God opened a door for ministry in Guatemala for me and a team of eight others this November. For 10 days we traveled here and there in the mountains of this beautiful Central American country. God worked in our hearts as we met families who scratched out a meager living while living on the high, rugged slopes. The Lord met with us and taught us about His compassion as we put shoes on the muddy feet of children who looked at us with wondering eyes. Our hearts burned as we heard stories about the children singing during morning devotions as the schools established by the missionaries, causing the local witch doctors to complain that something was lessening their hold on the people. We shed tears as we heard about families who were coming to the Lord and trusting Christ as their Savior. And in the midst of it all, God opened a door for us to partner with Him in the powerful work He is doing in Guatemala. Whether we were spending treasured moments with the children at the orphanage or preaching and singing at local church services, we knew that God was at work in us and those around us. He is faithful to accomplish His work when we trust Him to bring about the results that most glorify Himself.
Oftentimes we limit our view of God by imagining that He only do what we can envision. But my narrow creativity doesn’t hinder the Creator of all things. I’m not used to walking between banana trees and coffee plants. And I have never taught anyone how to use a simple filter to make the water they dipped out of the stream clean of bacteria and parasites. But God’s plans are so much bigger than what we normally allow ourselves to think.
In the gospels, Jesus calls us to look out for the least of these. And I looked some of them in the eyes. I met a woman with seven children living in a mud hut on a mountainside; and I saw how she trusted Jesus to continue to provide for her and here shoeless family. Her faith is beautiful in God’s sight and it bolstered my faith as well.
Our church had not been able to participate in a mission trip like this for some time because of the pandemic. We have spent a lot of time and energy wondering about how far apart the chairs at church should be and whether the people watching from home will come back. Ministry is different than it was, but God has remained the same. He is the One who opens doors and encourages us to walk through them. And when we do, we find that He is still at work in surprising ways. I’m glad that He made it possible for us to travel to and from Guatemala this November. And I’m so thankful for the reminder that God hasn’t interrupted His plan to take the Gospel to every corner of the earth. His compassions are new every morning and He invites us to be His hands and feet. God stills calls to His people and blesses them when they drop whatever holds them back and when they choose to follow Him wherever He leads.
Nathan Richey (MDiv, Moody Bible Institute) is the Associate Pastor at Walnut Community Bible Church. He and his wife, Laura, and his two daughters, Natalie and Noelle, live in Walnut, Illinois.