By Stacey in Chile!
I love the beaches here. If I could lay out on the beach every day, I totally would. I also love the friendships here. The other students with ISA are great, and so are the Chileans. It’s so much fun to be with Americans, other people who are just figuring out this place too. We have met a few people in the church here as well and they are SO cool. I can’t wait to know them better/ understand more of what they say (haha). However, if I were to come to Chile just to live on the beaches and make awesome friends, I will have wasted my time. If I came to Chile to solely observe cultural differences such as public displays of affection or the number of stray dogs in the streets, my semester would be wasted. Even if I were to come here for the purpose of becoming fluent in Spanish, my time would be wasted. None of these things are negative and most are beneficial. Those are great things, and I do want to enjoy every day God gives me here. But hear this, a life not lived to absolutely glorify God is a wasted life. In Philippians we see that Paul’s goal in life is to know Christ and gain Christ. “All else is rubbish” (J. Piper in Don’t Waste Your Life, paraphrase of Phil. 3:8). These other things are trivial. If I come to Chile and go to the beach but have not gained more of Christ, I’ve wasted it. If I come for the purpose of making new friends but do not use those relationships to magnify Christ, I’ve wasted it.
So what do I do then? How can I live in Chile and make the most of Christ when I can’t even speak Spanish? How do we not waste our lives?
First, I am not only with Spanish speakers. I am surrounded by friends from my home country, who speak my language. The few spiritual conversations I’ve had with fellow American students have shown me how absolutely crucial those conversations are. I never thought I would have come to Chile and lived out the gospel to other American college students, but that is one group of people in Chile that I have no language barrier with. God has given me an open door with my friends here…we are all in Chile and we all know English!
Second, my home here continues to be such a blessing. I had the opportunity to meet the whole family that lives in Chile (about 10 people or so) this past weekend. They are so loving and kind and have truly made me feel like I belong. Their support of my mission here is also incredible. Where would any missionary be without support from fellow believers? And even my Chilean family is my support system. Also, I have had so many God-honoring conversations with my host brother. We have talked reformed theology…which I love. We have talked missions… which I also love. One way to live a life for Jesus is to talk about him constantly! While this needs to happen with more than just other believers, having a Christian community is such a vital part of our faith. We weren’t meant to do it alone. In fact, it would be impossible. Not only do I have community at home but with my fellow Veritas students (the Christian program I am traveling with) as well. It’s a gift from God to get to serve alongside other believers during this semester. I am living in community, so I can be rejuvenated by the gospel and work as a part of the body of Christ, not as an individual.
The primary way I want to honor God here is through missions. I had the chance to volunteer with an elderly ministry here at the church. It was fun to hear the stories of people who have lived through so many different experiences. I’ve also had the chance to visit a children’s home for girls. That is my heart’s home! I have only gone twice but those girls were climbing all over us “gringas” and playing games with us and talking to us. They also love to steal our belongings as a game…but that’s fine as long as they give it back eventually. I am so excited to spend more time there building relationships and showing Christ to a houseful of young girls (ages 4-13ish) who need love. There are many more missional opportunities ahead that I look forward to…I just haven’t been to everything yet! I did not come to Chile for me, but for Christ. Because his mission is to make His name known, my desire is that my life should do the same.
I am taking classes to learn Spanish, so I can communicate the gospel. I am working with the church in different mission fields, so I can bring the gospel to people who need it in Chile. I am with other students from the U.S., so I can be a light in the darkness. There will be many times that I fail. I am far from perfect. Thankfully, Christ died for that. Even in moments of failure, I will press forward for the name of Christ. It’s not about me. As soon as it becomes about me, it’s all in vain. My prayer is that that may never be true.
As I am in Chile, I challenge you to do the same wherever you are. Live your life only for Christ. Don’t spend time on foolish things that will not last or place all your hope in fleeting pleasures. Don’t waste it.