In China, we witnessed a sermon on the Great Commission. On the other end of the earth, hearing about making disciples of all nations. Oh, how I wish I could have understood it.
When we got to Guatemala and I realized the sermon I was hearing was about ending poverty, I sucked up my pride and popped in the earbuds connected to an mp3 player where some woman was remotely translating the simulcasted sermon. In the most poverty-stricken country in Central America, we attended a church that felt more like a concert and watched a telecast preacher talk about ending poverty.
The stats were horrifying.
He even went so far as to say that Guatemala does not belong in Latin America. Guatemala belongs in Africa. He called it the “Little Africa of Latin America.” He said the stats were comparable or worse than Kenya and Uganda.
I wish I could have read the reaction of the Guatemalan crowds hearing these harsh words.
But in our clump of Americans, I could only read ours. Namely, I could only know mine.
His words hurt.
It hurt to sit in a Guatemalan church watching a band that at first I couldn’t tell if they were live or holographs because of the flamboyant lighting. It hurt as they led us in Spanish Hillsong song after Spanish Hillsong song with words projected on the five screens. It hurt as those five screens projected a simulcasted preacher. It hurt as I used one of their many mp3 players to hear the translator.
In a country where 92 percent of children work before age 14, we were living lavishly.
America, what have we done? How have we influenced this culture?
Our team spent the afternoon prayer walking around Antigua. We were told to pair up and walk silently–not even speaking to each other–asking God to give us His eyes. Asking God to see what He sees. Asking God to show us these people the way He sees them–as His sons and daughters.
It was hard.
A juxtaposition to the church we’d experienced that morning; a juxtaposition to the touristy city most people see.
We saw poverty. Hopelessness. Despair.
We saw it in broken down buildings called “Home.”
We saw it in the six-year-old girl in too big high heels and gold earrings carrying bags of groceries to her younger siblings.
We saw it in the homeless man passed out on the street.
We saw it in the man with no legs sitting outside the world’s nicest McDonald’s.
We saw it in the shoeshiner boys trying to make some money for their family.
We saw it in the dogs so thin you could see their ribs.
We saw Jesus.
Going on missions trips, it’s easy to hold the mindset “We’re taking Jesus to Guatemala.”
He’s already there.
He’s already working in “Little Africa.”
Already speaking to His beloveds.
Already changing lives.
We just got to listen.
When have you gotten to silently witness the work God is already doing?
Note: To hear more stories from our trip, check out my teammate’s blogs. There’s a list of us here.
What are you looking for?