(An Article for the October 1998 Deep Cove Crier)
What If I Stumble?... Mexico 1998
For each of the past four summers St. Simonís Youth group has traveled to Mexico for a Missions trip. Each year some people return, and each year new persons make the trip. Each year we go down with the same intentions. For those people making their first trip, they believe they are going to help and reach out to the poor Mexican Indians, at least in some small way. Those who have made the trip before and know what to expect, are not so naive. They know that they receive more from the Mexican people than they could ever give. Each year though we all end up looking and feeling naive because God has a different plan for us than we could ever expect, and this year was no exception.
As in past years the format of the trip was the same. The organization we go to Mexico with is called Mexican Medical Ministries. They have about 12 medical clinic sites in Mexico where they provide for both the physical and spiritual needs of the poorest of Mexicoís poor, mostly the Mexican Indians. We visit Clinica La Esperanza in San Quintin, which is about 250 km south of San Diego. At the clinic we spend our mornings doing physical work, our afternoons doing Vacation Bible School for the children in one of the near by worker camps and our evenings doing film ministry in another one of the camps. The conditions of these camps are something right out of a World Vision video and are unbelievable, but this is not what our story is about.
Our story is about how God uses these opportunities to take our world apart and reveals Himself to us. In the Bible, James chapter 4 tells us "Come near to God and God will come near to you." In other words the closer we get to God the more He reveals Himself to us. This is exactly what happened to all 35 people on our trip. We were taken out of our comfort zone, removed from the distractions of work, TV, current events, all the business of our daily lives, and for one week we were able to get close to God without distraction.
Our theme verse for our team came from 1 Corinthians chapter 12, which talks about the body of Christ, that "we are one body made up of many parts and though its parts are many, they all form one body." We were all different, yet all vital to the team, and God had a different plan for each of us. What we came to realize was that all of us were feeling a separation from God and in some way, unworthy to approach Him. Some never really knew Christ to begin with, others thought they knew Christ but did not, at least not as well as they thought. Some had wandered along way from their relationship with Christ while others just had not gone anywhere with it, they had not grown.
There is a song by the group DC Talk called "What if I Stumble?", the chorus reads"What if I stumble, what if I fall?This is precisely what most of us were feeling.
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when the walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble and what if I fall?"
For one week though, we could all start over. The grace, forgiveness and love of God simply overwhelmed us. People who did not know why they had even come on the trip were weeping at the dirty concrete altar where thousands of people before them had wept. God revealed Himself to us in a real and tangible way. We could feel His presence. The grace that ex-slave trader John Newton talked about when he wrote the words "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me..." became real and for many people took their world apart. During one of our late night devotion times, we were given the task of rewording Psalm 143. One of the groups wrote down these words which seemed to sum up the whole trip for all of us:Bring it on God!These words reached down to the depths of our hearts. This is what we all wanted but we were either not sure how to ask for it or too afraid to ask for it. When we did ask and pray for this to happen, lives were changed. This is a prayer that I hope everyone has the courage to pray, because He will do it and it will be the greatest experience of your life.
Lay the smack down,
Test my faith,
Take my world apart!
Ken Bell, Youth Minister, with Rev Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simonís Anglican Church, North Vancouver
The Reverend Ed Hird, Rector, St. Simonís Anglican Church
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St. Simon's Anglican Church
North Vancouver, B.C.