Where shall I work?
“Where shall I work today dear Lord?”
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then the Lord pointed out a tiny place
And said, “Tend that for me.”
I cried aloud, “O Lord not there,
Why no one could ever see
How well my work was done.
Not that little place for me.”
When the Lord answered, He was not harsh
He answered me tenderly, “Tell me precious child of mine,
Are you working for them or for me?
Nazareth was a little place and so was Galilee.”
~ Stanley Singleton
This poem is written on a large stone monument right in the middle of Oneida Baptist Institute in Oneida, KY. It’s message is very powerful. How many times in our lives do we feel God calling us to serve Him in a way that no one will know what we’re doing it? Is there a neighbor who needs help or a ministry that needs some behind the scenes people? How willingly do we sign up for tasks that we know will give us no recognition beyond the person we are serving?
We spent last week on mission in Oneida helping the church reach out and share the love of Jesus with their community. We did service projects in the morning, soccer clinics in the afternoon and VBS in the evenings. Oneida is a very small community with a population of about 1,500 people. But just because the community is small, doesn’t mean that our work here there was small. We ministered to the pastor of Oneida Baptist Church and to several children who came to the park for VBS. We helped organize and paint in the Friendship House, a clothes shop that sells used clothing, books, shoes, etc. to the community for just 25 cents. We helped the lady in the gift/craft shop make gift bags to give to the new OBI staff to welcome them. These may seem like small unimportant tasks. But we must remember that everything we do is to be done for the glory of God. It doesn't matter if we are ministering to 15 or 150. It doesn't matter if anyone notices the work we are doing or not, because when we listen and obey God's leading our work will bring glory to Him.
We never know what God's calling on our life will lead us to do. We may think that what we're doing is insignificant or doesn't really matter. So what if we build a ramp at a pastor's house, mow some grass or do VBS for 25 kids. Sometimes we think that we have to go to another country to really make an impact for God. However, no service done in the name of Jesus Christ is ever wasted. Our service last week made an eternal impact in the lives of 3 children who accepted Christ. Plus seeds were planted in the lives of many other children and adults.
It's wonderful to accomplish great things for Christ, but sometimes God's greatest works happen when we join Him in the little things. Showing God's love can be as simple as a smile or saying hello. It can be pushing little kids on the swings or blowing bubbles. It can be sitting down beside them during Bible story or dancing to the music during worship. It can be holding someone's hand and getting sprayed with water with them when they're a little apprehensive. Everything we do matters to God.
So where will you work for God today? Are you willing to go to the small places and do the seemingly insignificant work for Him? Are you working to get recognition from others or for the glory of God?
On Sunday, June 24th we celebrated the 1 yr anniversary of a church plant in the community of Rosario Murillo in Nicaragua. Rich spoke and the title of his message was “Never the Same”. The main point was
that after we accept Christ we are never the same. The old is gone. The new has come. We have a change in heart, mind, & behavior. When we encounter Christ we are forever changed.
I think that thought can also apply to missions. After you go and serve in another country or another state or another community, you are never the same. After spending a week in Nicaragua last summer, I came home with a whole new perspective on the “essentials” of life. I became disgusted with wastefulness
& overindulgence. I looked at all of the material things that we owned and realized how little we really needed. So I started cleaning out and getting rid of things that just took up space. And I didn’t just focus on possessions.
I began evaluating the time I spent each day watching tv, searching the internet & chatting with friends versus the amount of time I spent each day studying God’s Word, praying & serving others. I started looking at what frivolous things I spent money on. Anytime I felt like I just needed a new gadget for the house, I would think of the families in Nicaragua who had to do laundry by hand on a washboard. Anytime I felt crowded and just wanted more counter space in my kitchen, I thought of the families in Nicaragua who shared tiny homes with 10+ other family members and whose kitchen sinks were outside their homes. Anytime I would get frustrated because we only had 1 vehicle, I would think of the families I saw riding around Managua on motorcycles. When you see the joy and contentment on the faces of people who have nothing but Jesus, you are forever changed.
Upon returning from Nicaragua this summer, I expected to have the desire to clear out the excess and focus on the essentials. I expected the post missions trip blues and the desire to go back as soon as possible and take the entire family. One thing that I did not expect was overwhelming peace in the uncertainty of our lives. I don’t have a clue how the next chapter of our lives will unfold and I can honestly say that I am ok with that. I know that God is in control and that he will provide because he has proven Himself to be faithful time and time again.
My desire is to do whatever brings Him glory and to train my children to do the same. God is preparing our family for something big and we are following Him wherever He leads. We are giving Him a blank check and asking Him where He wants us to serve. We are no longer the same Carlson family desiring to live a happy
carefree comfortable life. We desire to radically serve Him because we have been forever changed.
“In Nicaragua, as in other Central American countries, there are many children in need of help. There are thousands of children living in extreme poverty where many struggle to find enough food to survive each day. Coupled with this, there are many children who live in abusive situations. Sometimes the abuse is a result of the poverty, but often caused by a culturally poor view of children and their value and an overall lack of spiritual conviction and education. In light of the many needs that exist, we feel God's calling to minister and care for young ladies who have been subjected to abuse. While many children's homes offer a good place to sleep and eat, it is our goal and vision to do something more. It is our goal to minister to each young lady spiritually, emotionally and physically with the love of Jesus Christ.” ~ Karl & Beth Brassfield, Emmanuel Home of Protection.
