This past April I had the privilege of going on a weeklong mission trip to Mexico sponsored by Azusa Pacific University. It was only because of my faith in Jesus Christ that I decided to take some time off from Westmont College to join the highschoolers from my home church (Foothill Covenant) to live on a dusty plain and in the hot sun of Mexacali.
God gave me the desire once again to minister to the children of Islas Agrarias, a village that Foothill Covenant has been reaching out to for the past 17 years. I hadn't been to this village for three years and wondered about renewing past relationships with the children I had grown to love.
I had a good feeling about this group of people that God had brought together. Our team made it across the border with no problems, and the first couple of days of Vacation Bible School (VBS) went smoothly. It was especially meaningful for me to reunite with Karla, a girl I met when she was only 8 years old, who is now 15 and in high school. She had grown into a beautiful young woman and we were able to spend lots of time together.
I prayed that God would give me and the other team members the passion to win the people in this church over to Him, and put challenges in our path in order to grow closer to Him. God heard that prayer and certainly gave us some hardships. Out of these hardships I saw God's hand at work, and my faith was strengthened.
There were two very difficult situations that my team had to face: First, we were told that there was another church that would like our group to do a VBS with their children. While the team knew this was a great opportunity to win more children over to the Lord, we didn't want to leave Islas Agrarias where we already had relationships and rearrange our curriculum. We thought this task was impossible to work out. Despite our initial fears, God put it on our hearts to go to the other village.
The second hardship we faced was a negative article about us on the front page of the Mexican newspaper. The Mexican government did not want Americans to convert their people to Christianity because then the citizens would be under God's control and not the government's. As a precautionary measure, all of us (over 2,000 young people from many churches) were told not to talk about God in our villages at all. But, our team prayed together and God's plan was once again much better than any of ours.
I am amazed every time I see God work in such miraculous ways. It is easy to get caught up in the hardships of life, but I have learned each struggle is an opportunity to pray and rely more on God. I encourage any believer in Christ to go on a short-term mission trip and see for yourself how God can move mountains.
Fernqvist is a Los Altos resident.