I embarked on my first University of Mobile mission trip 19 days after the unexpected passing of my father. This proud father was overjoyed with my call to the ministry and supported my every step. The last conversation I had with him was on a Friday afternoon, and he wanted to know how my funds were coming in for the trip to Brazil. He reassured me that on Monday morning he would put money in my account to pay off the remaining balance.
Monday morning never came for my dad. But because people loved my father and me, they donated funds in his memory, and I paid off the balance and prepared to board the airplane.
My servant's heart was in pieces, feeling like it was patched together with hot pink duct tape. I held tight to my suitcase and embraced my brother at the drop-off curb of the airport, a job once done by my father on other trips.
I went to the mission field with what I thought was my purpose -- ministering to the people of Brazil. Instead, God placed several people of Brazil in my path to minister to me.
God never ceases to amaze me with the way he places people into one's life at the perfect moment. The first time I met Angelica, she greeted me with a tear-filled smile and loving embrace, and then proceeded to tell me with the help of an interpreter about the loss of her father. She gave me words of encouragement, letting me know that if we both take hold to our Heavenly Father's hand, he will grant us all the peace and love we will ever need in this season of pain.
As I crossed the threshold of a small school nestled in the mountainous area of Rio Piracicaba, I was greeted with curious smiling faces. A blind man who teaches at the school introduced us to the 150 children seated.
"See, we are important. God sent these Americans to us," he said.
Paul wrote these words of encouragement in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which ourselves are comforted by God." These words became real for me when the people reached out to comfort me with the comfort they once received from God. They were following Paul's advice, and did a great job at it.
On the morning of our goodbyes, Manny pulled me aside to share with me about the loss of his mother and sister. He spoke words of hurt and pain, but those words of hurt and pain no longer lingered. Together we were able to rejoice because our loved ones were now in heaven with God -- no more suffering, just peace. This was a simple reminder that while I am here on this earth serving the King of Kings, my father is walking with the King of Kings!
Today we have 719 new members to the Kingdom of Heaven because of the team God sent to carry out his work in the hillside country of Brazil. In five short days a chapel was constructed, more than 1,500 children attended Bible school, and 900 people participated in the medical clinics. If one of those, just one, was touched because of my testimony or smile, then the heartbreak left behind after my father's death will all be worth it.
God might not necessarily have hot pink duct tape to mend a servant's broken heart, but He does have other servants who have felt his overwhelming love and reach out to comfort others in their times of need. I could talk about missions all day, but until you get out, step in it, you just will not understand. More times than most we step out to bless others, and more times than most God steps out to bless his servants as well.
As I crossed the threshold of the Mobile, Alabama, airport, the words of the teacher replayed in my mind, along with the loving words of my Father: "See my daughter you are important to me, and that is why I sent you to Brazil."
Debby Faught is a junior majoring in communication and intercultural studies at the University of Mobile.
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