February 25, 2011
Stepping out into the light, gray mist of a somber afternoon in Guatemala, we were struck instantly by the distinct sights and smells of the city. Swept away in a current of fruits and colors, we coalesced with the crowd, weaving in and out of the locals like the intricate, handmade fabrics layered heavily across their backs. Dense for a non-market day, the city, too, was heavy, its people folded forward beneath the weight of the day-to-day and the lostness of a life barren of Truth. A team member and I fell in step and began prayer walking, quietly absorbing the unspoken burdens from the hollow eyes we encountered, imploring the presence of God to descend upon these people with the rain.
We were finally here, doing this that we had craved for so long: praying not just for but among those we were here to serve.
Lord, raise up this generation for you. Lift the oppression of the Mayan beliefs and fears that block your Truth here. Deliver these widows and children from the bondage of poverty. This man right now, make Yourself known to him in a mighty way; let him be an influence for your glory among other men in this community
It was then that I first noticed it: the ongoing chattering behind me. A local Guatemalan woman, who had noticed and continually sought out our team since day one, caught up to us in our journey and struck up a conversation in Spanish with another team member. Unabashed and unapologeticla-ti-da, as if the rest of us were simply taking a Sunday stroll. Looking back with shame, I admit it: I was annoyed. I focused harder on the passersby we slit between, like butter around a knife, struggling to make my prayers manifest authentically and resisting the temptation to walk on ahead, away from the group. She followed us all the way up to the hilltop at Monte Flor, into a small prayer chapel overlooking the ministrys sprawling campus and adjacent community nestled warmly between the mountains. I continued praying for impactwhen suddenly, I caught my breath. There between the muffled dialog, through words I could scarcely pick out, I recognized a prayer. This team member was praying with the woman, our visitor, in her native tongue. Impact
It was then I realized I had completely missed the forest for the trees. I was so caught up in my own spiritual agenda of seeking Gods influence among the people here, I missed the fact that I was His hands and feet right here where He had presented an actual opportunity. I let my own spirituality get in the way of responding to what was unfolding right in front of my eyes: a human being seeking connection. This woman could have been introduced to Christ right there in that chapel as I looked out into the distance asking Him to do something among His people
Back in America, I have to wonder how often I am not so far from that chapel, encountering dozens of opportunities to be a light for God right where I am. And yet, how does one go about arranging their life for response? Respond, my one word, falls heavy at times, like a cloak. Yet in the past month what I have heard over and over in my heart is simply this: Invest in the people around you. There doesnt have to be any grand cause or charge. As an introspective at-times introvert, my natural tendency is not always inclined toward community. But to arrange my life where I am positioned to respond means to seek relationships with those around me whom I have the opportunity to invest in every day. To realize that change requires response, and building relationships requires sacrifice. To recognize that God has already made some arrangements when He placed specific people in my life. And to know that He will equip me with all I needeven when it seems like my friend, that neighbor, my husband and I dont speak the same language