"I cannot add a breath to my own life. I’m utterly incapable of sustaining myself. What I know is this: As a follower of Christ, I have been spared and been given a great mercy. So, in an act that sometimes feels like the death of me, I must believe in His goodness, and that what He's saved me for is so much greater than what He's saved me from."
- An excerpt from a devotional on women of the Bible.
This particular lesson was on Lot's wife. How interesting that we don't even know her name. A mystery woman that is used as an example of taking mercy for granted. She'd been spared. Her family was safe. Yet, that want enough.
Don't look back to what God's saved you from with longing or wonder but look ahead to what He's saved you for with anticipation and desire.
Comments on comprehending Christ:
When we allow Christ to dwell in us we will be able to comprehend the magnitude of His Love for us.
You will finally understand the wonder of it all, know the "power that worketh in us", and realize the abundance of His blessings.
Pursue in knowing HIM, not just His story.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
- Ephesians 3:17-21
After arriving back from Mexico past midnight, my nerves were on edge just thinking about what was to take place in a few hours and the words, as well as performance, that was my responsibility to give to the girls in attendance of the Princess Conference.
My lesson was all typed and printed out but I hadn't had much of a chance to go over it a few times. Joanna had asked me to speak on the character of the heart, which immediately brought to mind the lessons on the heart that I have been teaching my Children's Church class since that position was given to me in November.
Commended Character was the title and the following was the summary: "An examination of the 'heart' of the character that is displayed through the actions and reactions of daily living. Does your character proclaim a beauty that is rooted deep within?"
The Lord had laid this message heavily on my heart but I felt unprepared to give it until the previous night while in service in Rio Bravo, Mexico (further detailed in previous blog).
As an extremely independent woman, I've had to learn a hard lesson on trusting and depending on others when ministering away from home. The hardest part was not having a vehicle and being able to leave whenever and wherever I want/need. Nevertheless, I was extremely grateful for those who drove me to the places I needed to go.
The morning of the conference I hitched a ride with my aunt who was taking her daughter to join in on the event. I had agreed to try my best to be at the church in Pharr (I was staying in Weslaco) at 8:30 to help with registration but when I finally got a ride it was past 8:30! The Conference was scheduled to begin at 9 am but once we swung by my aunt's house to pick up another group of girls that were going to follow us to Pharr. By the time we got to Pharr it was past 9 and we realized before we got off the expressway that we had lost the girls behind us! Need I mention that one of my pet peeves is being tardy! :O I knew it was out of our control but when we finally found the girls and arrived to the church at 9:20, I was nearly a nervous wreck, especially since my lesson was the first one after the opening message. Once we got there and got started, everything was fine.
Joanna opened up with the testimony of her vision that started Princess Conference, then followed along with some fun icebreakers and unique giveaways for the girls.
Too soon it seemed that I was called on to speak. All jitters disappeared as I laid my notes out and opened my Bible. I felt the assurance of the Holy Spirit as confidence in His Word filled me. It was for that moment that I had spent the past few weeks fasting and praying for. My prayer was for that the lesson would especially make a difference in the hearts of family that had attended (for that was the reason I decided to fly down for the event), as well as challenge any young woman that was seeking for answers.
I used 2 different illustrations: a hand-held mirror and a Christmas ornament to emphasize my points on the condition of the heart, the outpouring of the heart, and the priceless value of the heart.
A few weeks prior, in the midst of my Bible reading, 1 Peter 3:4 jumped out at me.
"The character of your heart is the ornament or adornment of your spirit. God sees it and soon, so will everyone else around you..."
... was the message that I found in the midst of that verse. By looking out into the audience I knew that my prayers were being answered. God was reaching their longing hearts through the words He had given me for this particular lesson. How humbled am I to know that He would use such a seemingly insignificant one as me?!
After my session, it was Sis. Debbie Sparkman's turn to speak, then we all headed to the fellowship behind the building, which was beautifully decorated. Since our church was just asked to host one on March 1, I was getting ideas as to how we would decorate or prepare for ours.
Lunch was awesome! They ordered tamales from a local restaurant and had rice and charro beans to top it off! Mmmmm... The food and fellowship gave it a relaxed and fun setting. I got to sit with my cousin, Sarai, and her 2 nieces, whom I'd never met before. It was a great time of catching up.
We played a few fun games then headed back to the church for one last session and the drama we had been practicing. Sis. Carol Allender spoke on "Preparing to be a Wife" and it was a privilege to hear her many stories of life as a missionary to Mexico and many other regions.
We finally put on the drama Jalisa, Julie, and myself had been anxious about and it went pretty good with just a few slip ups. The day went really fast but it was such a wonderful experience!
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and privilege to participate in such an event and SO excited that our church is hosting one in just a few weeks!
It was also a good opportunity to get away from the cold for a little bit. I left my coat with my mom at the airport in South Bend, then kind of wished that I still had it when I stepped off the plane in Minneapolis with my flip flops and a thin plaid shirt on! The layover was only an hour but it was cold on the flight to South Bend. :/
Made it home late Monday night and arrived in time to witness another crazy snow storm and arctic temperatures! Grateful for a warm house, working car, and food in abundance. God is good and faithful!
I arrived in Harlingen at 2:30 p.m. On Thursday night. My uncle, Rolando, picked me up and they were gracious enough to keep me at their house for the weekend.
