One of the best parts of my mission trips to Bolivia was experiencing church the way the locals do. I remember trying to understand the sermon in Spanish, but technically only catching every third word and being a little frustrated at first. Once I stopped trying to translate and just listened for God, I was able to comprehend what Pastor Dilmar was preaching.
And if the sermon reminded me that we’re all in the same boat, from Bolivia to NYC, worshipping God together brought me to my knees in awe. We were singing different words to the same song, but all to the same wonderful person. Since that first trip, it’s always been important to me to attend church when traveling if I possibly can. Now that I’m traveling around the world, I’ll be writing about the various churches I visit. Whether you’re a Christian or not, I hope you enjoy!
After my turn as Lost Girl of the Week back in December, I got an email from a Kiwi and past LGOTW, Miss Carmi Louw. She had shown the three original Lost Girls around a few years ago during their trip to Auckland, and after reading about my trip and subsequent desire to meet God and his children all over the world, she invited me to attend her church during my visit. (P.s. How great is the Internet?! This trip would be a different animal entirely if there were no Facebook, Twitter or blogs to connect me to the wonderful people I’ve been meeting along the way.)
Carmi and I met up a bit before the service to chat and get to know each other. She’s a world traveling, mission-hearted gal just like me, so I have no doubt we’d be BFFs if we ever had more than an hour in the same room. Her church, Elim Christian Centre, was only about a 10-minute stroll from my hotel in the center of Auckland, so yet again, I was blessed with a near-unbelievable amount of convenience.
It was refreshing to hear a sermon in English again, even though it really hadn’t been that long since I had. The pastor spoke about how sometimes you have to let go of dreams and desires in order for new opportunities to blossom, and how though death is often painful, in both the natural and spiritual worlds it can be required for something new to develop. The pastor said he had to let go of a dream that he had been holding on to for his whole life in order to experience the fulfillment God had in store for him on the other side of that dream. Another example that is quite familiar to Christians – God sent his son Jesus to die so that we might have a new, abundant life and the opportunity to be reborn. (No idea what I’m talking about? Click here.)
I thought of so many examples of how this is true in my own life, from the real deaths of loved ones to quitting a job or breaking up with a boyfriend. We have to be open to change in order to experience God’s plan for us, even if it doesn’t fit into our own plan that we have conjured. For what it’s worth, I’ve probably heard this lesson a dozen times in the past few years, but the light bulb in my head always goes on as if it’s the first time. Even a couple of weeks later, I am still mulling over the message. Definitely what I needed to hear to spur some changes! Have you ever had to experience death (metaphorically or for real) to find new life?
Thanks for the invite & the fellowship, Carmi. Hope to see you again sometime on the road!