Recently, I was running some errands and had invited my friend D. along. As we were talking, D. mentioned something that made me realize just how much takes place without words ever being spoken. D. told me that he had never really wanted to get married. He never saw the need for it and truthfully, had never even considered having a family and committing to one person for the rest of his life. That is until he began spending time with Amy and me and one of the other couples on our team. Here in this culture, men are trained to have as many women as possible, almost from the day they are born, and the results are heartbreaking. D. hadn’t been exposed to anything outside of this way of life. As have gotten to know him and spend time with him, he has seen that there is a different way to live. As he has grown in his walk with God, the things he wants out of life have begun to change and one of the key elements in this is that he finally has someone to walk this road with him…to model the Christian life for him. It’s having an impact.
This past Monday morning S. dropped by the house as we were eating breakfast. We invited him in to join us and the first thing he said with a huge smile on his face was how much he had enjoyed house church the night before. He said that it was awesome and that he had such a good time (this was after a hardcore message about the final judgment and heaven and hell – see Matt. 25). His face just lit up as he talked about the evening and the impact it had on him. Shortly after that, as we were talking, he paused for a moment and then told me, “Barrett, you’re like my dad. You feed me, you surf with me and you spend time with me.” He wasn’t telling me that I was similar to his dad. He was telling me that I take the place of his dad who left him and his mother several years ago and now lives on the Pacific. Over the past year, I have spent a lot of time with Sebas and he has grown immensely as a Christian. He is one of the older youth that is the most excited about sharing his faith with others. He sees it as a privilege. But this wasn’t true before he had someone to walk alongside him and encourage him.
If God blesses me enough here in Puerto Viejo to have a significant impact on a few then that’s what I want to do. In the end, they are the ones that will eventually reach their community and their culture with much more of an impact than we ever could. God is using us to get something started. To come alongside people and show them that there is a different way to live. A way created by a God that loves them and wants to change them in more ways than they could ever imagine.
I don’t say any of this to blow my own horn. I say it to encourage you. It’s hard to imagine the impact you can have on someone’s life just by living your life for Christ alongside them. Years ago it happened to me through a friend in Arizona named Paul Almquist. I had gotten away from the church and had a distant relationship with God. Amy and I had just started attending Calvary Chapel in Tucson. We met Paul and his wife through some friends. Paul was the guitarist for the worship team but he never acted like this made him special or put him on a higher spiritual plane. One day he invited me to go mountain-biking with him and it soon became a regular weekend event. Paul never preached at me, he did life with me. One of the only things he would do is ask if he could pray before we went riding each week. I hadn’t prayed regularly in years, so this . Spending time with Paul made being a Christian real for me. He showed me what it was like to live in the world but not be of the world...life as a Christian outside of the Christian bubble. That made an impact on me. Paul, you are one of the main reasons that we are doing what we’re doing. God used you in my life and in many ways He is continuing to use you to reach this community here in Puerto Viejo. There have been other Paul’s in my life… my dad, my friends Norm Jaeger and Todd Harper. It’s because of friends like these that D. and S. are following Jesus.