One of the best parts of going on short-term missions trips is meeting so many wonderful people and having some truly divine connections. I’d like to share just a few stories of some of the people who impacted me during our outreaches in Lima, Peru. In two of the cases, I didn’t even know the people’s names and I only spoke to them for a brief moment but those memories were some of the highlights for me on this trip.
The Guy in the Crowd
It was Day 2 of the trip and we were ministering at a marketplace. A crowd had gathered to see what all the commotion was about. My team was there dancing with folks from the crowd, performing skits and dramas, and preaching the Gospel. I noticed a young guy had cut into our team’s circle. He must have wanted to get closer to all the action, but he also looked like he might be drunk or might be a pickpocket. Whatever the case, he was too close for my comfort. I kept an eye on him from a short distance.
At the end of our presentation, the team split up into groups to pray for people. Immediately, the guy came up and asked me for money. We’re always instructed not to give out money, so I wasn’t sure what to say. But I was reminded of the story of when Peter and John were approached by the lame beggar on their way to the temple. Peter replied, “…Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6).
So I told this guy that I couldn’t give him money, but I could give him Jesus! So in my broken Spanish I started to talk to him about God’s love for him, but he soon got defensive. I don’t even remember why, but he blurted out that he was an orphan. So I shared that God wanted to be His Father. That God had not forgotten him. God was with him and He had a plan for him.
Before I knew it, tears started welling up in his eyes. I was surprised at first, but I knew it must be the Holy Spirit touching him. In that moment, I knew that he was one of the reasons why I had been sent to Lima, Peru. This lost sheep needed to hear about God’s love. I love being the bearer of this Good News! I was thrilled to be able to connect him with a member of our host church so they could follow up with him and get him the help he needed.
The Last-Minute Girl
That same day we went to visit two schools. At the second school, I was asked to hold one of the sides of the “Dream Wall,” which was a long sheet of paper where students could write their dreams with markers.
Honestly, when the team was out praying for the kids it was hard for me to just stand at my post holding the paper. I wanted to be out mingling with the kids and praying for them. ThankfulIy, I did get to chat with a girl. She said she was already a Christian, which was nice. She was extremely shy about writing her dream or even saying it out loud. She finally shared that she wanted to be a chemical engineer! I happily prayed for her and encouraged her.
I was content that I got to at least speak with and pray for one student. Soon it was time for us to go to our next site. As we were leaving the school, out of nowhere a girl came up to me and said she needed to share something with me that she couldn’t tell her friends. Huh? Now? Me? We had been at her school for a good 30 – 40 minutes. We were on a tight schedule so I asked her to keep walking and talking with me, but she couldn’t leave the area. Now what?
I asked her what she needed prayer for and she shared that she was battling feeling fat. This slim girl was having issues with her weight and food. Oh my! I quickly prayed that God would help her and show her how much He loves her. Really, it was a very simple prayer. But when I was done, the girl was beaming. You would have thought that I had prayed for her for hours. She helped to remind me that it really isn’t about the length of our prayers. Even a short prayer in questionable Spanish can make a difference!
I marvel that she had the courage to stop me right before I left and had the guts to share something so personal. Looking back, she kind of reminds me of the woman with the issue of blood who pressed past the crowd to reach Jesus and to get the help she needed. (Mark 5:24-32)
I’m touched that she chose me, out of all my teammates, to share her private struggle. I wonder if she knew that I was one of the few who spoke Spanish and wouldn’t have to waste precious time (that we didn’t have) trying to grab a translator to help out. I’m so glad that I had time to squeeze in a prayer for her. I’m so blessed that when I couldn’t go out into the crowd to find someone to pray for, the Lord sent someone to come find me!
Twice in One Day
The morning of the big crusade, all 136 of us went to Lima’s main plaza and did a combined presentation and invited folks to that afternoon’s event. During the prayer time, a guy, who I’ll call Bernardo, came up to us and started sharing in Spanish that he was a Christian. He had lived in the United States for some time, he was intrigued to hear our team speaking in English, and he was interested in coming to the crusade. He was so happy to meet our team that he gave a few of us stickers with Bible verses on them. So sweet. We prayed for him, encouraged him, and told him where the event was going to be held. Then we went on praying for other folks.
A few hours later, we were at the stadium. The worship teams were on stage warming up. The locals were entering the stadium and getting seated. Suddenly, a familiar face appeared. It was Bernardo, our friend from the plaza! He had to ask three people how to get to the stadium! He was determined to attend the crusade!
It was such a great feeling to know that at least one person that I helped to invite to the crusade actually came! And one of the main reasons why he was able to find me was because he spotted my teammate Aaron who is a whopping 6”8′ tall!
We again got to chat with Bernardo and he surprised us by breaking out in perfect English!
It was such a blessing to run into him again and to take a photo with him. It was so cool that out of some 50,000 people at the crusade that night I knew at least one of the guests by name!
As you can imagine, there are tons of stories from each site. Perhaps I’ll do a post just on the park that we went to on our last ministry day. That was a blessing in itself!
For now, I hope these stories have encouraged you to once again stop for that One! Yes, it’s great to want to touch the lives of many people all at once, but sometimes the best moments are when you get the chance to speak life into an individual. It can make all the difference to them. It can bless you in unexpected ways as well!
So, who is that One that God is placing in your path? I pray God will give you the courage to reach out to that One! And then another, and another, and another….
To read about some of my Foreign Friends in other countries, click here.
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