Today I find myself in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Not for sun and fun, but in search of something. It’s not something I lost, but rather something I know will find me. While this has the making of a great riddle, it’s not.
With that, I gotta say… today was a good day.
Each time I travel internationally to set up service projects for a couple hundred college students for Southwestern Advantage’s annual incentive trip, I get nervous and excited all at the same time. Why? It’s because I know God is going to show up. It’s like clockwork. He always does.
Being in the tourist city of PV, the town is hopping with vacationers from all over the world. This city, like others in the country, was spawned to lure tourists and their discretionary income to enjoy the beauty and culture of the locals.
But there’s a little secret most of those on holiday are not let in on. It’s what lies just several miles outside the tourist district. It’s the dark side. Poverty, prostitution, drugs, alcohol, abuse, sex trafficking, hunger… you name it and you can find it. You see, with extreme poverty comes a whole host of other problems. But what I’ve come to learn is, in each of these places, there is a Heavenly Host present as well – an army of angels.
Not only am I protected by this army when I set out into the unknown, I also have a guide – the Holy Spirit. Every. Single. Time. He. Shows. Up. Without fail, God has come through with opportunity and people who are as missional and service-oriented as I want to be. I’ve met the most interesting people over the years.
- There was Magdalena who was sick and made a promise to God if she made it, she was going to start an orphanage. The orphanage never took root, but she did start a school that has hundreds of students off the streets in Punta Cana, Domincan Republic who are now receiving an education.
- There was Sonia who started La Escuelita in her home in Cancun because one crippled boy with polio was kicked out of school for defending himself. She has hundreds of students in her home each day who can not attend public school for various reasons.
- There was Ana Concepcion whose parents were killed in a car accident. She and her siblings lived in a house that was not really a house at all because it had only three walls and a tarp for a roof.
- Today, it was Art, Victor and Paco. They’ve started something in the poor Volcanes colonia that is impacting not only an entire community, but generations to come. Paco is in his second year of medical school and is a product of the Volcanes Education Project. He made a video for the organization that helped get him where he is and where he will one day be. He has nothing, but volunteers his time, energy, and little resources to give back to others.
Not only are all of these people life changers, but they also have had their life radically changed in order to do what they do. I can give example after example and testimony after testimony of people who have crossed our paths who we’ve been able to bless because of their efforts blessing others.
For me, both the thrill (and quite the education) has been in the chase. The chase is the scramble to locate the beneficiaries of our next blessing. The blessing we can give has grown from short-term projects to long-term vision. This started when Henry Bedford, CEO of Southwestern Advantage, challenged us to think bigger. Rather than give a family a bed, he said “Let’s build them a house.” And we did. It’s this mentality the Lord expects of his servants. “What more can be done?” is a question I find running through my head all day long.
I said earlier today was a good day. You have no idea. Myself and my friend and co-worker, Elisa Serrato, found ourselves in the presence of people who just earned a boatload of respect from us when we heard their stories and witnessed their results. This presence was also that of the Spirit moving us to them. These verses from 2 Corinthians spoke to me tonight.
8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
2 Corinthians 9:8-11
God provides. He provides every time we seek counsel and guidance on where to go and who needs help. And He provides for those doing the helping on the ground level. We all have a great harvest of generosity – it’s a matter of planting the seeds. If you’re not planting, you can’t really expect anything to grow. The ultimate satisfaction is when your harvest finds you and it is good. This happened when we visited the family of Ana Concepcion today (pictured). We took the gifts to those who needed them three years ago, and today they are still thanking God. This is emotional and powerful. Words can’t even begin to describe.
I started by saying I was looking for something. I was looking to be led by the ever-present Spirit of God. I was led, and then I was blessed by the people and places I went. I was also found by a previous harvest. When we sow generosity, we reap it. Today I found the harvest – and it was more than I thought it would or could be.