My trip to one of the most impoverished countries in the western hemisphere solidified my belief in the power of faith. In 2007 I had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua with a church missions group. As I am fluent in Spanish, I knew that I would be called on to be an unofficial interpreter in many situations, but I did not expect that being able to understand the dozens of Nicaraguans that I met and hearing their stories would become one of the most enriching experiences of my life.
I saw that many wore the same clothes every day, and a few even appeared malnourished. Every single individual, however, regardless of the age, was happy.
About 20 of us from the church spent two weeks at a Young Life camp near Matagalpa, Nicaragua. There, every day, many locals, and especially children and young adults, would come to the camp for prayer, fellowship, a good meal, and activities. I saw that many wore the same clothes every day, and a few even appeared malnourished. Every single individual, however, regardless of the age, was happy. After hearing their stories and backgrounds during the church services which I had to interpret, it became apparent that the root of their daily joy, despite a lack of goods that we sometimes take for granted, was their faith in and love for Jesus Christ.
Day after day, I heard numerous horrific stories of the very tough roads that were traveled by dozens of Nicaraguans of all ages.
One woman’s story in particular, whose testament I had to interpret during one service, was typically moving. She told us that as a teenager she was raped by her own father, and afterwards decided to leave home at age 16. During her months of homelessness, she met the founders of the Young Life camp where we were staying. They took her in and instilled in her a love for God and an appreciation of all things that He has created. From then on, she has awakened to a new day with a smile, a love for Jesus, and an unwavering faith that living to honor Him is a forever enriching experience.
Her experience was not atypical. Day after day, I heard numerous horrific stories of the very tough roads that were traveled by dozens of Nicaraguans of all ages. All of them, bar none, were joyful to be alive and to have the love of Christ that they had in their hearts.
This trip proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can persevere through the most difficult of times if we have our faith.
More Faith Stories
I remember being in church and going up to the altar and crying. I was so tired of the life I was living. I needed help. I felt a sense of peace at that time and knew that if this Jesus thing can work for some of these other guys, then it can definitely work for me.
I said to myself, “Why should anyone envy me and want to be in my shoes?”
God has led me to amazing places in my life, so let me explain how God led me from South Carolina to Kenya.
We built the first church with great difficulty. We went back to the States and the board asked us to become mission staff with the Outreach Foundation. That was 25 years ago, just about, and we’ve gotten more involved with Kenya as days and years went on.
I am a chef by profession. I’m happy because I do what I love. Now I work at Villadise Tours and Safaris, where I meet so many different people coming from far. Being helpful is just a blessing to other people.
Then God started tugging on my heart. There was a church sermon series that was about taking your God-given dream off the shelf. I was like, “I don’t know what my dream is. God, if you have a dream for me you’re going to have to tell me what it is.”