This is a repost of an article written in August of 2013 after traveling with Open Doors USA to visit persecuted Christians in Colombia. (This article is no longer available on the OD website.)
As an artist I struggled with the artistic gifts that God had blessed me with. I constantly questioned myself: how would God use my gifts? Where do these gifts fit in the body of Christ? I had always desired to use my gifts for missions work, but have never had the opportunity. However, in an instant it all changed. While glancing at my emails one day, there it was, the One Body, Many Gifts contest from Open Doors USA was an answer to my prayers.
After winning, I had certain expectations of what my trip would be like. I thought that my team and I would be going into a place that needed us to provide them with something they lacked. When I stepped off of the plane, I was presented with a completely different scenario.
How can I describe Colombia? It is such a beautiful and yet broken country. In the city skyscrapers line the horizon giving a sense of progress. Yet on street corners people sell what they can to make a living, and graffiti can be seen everywhere. As you move toward the countryside you begin to see more jungle and less people. Such a contrast to what I observed in the city. Yet, it was in this place that I met people who loved the Lord dearly. Compared to Americans materialistically they do not have much, but they have what they need and nothing is wasted. However in a spiritual sense, they are much closer to God than most Christians I know and they rely upon Him in everything they do.
I visited a school that teaches children who have suffered various forms of persecution, and I was completely blown away! The students were so bright and the teachers had such a heart not only for educating children, but also teaching them the word of God.
In the midst of all of this never did I once feel that I had contributed in a big way to the lives of these children like I had thought I would. Here they had shelter, food, education and most importantly the Lord. Questions ran through my mind: What am I here for? What are you trying to teach me Lord? He answered me:
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) Here in America it is our tendency to want to rescue a person from their trials and take them out of a terrible situation. However, the main goal of Open Doors is not to remove Christians from difficult circumstances, but to support them and strengthen them in the midst of that unfavorable situation. I was able to see first hand how we as a body of Christ must rally together, pray for each other and be united. In this way, we become stronger in the Lord and are able to continue on the path he has placed in front of us.
In being blessed with this trip the biggest thing that I learned is that even though the country is in turmoil and Christians are being persecuted, the Spirit of the Lord is greater and the gospel is stronger than ever.
Now that I am home I know that God wants me to use my gifts to tell the stories of His children, who are suffering, for His name. By becoming a Bridgebuilder I can educate people about what I have seen and heard in Colombia.