As we approach the 50 day mark until my family embarks on this life changing journey, I have been spending some time processing through the question of “why?” Why did God choose us to do this? Why me? What is it about this country, this city, that totally grasped my heart and has not let go? As an introvert I process everything internally, and it usually takes time. I have been processing these questions over the past several months through the busyness of preparing to move a family out of the country.
When I think about it, I am completely humbled and sometimes even confused at how God can use someone like me for His glory. The conclusion I’ve reached through my thought process is that when I look at Guatemala City I see a reflection of myself, or better yet the person I was before I began to follow Jesus. When most people think of Guatemala City (especially Zone 18), they see chaotic, dirty streets and angry, dangerous people. I think the same adjectives could be used to describe me before Jesus became the light in my dark life. Before I met my bride-to-be, I lived life very selfishly, and I was reckless – with my body, my mind, and my heart.
Looking back I see that in times that I thought I was flying, I was actually falling. Sometimes the only way to tell the difference is when you hit the ground.
Luckily I never had to go that far down to realize that my life was going in the wrong direction. I was looking for approval, acceptance, and love in places that could never truly give me any of these things. I drank too much, played around with drugs, and viewed women as conquests. I can say these things without fear knowing that I have been redeemed from sin’s hold on my life. I am unashamed of my story because it’s the story of God at work.
I am reminded of Romans 1:16: “I want to preach it because I’m not ashamed of the good news. It is God’s power to save everyone who believes.” I was a wreck and headed for destruction. There is no way my story could have ended well as long as I was in control. Luckily God had other plans to use my story for his good.
I met Becca in 2006 and the next year we had our son Bryce. Our relationship at the beginning was focused solely on ourselves and our selfish desires. Even though our son was created through a sinful act outside of God’s will, God showed me that He can turn all things for His good and that is truly what He did.
The birth of my son was the event that really started to turn my life around. I was not perfect by any means. I struggled with my past, and will always struggle with certain things. But if I had to mark a moment that my life changed it was when I became a father.
During Bryce’s early years, we explored some churches and nothing really fit until we happened into the doors of Stonecreek Church in Milton, GA. Something was different about this place. It was one of the few places we spent time at that we never felt like people were looking at us in judgement, but instead we were welcomed with hugs and love. A short time after we starting attending regularly, the senior pastor, Steven Gibbs, talked through a marriage series and through his message he really set the ground work for the spouse that I wanted to be. I began to discover that this place was truly different and I wanted more of what they had! In the coming days, weeks, years, this place has become our home.
At Stonecreek I learned that being a Christian man does not mean I become weak, but rather that Christian men are warriors with strength and purpose!
It was through Stonecreek that I went on my first mission trip to Guatemala in 2013, with a group of mostly men, then through this trip God sparked a fire that is now leading us to Guatemala full time! What I saw in Guatemala was really a lot of what I saw in myself. On the surface there is a lot of scars left from fatherless children, abuse, drug use, alcohol abuse, poverty, violence, and death. But in the midst of all of this, I saw beauty, charm, hard work, joy, faith, and most importantly HOPE. Not just any hope, but the hope that only the love of Jesus brings, the hope that brought living water to the woman at the well. The hope that rescued me from my life of darkness and destruction. The hope that brings purpose to my story.
God has called me to Guatemala to fulfill this purpose. When I see Guatemala I see a lot of myself – dirty, broken, and dark. But I also see a light in Guatemala, and in myself, that is bright. The light of God’s truth is shining in darkness – repairing the brokenness, cleansing the dirty, and bringing everlasting hope.
Through my time serving at Hope for Guatemala, I have seen how God’s love has worked through this organization to produce little lights that are being sent out on mission in Zone 18. The kids and young adults served by the ministry are shedding the light of Jesus in their city. I see this same light in myself now when I look in the mirror and it is because of Jesus. To quote the Gospel poet Lecrae, “In what other story does the hero die so the villains can live?” This is exactly what we experience with the grace that Jesus provides. I believe that God’s plan is perfect and everything that has happened in my life has been to prepare me for this adventure He is leading my family on. God has a purpose for all of our lives and he works all things for our good (Romans 8:28), sometimes you just have to take some time to reflect. You just have to look in a mirror to see it.