by Billy Byler
Thunder cracked, lightning flashed and somehow the world around us grew even darker. Very few of my muscles were working properly after a first day of backbreaking labor, but my ears worked well enough to be alerted at some point around midnight when the air conditioner made a weird beeping sound then shut off completely. Lying on my back in on the top bunk of a “motel” somewhere in the jungles of western Nicaragua, I put my hand up to the small indention of my throat where my neck met my chest. That indention was filled with my own sweat. That’s when I new it was going to be a long night.
The heat had been overwhelming that first day on our work-and-witness trip, when we took shovels to the rocky soil of a two-acre piece of land cleared of trees in the Nicaraguan jungle. The plan was to build a church – or at least start the construction of one – for a remote village community of about three-dozen people that had previously been meeting under a tree. We dug footers, moving some soil but mostly rocks around and by the end of the afternoon our team of about 15 was physically spent.
That night the motel room I shared with Andrew Loucks, Jacob Loon and Dustin Warren was supposed to be the place where we rested up for another day of work. The “shower” shot lukewarm water out at an impressive rate of several drops per minute and our “air-conditioned” room enjoyed the consistent humidity level previously only attained if, say, a laundromat in southern Florida celebrated “Wear Multiple Layers of Wool” day by installing a in-ground swamp in its lobby in August.
So it was hot.
And as we emerged from the hotel room after midnight and stood on a balcony that overlooked a jungle of howling monkeys and a dirt road that led to the Pacific Ocean a mile to our west, we prayed for a breeze and watched lightning dance over the horizon. There was no rest that night.
But as a group we had talked about our “comforts,” the things we had grown accustomed to at home but may not have access to during our weeklong trip to Nicaragua. We acknowledged that by coming on this trip we were willing to give up our “comforts” (wifi, air conditioning, familiar food, a lack of howling monkeys) in order that a community of believers could have a church building to better reach the villages around them. As we encountered life without our comforts, we experienced assurance and strength from scripture.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” -2 Corinthians 1:3-5
The trip improved beyond that difficult first night. Power was restored and the air conditioning came back on. We got better (and smarter) at building that church, and more than 100 people came from the surrounding village for a dedication ceremony at the end of the week.
For a week, we managed to go without the comforts of home. But the impact of that trip was felt not only by a village that now had a worship space of their own but also by a team from Wichita First Church of the Nazarene that had been blessed and changed by the entire experience. With our comforts aside, we participated in God’s work and, in the end, benefited from the hospitality and graciousness of the villagers who worked alongside us and showed such appreciation and gratitude.
These trips are only possible through the pledges and donations given during Faith Promise. Just as our work-and-witness teams give up “comforts” on these trips, others may surrender some “comforts” by sacrificially giving during this annual campaign to raise funds for missions. Thank you for your consideration and generosity. Lives are changed on these trips – both by the people we meet and minister to as well as the work-and-witness team members, who are given a fresh perspective on God’s global church and the mission field abroad.
So as we endeavor to surrender our comforts when God calls us to do so, may we also find comfort – not in the return of material things – but in the promise of true comfort from our Lord.
“And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our suffering, so also you share in our comfort.” -2 Corinthians 1:7