Tuesday, September 28, 2010
A couple weekends ago I had the privilege of sharing a pivotal moment in my life with our fellow believers at Pathway Community Church. It was Missions Weekend at church and I was asked to share how God has changed my life through short-term missions. I want to share the story with you too...
I want to tell you about a place that is very special to me. It’s called the Hole. Just as the name implies it’s a hole in the middle of Santiago, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. The Hole is a slum that is full of drugs, violence and poverty. In the middle of the Hole is a church that our friends from G.O. Ministries partner with. On my first trip to the Dominican Republic our team was sent to the Hole to conduct a VBS at the church and to feed the kids lunch. We were dropped off at street side and began to make our way down the steep decline to the bottom of the Hole. With every step the smell of sewage became more powerful. But, halfway down some thing amazing happened. Our group was overrun by kids. They came from everywhere. They wanted to climb on us, hold our hands and play games. By the time we got to the church I was carrying two kids and had one more trying to climb on me. These kids who had so little were so excited and happy to see us. Once inside the TINY church (with 60 kids!) we did a simple VBS with songs and fed them lunch. After we finished and the children were all gone, I feel to my knees and began to cry. At that moment God changed my heart. In an instant he changed me from a cynical man that could care less about the plight of the poor or injustice. I was filled with a sense of urgency to live a life of purpose and service. That experience was seven years ago and I have been back every summer since. Four years ago when my family and I moved to Ft. Wayne I presented Pastor Ron and the Missions leadership with the opportunity to take a team to the Dominican. They thought it was a great idea and challenged me to lead the team. I was like whoa…I just want to go, not lead! But God was telling me I was ready. Lydia was able to go with me on Pathway's first trip two years ago and when we got back we both felt God was calling us to do something more than just a one week trip. We committed to praying about God’s plan for our family. God answered our prayers with a clear vision of how we could serve and we have committed to joining our friends at G.O. Ministries full-time. In January I’ll step away from my career at the YMCA, a job I love, it had been my dream job.
The point of my story is this...I had to walk down in a hole with God. I had to smell, touch, and see with my own eyes what’s out there. I had to look at a kid covered in filth who I didn’t want to pick up at first and hold him. In that hole, God changed my heart and my life was changed forever. I believe that God is challenging each and everyone of us to walk into a hole. I encourage you to step outside your box and into the hole where he is calling you.
Posted by The Gard Family at 6:08 PM