It is also the 3 year anniversary since the Daily Dependence blog was born! And the first post that will also include an audio recording if you prefer to listen instead of reading, just click here to listen.
Today I want to ask you this question…
We all have one. It could be that you were adopted, or grew up in a single parent home, or maybe you had both parents under one roof. Perhaps your family was rich or poor or somewhere in the middle. You may have grown up believing in God, or never have darkened a church door in your life, or you could have come to faith later in life. Whatever your family of origin, socioeconomic circumstances and religious background may be, we all have a story which has helped shape and define the way we behave and interact with others.
For me, I grew up in a one stoplight town in Pennsylvania with my mom, brother and sister. As a divorced woman with 3 kids to support, my mom worked herself to the bone as a maid in a local resort destination but unfortunately God really did not have any real part in our lives. I have been thinking a lot about my story lately since my oldest daughter and I got back from a trip to Zaragoza, Mexico. If you are thinking “I have never heard of a vacation destination with that name,” well that’s because no one would ever pick there to spend a week unless they had family there or as a result of their car breaking down while driving through to somewhere else. Zaragoza is a dirt poor town near the Mexico–US border with Texas, 1 hour southwest of the Del Rio border crossing. With a population of approximately 12,000, Zaragoza is far from any resort area; in fact, it is 1,000 miles to the north of Acapulco, Mexico.
The reason we were there was to share the love of Jesus through acts of service…from passing out food in the neighboring homes, to putting on Vacation Bible School for the children, to facilitating men’s and women’s bible studies. The video below was produced by a friend of mine on the trip that captures the incredible week of ministry that our church experienced as we partnered with the local church called “Rancho Dos Countries” (www.ranchodoscountries.com) in Zaragoza, Mexico.
It was my first mission trip and was absolutely amazing! I shared the video with a buddy of mine and he had this to say…
“Looks like you helped bring a bunch of joy to some folks man!”
My response to him and what I want to share with you today is that it was just the opposite! I have spent over a year going out of my mind as a result of a project I am on and all the stress it has caused, but one week in Mexico has change my attitude and outlook on life! While he was correct that I did help some people, they helped me far more! I learned three major things while in Mexico:
I’ve always been a person who would pitch-in with whatever is needed. On the missions trip I learned very quickly that you will do a variety of jobs and there is absolutely no room for ego. From the Team Leaders to the Pastor to the youngest child on the trip, everybody was expected to shoulder their fair share and do whatever was asked of them without complaint and with joy. And that is exactly what happened! It was truly incredible to see Psalm 133:1 (NIV) in action!!
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
We left from Mansfield, Texas as acquaintances but have come back as a family!
The second thing I learned was:
Many times I have acknowledged that God has blessed me with a beautiful family, a wonderful house, and a great job but until this trip I never truly understood how much I really am! The abject poverty that I saw on this trip was heart wrenching and quite honestly difficult for me to believe that in the 21st-century there still exists!
The people of Zaragoza have so little and yet when you talk with them, there is a deep joy and appreciation of what God has done in their lives. It was inspiring and convicting at the same time.
The final lesson I learned was:
I realized that the things that I worry about are so meaningless. Yes I may have a bad day at work or having issues on a tough project, but there are people not only in Mexico but all over the world who spend their days just fighting to survive. While there to encourage the people, I found myself being far more encouraged by them. I met a man there named Francisco. I first saw him riding up a hill towards me on the makeshift bicycle you see on bottom right of the photo. When he reached me and of the other guys from our team, we were greeted with the biggest smile. You may not have noticed it at first but there is a crank shaft that goes from the handle bars to the front wheels and that is because Francisco has no legs. He is known all around the town I would suspect because of the bicycle and his physical limitations but after talking with him for a half hour or so through a translator I believe it’s because of his joyful attitude and fun loving spirit. He also does an incredible job of shining shoes which is how he supports his wife and two daughters. We were blessed to hear his testimony of how 20 years ago he tried to jump on a moving train and lost his grip resulting in the dual amputation. If that were not traumatic enough, Francisco was also dragged by the train for a while before he got free. When he was found, Francisco was assumed dead and sent to the morgue. For 12 hours he laid there until the medical examiner discovered he was alive!! As I listened to this miraculous story, it is undeniable that the hand of God was on him that night and has been for the past 2 decades because there has never been a day in my life that I have ever gone to work with an ounce of his joy!! He truly embodies what the Apostle Paul commanded in Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV):
I have quoted this scripture many times believing in my heart that I was fulfilling the charge, only to see from the life of a humble shoeshine man that I have far to go. Because of Francisco my perspective has been forever changed. Boy I tell you nothing helps you more to forget about your problems like going on a mission trip to serve and help others because you never know how God will not work through you BUT to you!!
In the post ★ Thought for the Day – Back Into the Fire ★ I shared this verse from 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ESV)…
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
God comforts us so that we will turn around and comfort those in need. That is why Missions Trips are so wonderful, because you get to partner with God, to be His hands and feet in the fulfillment of the Great Commission that Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV):
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'”
Everyone has a story. Everyone has gone through hardships and adversity, some much more than others. The key though is what to you do with it?? My wife put it perfectly when we were talking about this Thought,
I love that! We all have story. How can you use your story to glorify God? Like Francisco, as we share our story of what God has carried us through, we can encourage and inspire others in His masterplan! I leave you with the same command to Go Make Disciples of all Nations, not just in another country but in your neighborhood, school or workplace! There are needs everywhere and I pray that you will move you into action!
If you would like to read Part 2, click here.