Following the call to GO!
A few years ago I was at a point of spiritual and personal rebirth. My family was becoming more embedded in the ministries at CPC, and on a Sunday morning in 2017, I heard about the work of Opportunity International and saw the slide about the Go!Trip opportunity. Something stirred inside of me that said Go. My son, sitting next to me, whispered, “You should go.” I said, “I’ll go, if you make it Mom’s idea!” And amazingly, my wife, Becky, wrote a note on the back of the bulletin that read: You should go. At the end of the service I walked out and met Lori Olson [OI employee], who said, “So are you gonna join us in Nicaragua?” I smiled, and with a bit of disbelief, simply said, “Yes.” It was clear to me that I was meant to go, but my yes was a feeling—there wasn’t any logic behind it.
I initially had a perception that I’d be doing things to serve the people there—like building wells or serving food. But boy, was I wrong. I didn’t know what I was getting into! Each part of the trip taught me some life lessons. Not only was I learning about the mission of OI and the communities they were impacting, but I was also experiencing prayer and relationships in a deeper and more powerful way.
What I love about OI is how they are bringing together people of faith to serve and grow the Kingdom of God. They are focused on breaking the cycles of poverty and investing in entrepreneurs to bring change in families and communities. I love how they are moving from giving emergency relief to helping participants live with dignity and independence. When I met the people of Nicaragua, I witnessed the deep sense of pride they had in their businesses, in their schools. I often heard Lori say, “They can do for themselves; where can we be of value to them and help them toward self-sufficiency?” Their principles really do result in outcomes that speak for themselves. To see the smiles of the participants—to see their joy and to witness their economic and spiritual development was inspiring.
That first step of faith led me to say yes to a second OI trip in 2019, when we traveled to Colombia. What resonates most clearly for me are the people we interacted with. From the community savings group we met (and the new friend I made in baby Mateo!) to interactions with our guide, Brian, who faithfully escorted us around the country. Brian and I took a lengthy walk down a rugged hill together, and we shared about family and faith. How God is meeting us and the honest longing for fellowship we desired. Our group had the chance to pray over Brian before we left, and his tears of appreciation spoke of the deep effect it had on him.
The opportunity to travel and see the work of OI in Nicaragua and Colombia has had a daily impact on me and my faith. I believe that any act of saying “yes” to God builds our understanding of who God is and what He desires to do in the world and in our own lives. I’d encourage others to ask God what He wants you to learn, and to be open—even if it doesn’t make any sense. It didn’t make sense that I was sitting in a pew, didn’t have a job, and decided to dip into our savings to go to Nicaragua. That makes no sense! If you forge into the uncomfortable and ask God to show up, He will. Don’t be afraid to follow what you’re feeling inside. Sometimes I think we avoid the nudges we get—we say, “I really shouldn’t do that.” But now I find myself receptive to those nudges. I feel like I’m more receptive to my faith and that I’m not the one in control but it’s the Holy Spirit working within me. I’m acting for His good—being beholden to Jesus and His call on my life. My heart is found in Him.