What I Learned:
Sitting here in my Chilean bedroom one last morning, drinking the “wonderful” instant coffee of Chile (it really isn’t that bad after two months), I can’t help but reflect upon this summer with gratitude or agredecida in Spanish. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so I might as well begin being thankful right now.
Grace and gratitude are really going hand in hand as I am about to head home. Gratitude for the grace is my anthem as I speak about what God taught me this summer. If I could sum it up in six words it would be: i am nothing, CHRIST IS EVERYTHING. Growing up in church for such a long time, I forgot who the person of Jesus was, I forgot how magnificent His love was for me, and how vast His grace is compared to how little I deserve that grace. I was okay at giving others grace and loving others, but I had a hard time believing that Jesus loved me. I was living an older brother mentality (in reference to the Prodigal Son story). I thought I had earned my salvation and needed to continue to earn it; however, this is not the case it is freely given without any demands from Jesus in return. I read this quote this summer in one of our readings for discipleship. It reads,
“If like the elder brother, you believe that God ought to bless you and help you because you have worked so hard to obey Him and be a good person, then Jesus may be your helper, your example, even your inspiration, BUT he is not your Savior. You are serving as your own Savior.” – The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller
Talk about the Lord smacking you in the face, little did I know I was in such need of a savior before coming to Chile. I thought I was doing pretty good on the path towards being a righteous person in heaven. Was I ever so wrong. During my time here in Chile, the biggest thing God taught me was that I am in so much desperate need of Christ to be changing me, redeeming me from my sin, and forming me into the disciple He has called me to be. I wasn’t humble, not that I am now but…God took me this summer and said, “Hannah I’m going to show you just how much you are in need of Grace, how undeserving of it you are, but I love you so much more than you can imagine, and because I love you I choose to give you grace, give you the desires of your heart, and bless you with life and love.” And this my friends is why yo soy agredecida (I am thankful).
What I did:
People that have been keeping up with me on social media are probably wondering why I don’t have too many “ministry” pictures posted. I am really sorry that I don’t have a visual representation of what we did here in Chile, but my teammates and I were talking a couple days ago about our purposes being here and the ministry we did. It is a little different than I think all of us expected, but in retrospect we all did exactly what God called us to do this summer. Jesus told me to feed His sheep this summer, or in my case the Chilean folk. Now when Jesus revealed that to me, I wasn’t really sure exactly how that would play out. I thought that meant hang with some kids at the school, do some construction work, maybe pray for some people on the street. Those are what came to mind when he told me that. Yes we did do all of those things…but our ministry here goes much further than that.
The “music of the gospel” (as our team leader likes to say) or the story of grace, redemption, and love for all those who believe is quite new in Chile. Chile has been plagued by religiosity, people inside the church don’t know how to have community, people outside the church aren’t welcome inside the church unless you have your life together, and many other typical Pharisee characteristics. This is why my team leader and his wife are here, and as you can see there is a lot of work to be done. Their goal is to create a community of believers in the church who are going out and showing the compelling of Christ to Chile in order so they may make disciples. The people here in Chile don’t understand that Jesus loves them and accepts them exactly the way they are. They don’t see grace when they gaze upon the cross. In a Catholic nation, many see Jesus still upon that cross agonizing in pain. However, the truth is He is no longer on that cross, He is RISEN, we are REDEEMED, and there is FREEDOM from the sin that should have held us down. None can say it better than John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I used this verse too many times without understanding it’s true meaning, but Wow what love is this?
Saying all of that, my team and I tried to stomp religiosity out of our little towns as much as we could. We met with people encouraged them in their walk with Christ, shared our sin and struggles, and asked that they join us as we pray for the nation of Chile and it’s movement towards creating the beautiful song of the gospel here. There was one church that my team and I were very involved with here, and I remember sitting at our small little worship night in the Pastor’s house listening to our friend play his guitar as we all sang in unison to our Creator and King. I couldn’t help but think about the first missionaries in Acts. They were given an incredible task of preaching the gospel after Jesus had departed from earth. They shared in life with each other, prayed for each other, ate with each other etc. As I looked around that room I saw those Acts missionaries. The Chileans we were with were the ones that were going to be here after we left (not that we are Jesus or anything), but our friends were going to be making disciples here in Chile and to me that was so beautiful.
I know the music of the gospel is going to continue to play here in Chile, and I can’t wait to hear stories about what God is doing: how Jesus is transforming people’s lives, humbling them like He did me, and telling them “I love you, you are in need of me, come to my well and drink.” Although I don’t have much proof to show exactly what I did here, I know in my heart I accomplished the goal the Lord set before me. He asked me to feed his sheep, and that is what I did. None say it better than Paul, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”-1 Corinthians 3:6. I prayed a lot for this country as well and asked the Lord to just come and infiltrate this place. I ask you do the same. Seeds were planted here, the oppression of darkness was stomped on, and my life was changed as I realized how much I am in need of Christ and how thankful I am for His GRACE and LOVE. Truthfully, it is all loss to compared to knowing Christ. What a wonderful God we serve. Ciao Chile, thanks for making me hungry for more.
Love and Prayers,