Every time our church pastor asked me to come on a mission trip, I found a reason to turn him down. Sometimes I couldn’t get off work. Sometimes I was just too busy with “other stuff”, but to his credit, he never stopped trying. For five straight years he asked me to go on a mission trip with him, but on that fifth try, I had a legitimate excuse. My wife was already planning on going, so I had to stay home with our child. A few months before the trip though, a friend approached me after church and asked if we could talk.
He told me he had a dream that I was in Colombia with them on the trip. I didn’t think it meant anything, but he was convinced it did. He said for some reason he felt like I needed to go on the trip and asked me to pray about it, so I did.
I’m not usually one to be afraid, but I was about this. I’m not super strong in scripture, and I had never shared the gospel with someone, but after lots of prayer, I decided my friend was right, I needed to go on this trip.
I spent the next few months going through all of the pre-trip training. I learned simple tools to help me share my testimony and the message of the gospel, and I developed strong prayer habits. I thought I was just going to Colombia to “help out” though. I figured the training was just something everyone had to go through regardless of our role on the trip. I didn’t think I was going to be doing any evangelism myself, but I was wrong.
On our first day in Colombia, I found out that with the help of a translator, I was going to be talking with strangers and seeking opportunities to share the gospel with them. I was petrified, and it must’ve been plastered on my face, because before I could even fully wrap my head around it, my pastor approached me and began praying over me.
I stood there with my eyes closed, listening to him asking God to help me, to calm me, and to give me courage, and when the word, “amen,” was said, my fear was gone.
I remember having a kind of “out of body” experience with the first person I talked to that day. I shared my testimony, I shared the gospel, and I prayed over this Colombian man, but I didn’t know how the words were coming out of my mouth. They just kind of flowed out of me. I thought to myself, “how am I saying these things?” as I was speaking them, and as I watched the man walk away, I realized that it was the Holy Spirit!
I was thrilled. It made me hungry to share the gospel with more people. I had this new-found confidence and this new sense of purpose. God had saved my life and now I wanted to point others to him so He can save them too.
I shared the gospel with several people that day, and the next day, and the next day. God was working through me and it felt incredible. I used to avoid talking to strangers at all costs, but now I was seeking them out. I used to fear not knowing what to say or someone rejecting my attempt to start a conversation, but that fear was gone now. God had removed it, and that’s how I wound up meeting Diego* the taxi driver.
He was sitting in his taxi, just waiting for someone to request his services, and I was sitting on a curb nearby with my friend Jay*. I felt compelled to go talk to him, and Jay encouraged me to do so, so I stood up and made my way over to his taxi. What happened next would change both of our lives forever…