by Viki Payton
It was a joy to return to partnering globally for the sake of the gospel with our Global Mission Team to Dénia, Spain. During training we looked at the “Twelve Insights” in the Short-Term Missions Workbook by Time Dearborn; here is how we saw some of them in action.
God goes before you
Welcomed by a vibrant, growing multinational and multigenerational corps congregation, we were impressed with the lively worship, full participation and service by its friendly members and volunteers. Many took part in worship, and A/Captain Josh Polanco joined with the praise team, learning their style and encouraging them. Nearly everyone stayed after church to volunteer for the community feeding program, cooking and serving the meal, talking to guests, finding them clothes from the community closet, and cleaning and disinfecting the corps at the meal’s conclusion. As the missions workbook suggested, we were just catching up on a conversation God already was having there.
Short-term missions is a treasure hunt
Every day was a treasure hunt. We were awed by beautiful views of the coast from atop castle ruins. We enjoyed a wide variety of delicious food from Spain (including regional specialties from Valencia), Bolivia and Mexico thanks to our corps officer hosts and members of the multinational congregation who cooked for us. We discovered the corps is a haven for foreigners since many members are immigrants. Our favorite treasures were the people who became like family. In each one, we saw the image and character of God.
Love is the universal language
Although half our team members were bilingual, all of us relied on the universal language of love to communicate. It was not uncommon to see Major Nancy Mead connecting with women who would hold whole conversations with her while she smiled and nodded. On our final Sunday, goodbyes were long and difficult. We had forged strong bonds. We knew we were loved by our new family, and they knew they were loved by us.
People are more alike than their cultures
Though our cultures differ, we saw how similar we are. For instance, Major Catherine Mount, who is an officer mom of young boys, instinctively knew what our host officer mom of a young boy needed. She took care of the son, playing and holding him, in essence becoming an extra parent that week. Our team members who are recovering addicts connected with some of the corps’ young men who also are recovering addicts. They became friends and encouraged each other in their faith by sharing testimonies of God’s faithfulness.
In cross-cultural encounters we meet long-lost, distant relatives
From day one we knew we were family with the Dénia congregation. Envoy Scott Hurula commented that one of the greatest lessons from this week was the beauty of the Body of Christ, meeting such lovely people who felt like family.
Our privilege is to lift Jesus up in word and deed
While leading women’s ministries, prayer stations, kid’s club, teen time, two Sunday worship services, street outreach and in our personal conversations, we had the opportunity to lift up Jesus. We also lifted Jesus up in our actions, working hard every day, building relationships and caring for each other and those we met. Donald Cooper said feeling God’s presence so strongly has spurred him to action back home.
He is not alone. Captain Milly Lopez said she wants to recruit others to apply for a Global Mission Team, and already a member of her corps is planning to apply for the fall. Matthew Manley is excited to share his testimony of experiencing Jesus’ love in new ways through the people of Dénia.
If you would like to serve, learn and grow with our global partners, apply for the Global Mission Team to Chile, South America, in October. Visit www.centralmissions.org/GMT