Youth on a Mission: A Personal Reflection

I remember very vividly my first experience in the third world.  I was fourteen and I went on a short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic.  Up until that point I had dreams of being an art teacher, or an art therapist, or possibly even an occupational therapist.  I was still very young and had a lot of time to determine what it was that I wanted to do with my life.  My experience that week in the Dominican Republic though, changed the course of my life.  It was that week that I witnessed a reality that so many of the world lives in the day to day, one that I had no idea previously existed.  It was a world where people didn’t have the basic necessities of life such as sufficient food, clothing, shelter and water.  The people and conditions I saw left a permanent mark on my memory.

In El Salvador, neighbors have been gathering for bible studies with our families on the ground. Betsy's family is one of three families that was living in El Salvador for the last 6 months.

It was that week that I witnessed people in desperate need. As I turned to God, I learned more about who he was, and what he wanted me to do with my life.  It was that week that I committed my life to serving the poor and to following God.  I didn’t know what that would look like, but I was willing to do what the LORD was calling me to.  Although I was only 14, I believed it with my whole heart, and to this day, 14 years later, that commitment I made still motivates me.

For the past 14 years I have been striving to follow the voice of the LORD, doing what it is that he wants with my life.  Since that time I’ve had the opportunity to serve in the Dominican Republic, in Haiti, in Mexico, and in Guatemala.  I am still committing myself to the LORD, committing myself to serving the poor as a result of my initial experience to the DR.  For the past 8 years in particular I’ve been training and serving with G.O.D. Int’l, preparing myself and my family to live and serve in El Salvador as long term development workers.  The LORD has kept me and has continued to work with me with my commitment since I was 14!  This I believe is a testament to the LORD’s faithfulness.

SLAM students were able to help at the local school. This school is very close to where the families have been staying. Betsy has been teaching English at the school three times a week.

For the past 6 months my family and I have been living and serving in El Salvador.  We have had many wonderful experiences, we have learned a lot, and we are motivated to continue to train and prepare for the day that we return for an even longer period of time.  However, one of the specific opportunities that we have gotten to be involved in is SLAM (Students Living a Mission) El Salvador.  Because El Salvador is relatively close to the United States, our organization offers the opportunity for youth groups to join us in our work as we facilitate short-term mission weeks for interested youth groups.  This summer, we will have facilitated 4 short-term mission weeks in El Salvador, consisting of nearly 50 youth.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to the disciples as he informed them that ‘the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few’ (Matthew 9:37).  There is so much work to be done in and around the world, and so many people in need, but yet there are often not enough people who are willing to respond.  I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work with SLAM youth in El Salvador as we introduce them to our Salvadoran neighbors and hopefully expose them to another reality.  This week was similar to a week long experience I had 14 years ago--one that changed my life forever.