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January 6th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 11:2 (NLT)

2 Pride leads to disgrace,
      but with humility comes wisdom.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Most of you probably know that I just returned from a nine-day journey to Cochabamba, Bolivia.  Along with twenty-three others, I had the honor of lending a hand at the Bolivian Hope Center . . . a ministry that educates and feeds about five-hundred children a day.  In addition, this ministry also reaches into the women’s prison to feed and love a forsaken generation of children who live in prison with their mothers.  As a flickering flame quickly melts the wax of a candle, so were our hearts dissolved in this crucible of another culture . . . another world.

So many approach the idea of a missions trip simply with thoughts of culture shock.  They assume that the living conditions of others or the plight within which they exist are the most striking features of the journey.  In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.  The most indelible facet of the process is by far the people.  Dirt roads, subpar utilities, devalued currencies, and unstable governmental systems all fade into the background when one beholds the faces of the people.  But it doesn’t stop there!  Their preconceived notions about us also fade when they encounter us in the flesh.  It is truly remarkable when imagined and preexisting conclusions become null and void amidst the undeniable and unexpected proof that is people.  

The trips that I have taken over the years have left me with many memories of breathtaking geography, disturbing urban conditions, exotic wildlife, interesting culinary choices, unbearable sickness, exhaustion, and humorous anecdotes.  However, the things that have most changed me have always been those people that God chose to divinely intersect my path.  Pastors.  Missionaries.  Children.  Servants.  Not just faces in a magazine, but real people with real names, real families, real dreams, and a real experience with the same real God whom I am experiencing.

Raul is such a person.  My atrocious Spanish coupled with his nonexistent English didn’t produce any profound conversations.  But communicate we did . . . mainly from his direction to mine.  Raul is a single man in his mid-thirties who serves at the Bolivian Hope Center doing any and everything imaginable.  He is a picture of humility and service.  Much of the children’s facility has been built by his hands.  

For example, when the children’s home needed windows, Raul began thinking of ways to help.  So, he approached a window company and volunteered with them for months with no pay  until he had sufficiently learned the craft.  Now, the children’s home is furnished with beautiful windows because of his sacrifice.  That’s just the beginning of his heart.

As an eighteen-year-old, Raul was the first convert of the pastor of the church at the Bolivian Hope Center.  At this moment, Raul is pastoring a church plant a few miles down the road.  He’s a pastor who spends his time laboring, learning, and loving the children of Bolivia.  He doesn’t do it for money.  He doesn’t do it for glory.  He doesn’t even know that this information about him is being told.  No, he does it to answer the call that rings out within him.  He does it out of a heart of humility.

As this passage reveals, “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”  Raul is one incredible example of the wisdom that comes from humility.  Who knows what future leader may at this moment be a little child eating food at the BHC.  Presidents?  Pastors?  Solid fathers?  Godly mothers?  Every bead of sweat . . . every blister . . . every back ache that Raul experiences is laying the foundation for the future of Bolivia.  In humility and gentleness, Raul keeps on working . . . even if no one is watching.  

In this case, we are watching . . . and so is God.


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