Hello! My name is Matthew Garcia and I am a senior at Calvin Christian High School. I have sincerely enjoyed my past three years as a student here at Calvin. God has grown my faith in countless ways as I have been taught to approach the world, learning, and my everyday life with a biblical perspective. I have been so blessed to be able to attend Calvin where I have had the freedom and privilege to incorporate my faith into all aspects of life. This freedom has helped my faith grow and molded me into who I am today.
One way that God has grown my faith was in a recent mission trip to the country of Zambia, which is in Southern Africa. In August, I had the amazing privilege and honor of going to an orphan village in Zambia known as Breath of Heaven. Along with my brother and three others from my church, we visited and served this orphan village for 2 weeks. The man who runs this orphan village has rescued 61 kids so far from the hopeless and terrible lives they once lived. Lives filled with loss of family, poverty, hunger and awful living conditions. These kids who we visited came from unimaginable backgrounds. But now, they not only live with a roof over their head and three meals a day, but also with the overflowing joy of the Gospel in their hearts. I got to see firsthand how these kids have been affected by discipleship in the Gospel. These kids are 16 years old and under and are the most happy and joyful children I have ever met in my life. Being in their presence, the evidence of Christ in their hearts was so apparent and clear that I didn’t get one hint of a painful past in their personality. The light Christ has placed in their hearts and minds is so radiant in their personality that they overflow in joy over what God has done on their behalf. 1 Peter 1:6 reminds me so much of who they are: it says
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory..”
This passage is quite extensive, but it beautifully captures the lives of these Zambian orphans. They have all been through various, difficult trials: loss of loved ones, poverty, hunger. But what is so special about these trials is that they have been used by God to bring them to faith in Him as their Father and Redeemer. Their faith, in comparison to their poverty stricken society’s pursuit of wealth and prosperity, is so much more valuable than money ever could be. They love a God they have never physically seen and they truly believe in Him. This is the root of the joy they have that is “inexpressible and full of glory.” I was so impacted by these orphans in this way while I spent two weeks with them. I find it ironic how I can go somewhere to try and make a difference in other people’s lives and in the end, God uses those people to make a difference in my own life. God is good.
In spending time with these little brothers and sisters of mine, God showed me what complete and full worship of Him looks like. The Zambians devotion to God was so passionate and pure in worship because they didn’t let anything come between them and their Heavenly Father. Nothing distracted them from keeping their hearts and minds focused on their Savior. They cried out and pleaded with God earnestly to give them courage and strength to share the Gospel with those around them. In their physical need, they don’t ask for wealth or monetary provision but instead ask for the Holy Spirit to give them what they need to share the Gospel with those around them who don’t believe. Honestly, I was in shock at this. They completely devoted all of who they were for the cause of the Gospel.
I was also convicted in my own walk with God. Observing these Zambians as they worshipped and followed the same God I do revealed the sin I had in my heart and the false notions I had of “worship of God.” In my selfishness and my pride, I was worshipping my desires and myself more than I was worshipping God. I was encouraged by these fellow believers who lived on the other side of the world to try and live in complete worship of my Father. In seeing how I had placed my pride, my fear of man, and my selfishness above my devotion to God, I was sickened. In light of this new perspective I received from this trip, God has placed within me the desire to live differently, to step out in faith whenever possible to live my life in His strength and not in my own ability.
God has grown my faith in many ways from this recent trip to Zambia. I’m excited to take what God has shown me, and in His strength, strive to walk it out in my everyday life. As a senior at Calvin, I am stoked to be an example to the kids around me by living out my faith in a way that reflects Christ’s work in my heart. Through this everyday task, I hope and pray God will use me to impact those around me so they too may also be encouraged to live their lives for His glory alone.