For most people, the Atacama Desert is known only as the most arid region on the planet. Growing up in rural Ontario, it was once about as foreign a place as I could imagine. I first traveled to Chile with a work team in March 2016 and returned the following January to serve at a summer camp in the south. When I heard of GMSA’s ministry in Alto Hospicio, a community in the Atacama near Chile’s northern border, I almost immediately dismissed the possibility of ever being involved. I was serving my three-month term in the beautiful, green south and returning to Canada. No deserts. Towards the end of March, however, I learned that Sharon Bisbee was still unable to find someone to serve in Alto Hospicio in her place during her six-month furlough to the States. God had been at work in my heart, and after a whirlwind trip north and a divine convergence of circumstances, I knew that He was leading me to move to Alto Hospicio in May 2017.
For the past six months, I have had the privilege of serving alongside a Chilean pastor and his family in a church plant in one of the poorest communities in Chile. The land on which the church building sits is situated between two large government housing developments, both of which are filled with children. On some Sunday mornings, over half of the congregation is under the age of sixteen. There is a Bible Club ministry every Friday, week-long programs during the winter and summer vacations, and special events as often as possible. In addition to serving with the children, I was also a part of the music ministry and the young adults group. In July, I had the unique opportunity to travel with a Chilean friend on a ministry trip to the Chiloé Islands. The cold, rainy weather in the south was a marked change from the Atacama, but the seascapes were incredible. Along with a group from Santiago, we visited in homes, sharing the gospel, and prepared a one-day event for the children on the island of Lin Lin.
There were certainly days when I wondered how on earth I ended up in a desert nearly 7500 kilometres from home. When I first arrived, my Spanish was basic, and I often found it frustrating to have even normal conversations, let alone the spiritually meaningful ones that I had hoped for. I had often prayed that God would use my abilities for His glory, but I also learned to pray that He would use my inabilities as well, and not just the linguistic ones. I thank God that the work of His Spirit is not constrained by my Spanish fluency or my ministry experience, and I praise Him for all that He accomplished both in me and through me over the past six months.
Although I am back in Canada for now, I trust that I will one day return to serve in Latin America. In His perfect timing, our sovereign God will reveal when and where and how.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work”. (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV)