Phillip Sabbato

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.

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Andy Reed

Andy Reed

The next thing I said was, “What do you want from me, Lord?” And he said, “I need you to straighten out this mess with your sisters.” When my father was sick with Alzheimer’s it tore our whole family apart. I wasn’t speaking to any of my sisters. I didn’t care if I ever saw them again.

Carla Cebula

Carla Cebula

When my older son was in his late teens, he began to drink alcohol and it soon turned our world upside down. It was a long, harrowing ten years of severe alcohol abuse, car accidents, constant worry and sleepless nights. He nearly died twice.