Abre mis ojos oh Cristo
Abre mis ojos te pido
Yo quiero verte
Yo quiero verte
Those are the Spanish words to the song Open the Eyes of my Heart, and the song our team has chosen and prepared to share with churches and ministries in Nicaragua
Our team, comprised of 8 young people and 3 leaders from Madison Square Church and Madison at the Ford (as well as my husband and I) are embarking on a Listen and Learn Cross Cultural Engagement Trip to Nicaragua this Friday.
During a congregational meeting, the youth gave a presentation to the congregation:
“During this experience we are going to visit:
- missionaries and pastors who are engaged in God’s work,
- business people who are representing Christ in the marketplace,
- Christian schools that are caring for special needs students,
- ministries that are reaching out to prevent human trafficking and heal those who have been impacted,
- and a Young Life Camp where volunteers grow and sell coffee around the globe in order to send kids to camp and hear the Gospel, many for the first time.
Our goal is to listen for how God may use us as leaders in our churches, communities, and callings.”
Through a series of events that I think could only have been orchestrated by God, my husband and I have the amazing opportunity to lead this group to Nicaragua. Although I am originally from Costa Rica, I grew up in Nicaragua as a missionary kid from the age of nine until graduating from high school. Therefore, I know many of the ministries, pastors, and missionaries that we will hear from in Nicaragua.
Growing up as a missionary kid, I observed and helped to host many short-term mission teams. Some of the teams that came were well prepared and able to make the most of the experience, while others came with an attitude that was not conducive to experiencing and joining in the work that God was already doing in Nicaragua.
A team’s mindset and preparation are crucial to their time in a different country or community. This preparation and mindset is also important to what happens after the trip, both in the team members and in the host country or community.
“To prepare for this journey, we have been attending weekly classes:
- to learn about the beautiful country of Nicaragua,
- to explore God’s call for Biblical Justice,
- to understand the critical role that Christians play around the world in both the church and the marketplace,
- and to examine ourselves spiritually as we prepare to share our testimonies in Nicaragua and as we ask God to open our eyes and ears to see how He is at work around the globe.”
We have also been using a new and recently launched resource from the CRC and RCA called Changed for Life that equips short-term mission teams, the hosts who receive them, and the congregations who send them, to craft a well-organized mission experience with the potential to bring about lifelong change.
When we first began the trainings to prepare for Nicaragua, it felt counter-intuitive to wait a few weeks before talking about Nicaraguan culture and what exactly we would be doing on the trip.
We began the trainings with a focus on understanding God’s mission and how He is and has been at work around the globe. We learned how we are part of God’s global mission and able to join Him in this work by learning from and serving with others.
Once we established a mindset and heart for listening to God, learning from those doing His work in Nicaragua, and listening for ways we could join in this work both in Nicaragua and in our own communities, we were ready to start talking about the beautiful people in Nicaragua, their culture, and the ministries we would be visiting.
Knowing that lifelong change does not usually occur in the scope of a week, we are partnering with ministries in Nicaragua that have been doing God’s work for a long time and will continue to do so after we leave. We have also created and signed a team contract that will help us encourage and keep each other accountable as we continue to explore the ways God is calling us to join Him in His work.
Many of the young people have never left the country before. And it is our prayer that their hearts will be attentive to what God has in store for us in Nicaragua and in our own communities when we return home.
While we are in Nicaragua, a different person from the team will write a blog post each day about a story or learning from the day. The posts will appear under the Faith Nurture and Global Mission tabs on The Network. They will be titled Nicaragua Listening and Learning Trip Day ___. We invite you to follow our experience through those blog posts and to keep us in your prayers as we embark on this journey on Friday!