Reflections from My Time in Mexico, by Nate Gangwer, Back2Back Mission Trip Participant

It remains extremely difficult to articulate my time in Monterrey, Mexico.  Most of what affected me and changed me and challenged my faith and broke my heart cannot be expressed with words and what can be expressed with words is still too much for a brief paragraph that someone might read.  I could write pages and talk for hours and show dozens of pictures and tell dozens of stories and read Bible verses and share songs and still what I feel in my heart and know down in my soul would be inexpressible.  And if I were asked to comment on my time cutting up tree stumps and loving orphans and serving the kingdom of Christ in Mexico five years from now I would still have great difficulty in sharing my convictions.  So I will limit my writing to one story.

Photo by Nate Gangwer

Throughout the week I had the privilege of removing stumps and trees, serving in a few different orphanages and a Rio.  This task was completed with a tremendous amount of labor and my shirts were often caked with dirt and soaked through with sweat so that mud developed along the front of my clothes.  I spent time fixing a chainsaw which repeatedly broke leaving me and my friends no other choice but to use machetes, pick-axes, and a regular ax which unfortunately broke after only an hour of use.  I tell you this background not for your sympathy or gratitude or approval, but to simply let you know that by the afternoon of our last day serving the beautiful children of Monterrey I was very tired.  I felt like someone had taken metal rods and glued them to my joints so that normal movement was nearly impossible and the word stiffness was a great understatement.

Photo by Nate Gangwer

On the last day, our group took orphans from a children’s home on a field trip.  We went to a local play place with a bouncy house and video games and hot dogs that could be washed down with soda and chips. The kids were eating and I finally had time to stop moving and rest.  So, I crawled up to this little stage at the front and flopped down next to some friends.  Then I looked up and saw for the first time in my life the pinnacle of God’s creation: humanity.

Looking back on the Creation story, God’s glory becomes manifested more and more with each day and the intricacy and mastery of His workmanship becomes more evident.  Creation crescendos and God’s uses all of His glory and might and love and power to create humanity after His image.  On that stage as I watched little boys and girls shove their mouths full with hotdogs and quench their thirsts with soda something inside of me shifted. Something inside me broke.  I have a passion for photography and I find myself standing in awe of God’s created sunsets and mountains and raindrops and beautiful colors and shapes.  But at that moment as my tired body lay on that stage I realized that I had been focusing on the wrong beauty.  Like always my heart missed being aligned with Christ’s.  I was focusing on the beginning of creation and neglecting the masterpiece: us.  The power of the Holy Spirit broke my heart in that realization and my perspective altered. People are the purpose of creation.  They are the reason that God’s justice is fulfilled by His grace.  People are God’s top priority, His primary concern.  Jesus Christ died for no other reason than to satisfy the will of God and bring about a supernatural and divinely controlled communion for the most beautiful thing in all creation.

Image by Nate Gangwer

The word compassion comes from the verb ‘pati’ which means ‘to suffer’ and the word ‘cum’ which means ‘with’ giving a literal translation ‘to suffer with.’  So when Jesus has compassion on the multitude in Matthew 9 He shares in their suffering.  In Colossians, we are challenged to be clothed with compassion.  When Jesus is greeted by the grieving soldier whose daughter had died, Jesus in all His glory and humanity and divinity, knowing the Old Testament claim in Jeremiah 29 that God has a plan for prosperity and comfort of His children, Jesus goes and weeps and mourns with the family even though he knows God is sovereign and even has the power to raise her from the dead, which he does.  In that story Jesus’ humanity and divinity are so intertwined that he has compassion and suffers with His creation.

I hope that we as a society will have brokenness like Jesus and be moved as He was moved.  I hope that we pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to come and grant us the ability to give everything we have to the Kingdom of God and the glory of Christ and have eyes that view the beauty of humanity as God sees it and are then moved to compassion.  May we give as the church in Acts gave and live with such a passion and love for God’s people that miraculous revitalization would sweep through our hearts and turn society to the foot of the cross on which Christ died.  I could write pages on what God taught me in Mexico and the weeks that followed, but instead I encourage you whoever you are to join me and so many of the martyrs and followers of Christ into a place that says ‘Yes Lord, I will follow you and love your people no matter the cost.’  The beautiful children of the world in all their innocence and purity in joy can pull a heart closer to Jesus like few things. The world desperately needs compassion and love; it needs the Gospel.

Photo by Nate Gangwer

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: