While in His presence

Katanga Johnson | Ecuador

The figures of impact were impressive during a recent medical outreach in the indigenous region of Guamote in Ecuador. But only because He showed up.

It's easy to reflect after an amazing medical outreach and consider the impact. Even more common is to ponder the ways that you may have grown in your understanding of the Lord while serving on His mission.

But what happens when the Holy Spirit presents Himself, in even the most minute details? For example, in organising an intercultural team that uniquely connects, it seems natural; opening the hearts and minds of an indigenous people, which normally places scepticism over trust of foreigners; making medicine and medical attention secondary to the prayers and counselling of a listening ear, and listening heart.

Only the presence of the Creator of the universe could foster and produce these testimonies. The figures of impact were impressive, but only because He showed up. The tears of deliverance were only induced by one glimpse of Him. The forgiveness and the freedom only warrants appreciation of His grace. As for the healing, the presence of the Lord shattered any possible attention-seeking spirit that may have disguised itself as accomplishment to capture our attention, confirming that the labour was the Lord's effort, not ours.

"God is calling us to worship Him," said OM team leader Doctor Eddie Moore, as we concluded our first night after serving the community of Encalado, Ecuador, the first of four locations in Guamote. "We are to respond to His call and let the rest of our service here be a result of the overflow from our worship."

With this desire to serve from the overflow as the impetus, our team intended to use every opportunity to serve the Lord through our worship to Him, first, then to serve the community.

That day, we attended 175 people—the highest number for the week! As the week progressed, the number of patients who received medical attention still reflected an amazing journey with the Lord; 162 on day two, 129 on day three, 117 on day four and 77 on the fifth day.

God's priority

Miraculously, however, as we attended fewer patients for medical attention, and as the communities became smaller in size, the number of visits to the prayer room increased—nearly twice as many people desiring counselling and prayer than in the days before!

"What a beautiful display of God's priority; He wants emotional healing so as to draw hearts completely to Him," said Ken Webb from Texas, USA, who, with his wife, Amber, joined the short-term outreach team after hearing testimonies from their close friends that participated in last year's outreach in Cañar, Ecuador.

As Ken led people before the throne of grace in the prayer room, many others experienced the presence of the Lord across the outreach.

Take the experience of Karen Sloan, a wife and mother of three, who travelled to Ecuador after hearing God's call to serve in short-term missions. She recalls the presence of God being distinct, even in triage, the first point-of-contact with the patients: "Matthew 11:30, where Christ declares, ‘For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,’ was my default promise as I served  the mature patients, so many of whom were suffering from the similar symptoms. For me, that verse helped me to wear its promise of Christ and a smile [for] each patient, despite their discomfort."

On the football field, Andrés Celi and Cristian Molina testified of the unity that sports fosters as a clear example of Christ's presence, even in competition.

"This differs from our normal experiences of having to discourage swearing and frustrating arguments between young men during our SportsLink ministry. [There were] so many of the young girls on our team who presented spirit-filled dramas and worship time before each match—God has plans for these future leaders here," Andrés admitted.

Release of control

Even for experienced medical professional Doctor Celia Silva, who has been involved in numerous medical missions in rural parts of her native Peru, attested to the glorious reality that "there is much to learn while operating under the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than merely on our own efforts."

Local community leaders, as well as members of the Ecuadorian Cooperation of Socioeconomic Integral Development (CODEINSE), share the sentiments of Doctor Silvia, but from their perspective as agents of community change. Raúl Morrocho, President of CODEINSE remarked, "I am left amazed; these communities are nearly impossible to reach in any genuine profound way, but God has left me amazed at the beginning of the labour in this field through our release of control to Him."

This said, it is important to highlight that OM's work in this region of Guamote has only just began. In two weeks, the OM Andean Region's annual mission school will spend another week evangelising and connecting with families and youth from Guamote. Ten prospective missionaries from across Latin America and two facilitators will be involved in the seven-day practical outreach.

Later in July, OM Ecuador will collaborate with a short-term team from Panama to aid in the construction of a water project in Guamote—all this before the return of a medical team, focused on ophthalmology and donating eyeglasses, in November.

Testimony

"We say thank you to the entire short-term team from Abilene, Texas, for being willing to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit through our collective efforts, and to the OM Ecuador team for their response to God's call," said Mafer Morla, OM Ecuador short-term missions coordinator, who also facilitates the medical outreaches.

OM Ecuador is committed to bringing transformation to lives and communities across the nation of Ecuador, including its diverse and indigenous regions. We are open to receiving short-term teams who wish to be involved in our Kingdom assignment; this collaboration proves the promise of Revelation 7:9-10, in which all tongues and nations are described as serving the Lord, declaring that, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (NIV).

While it's easy to value the big things in life, the things that seem important to everyone and grab our attention quickly, we know God's kingdom values things differently. The 2015 medical outreach sought to value what God values most: complete surrender to the presence of His Holy Spirit to complete the perfect work in us.

This surrender to His presence is our testimony, and if it holds true what Doctor Eddie constantly reminded us: "A testimony is not a testimony until it's shared!"

Katanga Johnson, a native of The Bahamas, is serving in Ecuador. He aims to actualise the love and faith of Christ to challenged communities of youth by advocating on their behalf through narratives. An avid reader, Katanga also enjoys running, cycling and public speaking.

Published: Tuesday, 01 September 2015
Credit: Katanga Johnson
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