter through us.
There were many seeds planted in El Riito the first week of April, 2014. There were many hugs and smiles given as well as rice, beans, eyeglasses, clothes, medicines, and even salvation bracelets. Were the seeds planted on fertile ground? I and many hundreds of people who were part of this effort on both sides of the gulf are praying they were but the big picture and what happens after we left is God’s job and he has it under his big plan. We aren’t to try and take over his plan we are just to be obedient in the part he has called us to do … to be the door he walks through. He has others in place there to disciple and shepherd the 80+ new believers … the ones courageous enough to admit their shortcomings and to step out in faith to commit to putting our Father first in their lives. None of us know what God will use these adults or children for one day. Maybe the girl with the big hugs will find a way to become a big-hearted physician like Dr. Phil Brandt. Maybe the shy young teenage boy with the beautiful green eyes will one day bring his modern equipment to another remote village to fill teeth for those who had never had dental care. Maybe the son of the elderly lady we met by the side of the road when our bus was stuck will become an English translator for other mission groups who want to tell Spanish-speaking villagers about Jesus. Or maybe, just maybe the precious sisters dressed in the one dress they own will be “the door” by making salvation bracelets with other children who have never before heard of the hope Jesus gave them by dying on the cross.
Can I honestly say this foreign mission trip changed us? I think I can safely speak for the others on the BMDMI team by saying, YOU BET! Will we hesitate if God calls us back? I hope not. We all want to continue to be the door for God’s love to walk through.
God, please continue to use us. Amen
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