We had the privilege of seeing the vision of Karl & Beth Brassfield firsthand. We spent an afternoon & evening with the girls at the Emmanuel Home of Protection located in Dirambia, Nicaragua. Even though their capacity is 32, they currently are caring for 45 children. These children are sent to them by the Ministry of Families, an entity of the Nicaraguan government. However, they receive no government funding to provide care for these children. Everything they do is done with the help of missionary support and sponsorships.
The Brassfield’s mission is to provide a place where girls can feel love and develop a healthy self-esteem. They teach them Biblical principles and provide each girl with the opportunity to know Jesus Christ as personal Lord, Savior and Healer. They recently had several girls accept Christ.
Sharing our photo book with the girls
When we arrived at the home, the girls were all outside waiting for us. As soon as I stepped off of the bus, they were coming up to me giving me hugs and introducing themselves. They were all very excited to see us. One girl especially touched my heart. Her name is Natalia and she’s 13. She was the first girl that greeted me and she greeted me in English. All throughout the evening she would come up to me and put her hand on my heart and then put it on her heart. She would smile and say “mi Corazon” (my heart).
Me and Natalia
We had a wonderful evening doing crafts, playing games and providing yummy lasagna for dinner & ice cream for dessert. Due to the extremely tight budget at the home, the girls usually eat rice and beans 3 meals a day. They were all so excited to have lasagna. It was also a nice treat for us as a team. We had so much lasagna that many girls had seconds and there was enough left for them to have it for lunch the next day.
Before we left, the girls all gathered around and sang two songs for us. They all sang with such passion and enthusiasm. Then our team leader got out his guitar and played a song for us all to sing together. The girls sang in Spanish and the team sang in English. It was such an amazing sound of praise to God!!
Please pray for Karl & Beth Brassfield as they minister to these girls. They are doing such an amazing job showing Christ's love to every child who enters the home.
During our week in Nicaragua we built a playground on the campus of Centro ABEM. The finished product is a testament to how God equips us when He has a task for us to complete.
You see there were 15 of us on the team and we’d never done this kind of thing before. Many of us didn’t even know each other very well. A couple of the guys on the team had some construction skills and a few of the women on the team
had never used a power tool before. However, each day God showed us what could be accomplished in His strength.
Our team leader would divide us up into groups of 2 or 3 people each day and give us a job. Every day we worked with different people on the team and every day we had a different task to complete. Every day we had to share tools with other groups. There were times when it got very challenging to complete your task because someone needed your tool or someone needed to work in the same space you were in. Those times required us to take a step back and remember the big picture of what we were doing and why.
We all had our own opinions about the methods of assigning tasks, but by the end of the week it was very clear that we had become more than a team. We built bonds with each team member as we worked together and became a great big family. One of the missionaries wanted to know how many other playgrounds we had built together. He was sure we had worked together on several projects before this one. The only explanation is that God had his hand on this project.
It was definitely a God thing the way the weather was perfect each and every day. There were cool breezes throughout the morning and even though it was the beginning of the rainy season…there was no rain at Centro ABEM. There was lots of rain all around us but we only got a little bit of rain at the center on
Friday afternoon after the playground was completed.
The construction of this playground was a great lesson about our daily walk as Christians. Each day God has a task for us to complete. He will provide the tools and people necessary to complete that task. We don’t have to worry about the outcome. We don’t even have to understand His ways. We just need to find out what he’s calling us to do and to do it with excellence.
It’s almost midnight as I begin to write this but my body thinks it’s only
10:00 pm. Earlier today we returned from an amazing week of missions in Managua,
Nicaragua. Last summer God gave me the opportunity to travel with several youth
and adults from our church to Managua. I fell in love with the people of
Nicaragua and this past week that love grew deeper and stronger. It was such a
huge blessing for me to be back in Nicaragua. I am just beginning to process
everything that I experienced this past week, so this is just the first of many
blogs, I’m sure!
This year I traveled with a smaller team of mainly adults to build a
playground on the Centro ABEM campus and to share the love of God with a
community of people just beyond the grounds of the center. And even though we
were serving different people and doing different projects this year, the
results were the same. God once again spoke to my heart clearly and used a week
in Nicaragua to show me His power and amazing love for His children.
From the moment I stepped off of the plane, I felt such joy and excitement to
be back. I felt like I was going home to visit family. God has put a love for
the people of Nicaragua in my heart and the connections I make are forever a
part of who I am. This year we were in the a community for 5 afternoons and were
able to make some wonderful connections. As I look at the faces in the many
photos that I took, I see their love and welcoming spirit. I can hear their
giggles and their singing. I can hear them saying “cuándo volverá” which means
“when will you be coming back?” or “Que Dios los bendiga” which means “May God
When someone who has so very little in the way of earthly possessions,
reaches out and takes your hand and says “May God Bless You”, it is a truly
humbling experience. When you ask an elderly woman who lives alone if there is
anything that she would like prayer for and she says “Please pray for my
community. There are physical needs but more importantly there are spiritual
needs. My community needs Christ”, you realize the selfishness of your own
prayers. When you see two little girls save some of their rice so they can take
it home to their mom and baby brother, God speaks to you and asks “Are you
selfless like that?” When you have church service in plastic chairs outside
under the trees, you realize that “the church” is not a building….it’s a body of
God has once again used the Nicaraguan people to change me and draw me closer
to Him. I continue to see the “things” of this life as worthless and desire to
do whatever brings glory to Him.