At this point, I've made many trips to El Salvador and the village of Abelines to help with a medical brigade. In working with Enlace, I've learned a few things over these years. My way of thinking has changed so much over this time and they are great reflections of the change you can experience when you become a part of what God is doing.
I used to think I was a better Christian than most people and that God loved me more because I went on short-term missions trips to help the ‘poor people’ of Abelines. It was almost as if I believed I could earn more ‘God points’ by doing missions. As I have watched and interacted with ENLACE staff, I am learning that it’s all about relationships. God loves me no matter what I do and I can never, ever make Him love me more. The result of that relationship is a profound desire to serve as an act of worship to the One who loves me so much.
I used to think the goal of short term missions was service to the needy. I judged the success of a trip by how many patients I saw, always being happiest if I saw more people than anyone else and if our team saw more than the prior teams. Dave McGee, on the first night on site, told us our goal was to encourage the Body of Christ in Abelines. I don’t have a yardstick to measure our success on that one but thankfully God doesn’t ask us to determine the success of our obedience. We obey and He takes care of the results.
I used to think I was sacrificing a lot to give up my free time to minister medical care in remote Abelines. Then I started noticing the health committee. They live in a world where not working may mean not eating yet they give of their time to meet and plan before we come and to help us while we are there. And that’s on top of all their other duties as part of the health committee and their daily struggles to survive in difficult conditions. Suddenly my service doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice.
I used to think ENLACE’s methodology was way too inefficient. I looked at all the time and resources being used on a few, very small churches and communities and thought it would take forever to have much of an impact with the way things were being done. All this ‘building relationship’ stuff was so slow! Now I know that not only is it the best way (Jesus spent most of His time building relationships and loving people) but it’s the only way that produces lasting results.
I used to think that even though God loves me He was too busy to get very involved in my life unless something really huge was happening. I’m not the kind of person that huge things happen to so I didn’t expect God to be speaking to me much (or ever!) I’ve learned that God cares about every detail of my life and when I spend time with Him and listen, He often has things to tell me.
I used to think missionaries were very holy people who never struggled with common problems like the rest of us ordinary people. Now I know a group of people in El Salvador who are good friends and just happen to be missionaries. They aren’t afraid to be vulnerable about their weaknesses and ‘growing edges’. They have taught me about God and faith, shared some pretty rough times in my life and have been a frequent source of encouragement. My life is changed because of their friendship.
So I don’t know as much as I thought I did, but of this I’m sure: God is using ENLACE to change El Salvador and to change me. And I’m very grateful to be able to have even a little part in what they are doing.
This blog post was written by Dr. Rhonda Griggs. Her many years of partnership with ENLACE has been a tremendous blessing to us and the people of Abelines. Many like her are discovering how mission trips are truly serving trips.To find out more about how your church can partner with ENLACE just visit us here. Take it step further and learn about how you can make a long-term impact with a short-term serving trip. Download our free guide today and get started on an amazing journey of discovery.