That night the Martin girls came to pick me up for practice of a drama we were going to put on on Saturday for the princess conference. It was so good to see Joanna, Julie, and Jalisa! By the time they brought me back to the house I was exhausted from having only 3 hours of sleep the night before and being a nervous wreck over flying by myself. The flight went great and I really had nothing to worry about but I guess I couldn't help it.
The next day I went to my grandma's house to see her and also to help out with a fundraiser the church was doing there during the morning. They made chicken plates, which also contained brisket, potato salad, rice, and charro beans. They are pros at it and we're done in no time. It was amazing to see.
While I was there my uncle, Cesar, asked me to go with him to a service in Rio Bravo at 6:30 p.m. I had practice with the Martin girls at 3:30 and was hoping to be out in time.
We finished around 5 and I was able to make it to my grandma's house, who lives next door to my uncle who is taking me to Mexico. I had only a few minutes to freshen up and jot a few notes down. I was kind of unsure of what I was supposed to do that night. At first it sounded like I was supposed to preach! :0 But when the time came I was just to share my testimony and experiences to the youth after the main service was over.
The service was very different than what we are used to but it was very powerful. There was a visiting preacher that preached the message, of which I understood about 3/4, then the congregation gathered for a moving altar service. In the beginning, I was praying for several of the ladies then desired to receive something for myself. I was still unprepared for the message I was to give that night and at the Princess Conference. Sure, I had my notes together but I know an anointing is necessary to deliver a message that impacts. I didn't want my words to only hit their ears but to also pierce their hearts. During that same altar call I felt the hand of God reached down and refresh my spirit. It was exactly what I needed for that night and the Conference.
After the service was over, the pastor called for all the young people to gather towards the front of the left section of the church. It was then that he passed the mic to me. The word that was laid on my heart when I was first asked to speak was "surrender". Remembering the time when I was their age, I knew that there is a powerful pull to keep young people from doing the work of God. It's so easy to get distracted by material things or relationships. I shared my mission experiences and what I learned during my 5 month sickness upon arriving from one of my mission trips. It was during that night that I understood a whole new level of surrender. Psalm 18:1 became so real to me in a way that will last the rest of my life. It was then that I decided that my strength wasn't enough, but to depend on God's. The message was only for about 15-20 minutes but it held their attention intently.
Evangelist Roberto Morales was my interpreter and gave them a mini sermon after I was finished with my part. It was pretty powerful as well. The pastor spoke a few words then closed the meeting by having me pray over the youth. The presence of the Lord was felt so powerfully.
As everyone was leaving, a girl came up to talk to me and as soon as she began talking about her own desire for missions she began to cry. With tears streaming down her face, she spoke of her dream to minister in Africa, thinking that it was an impossibility until I shared my own experiences in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. We are the exact same age, 23, and I could see the intensity of her love for the Lord. I encouraged her to continue doing what she can right where she is and God will do mighty things. In only a matter of minutes it felt as though I had met a 'kindred spirit'.
As soon as she hugged me and left another girl approached me, saying how that many people had quieted her spoken desires to do mission work as well because she was a woman. We exchanged testimonies and contact info and I left Rio Bravo encouraged that these opportunities to challenge young people can make a difference.
The pastor's daughter, Gabi, (in picture below) kept me company while we ate and the men talked after the service.
It was nearly midnight when I arrived at my uncle's house and had only a few hours of sleep before I it was time to get up to pray, study for my lesson, and continue to go over lines for the drama. The anticipated day of the Princess Conference was now here!
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. "
- Philippians 1:6
Take special notice how this verse informs us that this good work will be performed till the day of Jesus Christ... not the end of your life.
Does that bring you comfort?
To know that the work you are allowing Christ to do in you will continue to be performed on this earth and impact lives? That work will NEVER end.
To know that the sacrifices you make, the hardships you face, and the valleys you cross all contain works of wonder that will be performed until Christ's return.
Read on down to the next chapter:"For it is God which worketh in you..." (2:12)
Then it gets even better:
"Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain. " (2:16)
Not only does God assure is that what we do now matters, but also that it will matter for all eternity.
Your sacrifices matter,
your tears matter,
your heartaches matter,
your life matters.
When God is on your side and when pleasing God is your aim, the work being performed in you this very instant could very well continue to mark the pages of history for centuries to come, if the Lord tarries.
Don't ever let the thought that you are useless invade your mind again!
God's work in you is precious. He wants you to know that your value will NEVER end.
Sonia E. Vargas
Sonia's desire and hope is to write for the purpose of inspiring this generation, especially young woman.
Hannah Helm is a fun and outgoing young woman who loves to bring laughter and joy to anyone she comes in contact with. She is 24 years old and is a leader of Girl's Exalting the Master Ministry.
Paula is a passionate follower of Christ and loves to encourage others around her to do the same. She is 27 years old and is currently attending Free Gospel Bible Institute. She was a part of the Guatemala GEM team in 2014.
Kristyn is a sweet and gentle young lady from Trinity Holiness Tabernacle. She is 19 years old and is currently attending Free Gospel Bible Institute. She plays the piano and sings beautifully. She was a part of the Guatemala GEM team in 2014 and Honduras team in 2016.