"Expect to be Fulfilled"
WHY we do it
Before accepting the Office and Program Coordinator position with Humbly I Serve, Maria ventured out with a committed band of workers to the annual Seaside Adventure Camp in St. Thomas over the summer. Though she has gone on several other missions trips before, she felt that “this organization is really filling a need that no one else was coming close to.” By connecting with the children and building relationships, she saw their hearts soften and open to receive the Gospel of hope and peace. After her “very unique” experience with HIS, Maria reflects that “it’s not easy, but it’s satisfying knowing that what you’re doing is making a difference.”
As Head Female Counselor, Maria’s roles were very diverse. She was responsible for overseeing the safety and participation of each of the girls, teaching health/hygiene seminars on maintaining morality as teenage girls, leading cabin devotions, and chaperoning groups around the island during recreational time. Through each of these activities, the initially suspicious, skeptical campers began to cling to their counselors and build relationships founded upon proven trust and consistency. This foundation establishes the necessary basis in sharing the Gospel to the spiritually confused, hopeless children.
Maria noticed a different dynamic in the “abrasive” culture of St. Thomas. She found that the majority of campers had never been taught the power of words and the intrinsic value in every individual as a creation of God. When parents communicate with their children through harsh words and crude names, the children grow up lacking verbal affirmation and continue to spread the pattern of disrespect through the future generations. As a result, Maria adapted her lessons to address the issues the campers presented. She taught respect by explaining how God sees His people: clothed in Christ’s righteousness. For one practical exercise, she had each of the girls tell the group their favorite things about each other. The girls appreciated this activity because they were able to accurately apply this truth in their lives, while seeing the difference it made in each of them.
Many children at Seaside Adventure Camp come from broken, fatherless homes and often suffer from verbal or physical abuse. They see Christianity as a religion of rules with very little passion or relational aspects. Naturally, the campers appear hardened or “jaded” at first, but soon blossomed under the consistent support and love demonstrated by the HIS staff. Maria recognized that “the greatest need in St. Thomas is role models for the kids.” Unfortunately, previous generations offer no success stories for the young ones to look up to. That is why HIS’s mission to reach the children of the island and equip them with Biblical truth is so important. This “generation needs to offer hope to the next, because otherwise they’re stuck in a cycle.”
One girl in Maria’s group was falsely accused of stealing money. If her mother found out, the girl would be beaten. She was convinced her mother did not even love her because of the physical and verbal lashings. The young girl was visibly shaking in fear and dread. However, as she heard the message of the Gospel, Maria noticed that she went “from shaking to composure; I believe that’s what the Gospel does… it doesn’t fix our circumstances, but it brings us peace…because our identity is anchored securely in God." For Maria, it was “very real to see that” transformation take place directly in front of her.
Reflecting on the ministry in St. Thomas, Maria explains what is so “unique” about Humbly I Serve’s summer programs. She believes a lot of people misunderstand the purpose of an actual missions trip. To many, it is about a “feel- good tourism… to pay money for a vacation to feel good and look good.” When in reality, the focus is to offer freedom to others ensnared in spiritual bondage. Do not expect a “preplanned itinerary…because the goal is to show even greater love to people not loved.” Things will definitely not always operate according to a calculated plan, so “expect resistance, but know that the power of God through Christ’s resurrection is more powerful," and that power is working through His servants. The joy in serving this particular mission field is found in “expecting the mighty ways He’ll show up.”
And at the end of the day, “expect a healthy, satisfied exhaustion because you’re giving you’re all.”
Expect to be… “fulfilled.”