Over then next few weeks, we will feature one of Amanda Pennel’s posts that she sent to supporters while she was on our 2015 mission trip to Ecuador. if you want more information about our November 4 – 11, 2016 or July 28 – August 4, 2017 trip.
Saturday: Day 1 in Ecuador
I’m trying to capture some time to reflect, to help piece through what God is telling me. You all are providing support for this trip in many ways, but especially through prayer. I consider you to be part of this mission trip as well and want you to know what God is saying and doing, at least from my perspective. Sorry if it’s a bit disorganized… There is a lot to process…
Encouragement. This word keeps popping up. I guess God must be saying something to me. Prior to coming to Ecuador, thoughts of the staff would fill my mind. I tried to imagine the work that they do, envision the difficulties they must experience. And I would wonder about their source of encouragement. Yes, of course, God should be our main source, but he’s the one telling us that we must encourage one another and that we must do it EVERYday. So, who’s encouraging them? Pause that thought for now.
Discouragement is, in my eyes, one of the biggest weapons the devil uses. If he’s able to weave discouragement into your heart, what more is left except a cascading effect of surrender and destruction? Discouragement asks as a cancer in my life. It slowly creeps in and destroys by altering my thoughts, shadowing my hope, and props the door open for my words and actions to reflect the ugliness it leaves. I hate it.
Yesterday, we learned more about Ecuador and what Compassion is doing here. We heard about the devastating conditions of poverty here. It is not the same as our country. Discouragement abounds in desperate situations where hope is shadowed and no light is offered to reveal it. Compassion is a light for this area- coming in to offer hope for children. Compassion establishes projects, in partnership with a local church, to provide basic needs like education, food, but most importantly, it provides a foundation for children to learn about Jesus. These children are taught about God and then become the ones who go and make disciples in their own homes. Children are offered hope in the realization that they are created by an awesome God who loves them, who has plans for them. My biggest take away yesterday? Encouragement. We all need encouragement and we are called to encourage each other. These children don’t need sponsorships because they only need your money. They need the refreshment and healing that comes from a relationship based on building and not destroying. That’s what sponsorship offers.
The best defense is an offense, right? (It may be the other way around, but work with me here). These children receive basic needs through sponsorship, yes, but the way they truly fight their way thru the discouragement and devastation in order to live out hope is by fueling up on encouragement and love! When they hear that someone from another country cares about them, loves them, and believes in them, it changes everything. When these children, some of whom have been abandoned by their own parents, or sold off to be used and abused by others, hear that they were knit together by an Almighty God and were created for more, things change.
I saw a stack of cards with profiles of children needing sponsors from EC-517. That’s the project we are here to serve. I can’t look at them because my heart will break knowing I can’t sponsor every single one of them. But, God calls us to make the most of every opportunity. God has given me an opportunity to bring Him glory in sharing His story. I can share of the experience I have with him. I can share how I see Him working. I can’t sponsor every child, but there are children who don’t have sponsors, that are just longing for encouragement. I can certainly afford time to write to one of these children regularly – share the love of Jesus in any way I am able.
Points to Ponder:
“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, MSG)
Having eternal perspective requires me to stop looking through a lens focused on this world and me.
What is your lens focused on? If you were to refocus it on eternity, what would God be saying to you?
How can you be an encouragement to those around you, everyday?