This is a phrase that I became all too familiar with during my time in El Salvador. After all, this phrase is, more or less, the anthem of the Hope 4 El Salvador ministry. The entire point of putting on the block parties, blowing up the jumpies, painting nails and faces, making balloon animals, giving out cotton candy, etc., is to open up an avenue in which the Good News of Jesus Christ can be shared. Without sharing the Gospel, all the work I would have done with this ministry while I was in El Salvador, while good work, would have been merely humanitarian work. The Gospel, the Good News is what sets Hope 4 El Salvador apart from any other non-profit on the street.
Shortly after writing my last blog about painting nails, I fell into somewhat of a slump. I would pray each morning that the Lord would use me to reach his children in El Salvador, yet when the afternoon rolled around and it was time for another block party I would do the same thing every time: help set up the tables, make sure the right supplies got to each table they needed to be at, and then retreat to the nail painting table where I would paint nails and pray for kids. That was not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. The Lord had appointed me to be there to intercede for those children, and I knew that—for goodness sake, the Lord told me that Himself! …but I had become content in doing only that. I thought if I stayed right there, painting nails and silently praying for the little hands in front of me, then I was exactly where God wanted me to be. Did He want me to be there, painting nails and praying for kids? Absolutely. Was I outside of my comfort zone? Hmm, not really. Was He calling me to more? Yes.
About three weeks into the trip, I was at a block party in Alta Vista, El Salvador (a small town plagued with much gang violence). We had been out on the street for a couple of hours and we were packing up to leave. I had already packed up the nail painting table and was walking towards the other tables to help take them down when two young boys approached me, one was 12 and the other was 14. (A little back story: a team from Broadmoor Baptist was in doing ministry with us that week and they brought 1000 multi-colored evangelistic bracelets to use that could help when sharing the gospel. These bracelets were very popular when it came to the kids. There were way more kids who wanted the bracelets than there were bracelets available.) When the boys walked up, they pointed to my bracelet and told me (in Spanish… yes, I understood! Woohoo!) that they wanted it. Honestly, the easiest for me to have done at that point was just say “sure,” give them the bracelet, and walk away. It was hot outside, I had been out there for hours, we were about to leave, and the list of excuses goes on and on. At the same time though, I knew the prayer I had prayed that morning. I remembered having asked the Lord to use me to reach His children, and here I was, with His children right in front of me! Not only were they right in front of me, but they were asking for the very tool that I could use to share the Good News with them!! I knew what the Lord had called to and I knew the only thing standing between those boys and Jesus was my obedience.
I called one of our translators over (her name is Jessy and she is a truly amazing woman of the Lord) and told the boys that I would give them the bracelet on one condition: I would first tell them a story about what each of the colors on the bracelet represented, and if at the end of the story they could repeat each color and its significance back to me then the bracelet was theirs. In the midst of explaining this, a third boy walked over and joined the first two. By the end of the story, the three boys were hanging on every word I (and Jessy) said. They quickly and easily repeated the colors back to me and their significance, and by the end, all three of these guys wanted to accept Jesus into their hearts. After praying with them we were able point them towards the church we teamed up with that day in Alta Vista (that is where they would receive discipleship and accountability—we were there to evangelize, but evangelism and discipleship go hand in hand).
We loaded up to head to San Salvador just minutes after that and the Lord started speaking, “You see? My plans and purposes for you are bigger than you know. Do not become content or complacent in only one of my plans for you—you see a smaller picture, but I see things so much differently. I have given you a voice and I am giving you opportunities to use it as I am also entrusting you with some of my children. Step out and be willing to let me use you in whatever ways I have planned for you.”
Here is the thing: so many people will tell you that if you do not share with who the Lord tells you to, or if you do not fulfill a task that the Lord gives you, then He will raise someone else to reach those people or walk willingly into that promise, but I believe that is false. I believe that the Lord has specific plans for each of us and that, as believers, if we are not obedient, than that will prevent others from entering into or furthering their relationship with Jesus. In the Bible, when Moses refused to walk in what the Lord had promised him and not enter the promised land out of fear of the unknown, God let an entire generation of people die before He raised up another person to walk the Israelites into the will of God. I believe that if I had not been obedient that day to share with those boys, then too much time would have passed before another person would have had the opportunity to speak into those boys’ lives, and by then they could have pulled into the gangs or worse. After all, we were almost all loaded up and about to board the bus when this conversation went down. Who else would have shared with them?
I have been back in the States now for a little over a week and a half, but this is still one of the things from my trip that I think about each day. Intentional evangelism. That block party opened up an avenue by which I could share Jesus with them. The thing about intentional evangelism, though, is that it is no different in El Salvador than it is in the States. ANY TIME a believer is in the same place as an unbeliever that is intentional by God. The Lord desires to draw all people unto Himself. As believers, we are mandated to share the Good News. This is not a suggestion, this is a command. One of the things I learned over the course of this trip was that I was not there to learn just about being on mission in another country, I was there to learn about being on mission everywhere I go. To be willing to step out and tell people about Jesus anytime and every time the Lord asks me to. Is that easy? Heck no! At the end of my life, am I going to regret sharing the Good News with those boys on the streets of El Salvador or the random woman at Walmart in the United States? Absolutely not.
Coming home after this trip has been quite an adjustment. Being at home doing ministry presents extremely hard, and equally as difficult, challenges as doing ministry in another country. One thing I am sure of more than ever before though, is how thankful I am for the life God has called me live. It may be a life of various sacrifice, but it is a life full of Him.
(Pictured above is me with Jessy and the three boys who came to know the Lord from that conversation-- they were so proud of their bracelets!)
30 Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”