An Altered Life: Reflections on El Salvador
As I prepared for my missions trip to El Salvador this summer, I repeatedly petitioned God to have a life-altering experience. My truest desire was not to return to my home church the same person, the same Christian that I was before. Going into this trip with faith and serving a God who never disappoints; that is exactly what this trip was for me.
As I recount the days, there were countless experiences that have changed my life forever. Each and every day God spoke to me through an abundance of avenues, showing me things I needed to learn to help me change, or grow in my life.
However, one particular experience has stood out for me the most, and it occurred in a church with half of a roof, lawn chair seats, a floor of mud and dirt, and an additional congregation of insects invading constantly. After a long bus ride that brought us to one of the most poverty-stricken areas we had seen in El Salvador, we arrived at this church.
Filled with people, this service was one of the best attended of any we’d experienced on the trip. The rows of seats were full of people desiring to hear the Word of the Lord; and as we proceeded to cover every inch of our bodies in bug spray and wave makeshift fans to fight against the sweltering heat, they intently listened to the Word of God.
As the sermon began to close, a lone, elderly man made his way to the front—before an altar call was even given—and threw himself on the ground crying out to God. As Brother Slaydon continued to speak, the people came out in droves, rushing the altar and falling onto their knees in the mud. Hands, feet, knees and faces covered in dirt, dust, and mud, and their complete focus was their worship.
As I leaned down to pray with a young lady, adjusting my skirt so as not to get it dirty, I realized the lesson these people were preaching to me. You see, we went to El Salvador to minister to people, but they taught me more than I ever could have expected. These people, dressed in most likely their best clothes, threw themselves into the mud without even a thought and worshipped their God without abandon.
They did not let any outside force effect their reaching God and having their needs met. No heat, no mud, no pestilence was going to keep them from their Creator. And it was in that moment that I remembered that it was from the dust I was created.
Because these people physically have so little, they have nothing to hold them back. They have no personal bubble to protect and no limits to how they will worship God. Brokenness is a daily lifestyle, because they truly understand that He is their only salvation. He is everything.
I sat there weeping at their dirt altar and thanking God for showing me how much more I need to desire Him; how I must never let this world, or society, dictate my worship and how I need to be more desperate for His touch.
My God is a God who answers prayers, and this church proved that in my life once again. I left El Salvador with an altered life, an altered perception, and an altered hunger for my Savior.
This trip was full of twists and turns, ups and downs, tears and laughter. There were conversations, sermons, testimonies, and bus rides full of song that I will never forget. But, above all, I will remember a mud-floored church where I realized how much I need my Savior.