I do not do well when put on the spot. If I don’t have time to formulate my thoughts on a particular subject, I am apt to enter “make it up” mode. I feel like I am decent at getting away with coherent thoughts that sound like I am saying something I believe. So when Pastor Bill asked me to share about my experiences going to Nicaragua during our Sunday meeting, I quickly decided that it would be more effective to say something that sounded good, that sounded believable and important, than to focus on the little voice whispering about a completely different direction for my unexpected time in the spotlight.
I talked about how “relationships” are the key to the Nicaraguan experience for me. If you know me at all, the little talk I gave would probably have surprised you. I don’t think I said anything that wasn’t true, but for me “relationships” aren’t really the biggest thing that has happened to me because of my trips to Nicaragua. I tried to mentally discredit the other direction for fear that it would be seen as bragging or sensationalist.
So please let me tell you what I should have said if I had listened to the still small voice inside. Allow me to share something that I really believe with my whole heart. I won’t walk away feeling fake after I share this.
My first Nicaragua trip forever altered the course of my life.
When I felt God tugging on my heart to go to Nicaragua, there was an additional caveat. I also felt a tug to document the trip. Which seems logical now in hindsight, but when I first began to think about it, it was anything but logical. I had no experience using a real camera, no experience creating any serious videos, and had barely even watched a full documentary. I also had no money in savings, no way to pay for the trip, and no equipment to use to document this trip. I even encountered resistance from close friends who told me that “no one is going to want to watch video of you guys making cement”. The odds seemed stacked strongly against this being something God wanted me to do. I was so unprepared and unable to do what I was being asked to do. Yet the voice inside demanded that I listen, so I signed up.
The trip was an incredible exposure to poverty, another culture, and I really did build incredible and lasting relationships (with the people on my team primarily). God showed up in amazing ways and continues to do so on every trip I have taken since. I now share a bond with brothers and sisters in Christ who are thousands of miles away. We recognize each other and one day will worship together in spirit and in truth when the son of man comes to claim his kingdom. I can count on one hand the number of experiences like this that I have had. I would not trade my Nicaragua experience for the world.
When I returned, the deep feelings and emotions associated with the trip eventually faded. My memory is slowly forgetting the little details that used to be so fresh. I don’t think about Nicaragua everyday or the Nicaraguans I met there. I am however still changed by the experience.
This next section is going to sound like I am bragging…there is probably a component of that in what I am saying, but I also want you to see what God has done in my life. I now work almost daily on new documentaries about missions. I have a long term project running with cameras in 5 different countries involving roughly a dozen other people. I’ve had a job (albeit briefly, by choice) as a media producer and worked with people who have made feature films. I have taken hundreds of thousands of photos and even have a few really decent photos to my credit. My life goal list includes items like “take a picture that changes the world” and “make a film with a missionary who later gives their life in the line of duty”. I ran a project that raised $15,000 for new homes in Haiti after the earthquake and will be starting my 4th trip to Haiti in a little under 2 weeks. All of these things are the direct result of listening to a God who said “Go”. I would NOT be where I am today if I had ignored God when he put a small voice in my heart. One size does not fit all, and my experience may not be yours, but if God is encouraging, nudging, prodding you to go…then my friends, you would be foolish not to. You could be missing out on an experience that God uses to change you forever.
If God calls