I sometimes think that we are supposed to know all the answers and comprehend the fullness of events as they happen, but it doesn't work that way for me. After several weeks with the help of some very timely bible passages and a word from God I am beginning to have some understanding of what being part of this team was all about for me.
Actually it wasn't about me at all and I'm not sure how much was about the team or about the work we did with the children in Arequipa, Peru. A reading in Hebrews (Chapter 10 & 11) really helped to provide some clarity. The 10th chapter speaks about sacrifice and Christ's perfect sacrifice in giving his life for us. The 11th chapter is Paul's discourse on faith. I never had seen any relationship between the two concepts of 'sacrifice' and 'faith' until this reading. Maybe the reason for that was I had never explored the idea of sacrificial acts in my life.
In connection with our trip to Peru, we did sacrifice some of our money and our time to make the trip. We definitely sacrificed a little of our creature comforts to the inconvenience of being taken completely out of our comfort zone. Finally, we sacrificed our physical well being as most of us experienced the discomfort of illness. Admittedly these sacrifices pale in comparison to what long-term missionaries experience on a routine basis and can not even compare to the suffering of Christ on the cross. What I did come to understand through this experience, however, was that anytime we make sacrifices of any kind for the sake of Christ, we are building our faith and the faith of those around us.
I know that my faith was increased through working with the team and the children in Arequipa. I was touched repeatedly by the simple acts of giving and receiving hugs, playing children's games, watching the way in which the children inter-related with each other and the adults in their lives, trying to communicate without a common language, sharing meals together, praying together, listening to the voices and sounds around me and experiencing the sights and sounds of the city and surrounding country side. The miracles were sometimes small but overall to have accomplished the work we had been given, as we overcame the daily challenges and obstacles, was a major miracle and faith builder.
Another aspect of our sacrifice is that we become one with Christians all over the world, both living and past who have sacrificed for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I realized this fact, my respect and appreciation for all who seek to follow Christ was increased enormously. Also a real exercise in humility.
Although we do not have to travel great distances or go to extremes to make sacrifices in our lives, for me this trip has highlighted the role that sacrifice for others has made in my own spiritual journey. I now know that when I sacrifice my agenda for that of Jesus Christ I am taken to higher ground in my faith.
1 Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe. Psalm 61:1-3