I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
This past weekend Dylan and I had the wonderful blessing of serving as leaders at a camp that our church in Guatemala, Iglesia Ciudad de Refugio (City of Refuge Church), put together for 48 at risk children from 3 different communities. Let me first say that when Pastor Jorge asked if we could HELP with the camp neither of us thought we were going to be leaders. We thought we would just be in the background serving in whatever way we could to help the leaders. That was until we got the e-mail before leaving Friday morning telling us the names of the children in our groups. We were both a little nervous about this. I kept thinking “oh Lord, I barely know any of these kids and while I get by with my Spanish will it be enough to be an effective bible camp leader?” I was already preoccupied with the lesson Pastor Jorge had asked me to prepare for the girls because it would be my first time giving a lesson in Spanish and now I was to be a group leader too??!!! Thankfully, there was a good hour drive to the camp in which Dylan and I had time to pray together and individually. By the time we got to the camp we realized that if this is what God was wanting us to do then He obviously was going to make it happen so we were ready! My prayer was that God would use me to help these children see Jesus this weekend despite my inadequacies.
When we broke up into our groups Dylan and I both were both happy to each have at least one child from City of Refuge Church in our group so that it would be a familiar face and someone to help us. I was very happy that in my group there was a girl, Lily, from our church for whom God has created a special place in my heart over the last few years. I first heard about Lily in September 2011 when we made our second trip to Guatemala to see if this was really what God was calling us to do. During that trip Pastor Jorge shared some of Lily’s story with us and my heart was totally broken for her. I continued to pray for her and her son (she’s 19 and has a 4 year old) and finally in March of this year I got to meet Lily for the first time and we have continued to grow a relationship from there. Lily was such a great help to me with getting the other girls involved because they were very shy and even more so with me.
We had a wonderful weekend of bonding with these children and I was reminded again of how easily God can get rid of language and cultural barriers when we remember to rely on Him. It took the girls awhile but eventually they started opening up to me and our devotional and group times were great. I also had the privilege of spending some quality time with Lily this weekend as she would come sit on my bed at night and we would talk and talk. She shared with me about the some of the struggles she’s gone through in her young life and I shared with her some of the struggles I’ve gone through and how Jesus has healed the pain in me and changed my life. Although some of the other girls didn’t join in they were there and would listen to what we were saying so it was a cool opportunity to share what Jesus has done in my life not only with Lily but with my whole group!
One of the coolest things God did this weekend was give me an opportunity to help hide His Word in Lily’s heart. Pastor Jorge posed a challenge to the kids to memorize 5 bible verses by the end of the weekend and if they did they would win a soccer ball. Later that day, during some quiet time, I heard Lily groan in frustration. She told me she had 3 bible verses remembered but was struggling with the last 2 and she really wanted to do this because she wanted to win the soccer ball for her brother. Because of some things that happened Lily lives with Pastor Jorge’s family now instead of her family but she still has a great love for her siblings. We sat together for quite awhile and practiced the verses. Even as the other girls went off to play and get in the pool we stuck with it. I realized Lily is a visual learner (as am I) so I was able to give her some tips on how to better remember things. Later that night as I was coming back in from praying with Dylan before bed Lily was waiting for me because she was going to recite the verses and wanted me there with her. She did a great job and it filled my heart that I was not only able to help her win the soccer ball for her brother but also help her hide God’s Word in her heart. I reminded her that it’s important that she continue to practice these verses and others with the tips that I gave her so that she can always have the truth of God’s Word with her in her heart. As Pastor Dennis, from our home church in the U.S. York Christian Church, says: “When the lies come if they hit truth they can’t enter the heart.”
Lily was the first one to memorize all the verses last weekend and to win a soccer ball. They presented her with it in front of all the kids so hopefully it then motivated them to practice and learn those verses as well. I know one thing it sure motivated me to practice and learn them. These are verses I had not yet memorized and now I’m working on memorizing them not only in English but in Spanish as well so that I can have more of God’s truth in MY heart and so I can continue to help the girls in my group practice when I see them. Please pray for me as memorizing bible verses in another language is proving to be quite the challenge 🙂
“There is no greater blessing for a human being than to know God’s word.” Pastor Dennis Ray, Sermon: Countdown Part 1, September 15, 2013