This blog was posted yesterday morning, but somehow it got deleted. Here it is again!
Blog by Erik Gustafson
Sometimes there are no words that can fully do justice to something we’ve experienced. Sure, a photo might give a thousand words, but some things are found uniquely in the present and stay there. I find that happening a lot here.
I also find myself taking multiple reality checks amidst the daily happenings. Through conflicts, financial supporters and many other challenges, being here reminds me of the smooth goodness of The Lord and His sovereignty over us. I am in awe of a Creator who delights in a sinner like me, and chooses to use us for His beautiful purposes.
Just last night, at least 15 Nicaraguan kids saw their desperate need for a savior and put their trust in Jesus. There are no words to be found. Only swelling eyes and reverence to an Almighty God. Never has Revelation 7:9 been more incredibly powerful to me when John writes “Behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne before the Lamb… crying out with a loud voice…” These kids are the nations. Hearing their beautiful voices singing their freedom for the first time was one of the most precious sounds I’ve ever heard. All glory to our Lord and Savior.
This morning we got up early (minus Daniel, sorry bro for not waking you up) to pray for camp, to give thanks, to pray for hearts to move, to be united as two nations under one God. I love the passion of the prayers of the Nicaraguan people. It calls me deeper into an appreciation for the diversity of God’s people.
After we prayed we went back to our kids and helped them pack. By now we’ve exhausted them enough to actually have to wake them up instead of the opposite, #blessed. We ate breakfast, did Bible study, and reflected. After that, we ate lunch and surprised the kids with a piñata. As I watched the final hit to the torso of the Buzz Lightyear-shaped piñata, it erupted with candy and I saw kids swarm the piñata with the utmost urgency. Reflecting, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the urgency of the Gospel. What if I ran for the Gospel as urgently as those kids? What if my eyes were so fixed on Jesus and His kingdom that I would stop at nothing to see it to fruition. Surely His presence is far more sweet than a piece of chocolate candy. I pray that each and every one of those kids knows that, and I pray that we will run with that urgency.
As this was the last day for the campers, the sweet taste quickly wore off and turned bitter for some as the bus was soon arriving. One of Jillian’s campers held her and embraced her in tears for probably more than an hour. What a great testament to how much camp has impacted these kids and how The Lord has graced us with fostered relationships despite language barriers. As they boarded the bus there were few dry eyes including the counselors. The love of Jesus knows no language. As the bus slowly drove away, I felt as though we were releasing them to be sheep amongst wolves. Who will care for them? Who will continue to show them the love of Jesus? These thoughts can be paralyzingly. But as we studied this week, “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
We will trust that. Our hope is not in this world but in our God. He will protect them. He will shepherd His flock. Praise the One who watches over His children. As we continue to pray for them, we will constantly be assured by His guidance, and invited into His peace that surpasses all understanding.
One day we will sing together again with our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters in the presence of our King. The sweet sound of newfound security in the blood of Jesus will be an everlasting praise to a Father who greatly loves His children.
Until that day, our mission is not over. Pray for our new group of campers to blossom in understanding and for more bonds to be made. In everything, Jesus is better. He is capable. He is strong. He is able.
Forever secure by His blood,
Erik “ATP” Gustafson