Partner Story: Obedience When the Need is Overwhelming

November 3, 2021

Our world is broken. We don’t need to search very long to compile the condemning evidence either. Indeed, the last year alone has thrown the brokenness of our world into stark light. But even in non-crisis situations, there are still a multitude of problems with our world. Trying to address all of these issues can feel overwhelming. We know that God calls us to spread the gospel, to care for the vulnerable, to seek justice, and to be a good neighbor, but where do we focus our energy when there are so many needs? In these situations, it's easy to admit defeat and simply do nothing. But we're called to something more than passive resignation.

In episode 31 of Simply 127, 127 partner David Lara speaks about how he became involved with caring for the vulnerable in his home country of Guatemala. From his story, we can learn a valuable lesson about obedience in the face of overwhelming need.

When David was 21 years old, he spent some time in Ethiopia as part of a ministry team. While there, he was exposed to a great number of needs. He was overwhelmed. He wanted to help everybody but knew that he couldn’t. He felt weak and useless. David remembers crying out to God at that time and hearing God tell him, “Only give me your heart and I will do the rest.”

So David returned to Guatemala and began to take small steps of obedience to share the gospel and care for the vulnerable in his own context, trusting that God would work through him. He got involved with the youth ministry at his church, discipling younger believers. He travelled with his dad, a doctor, to rural areas to disperse medicine that would otherwise be inaccessible. He went to college to study architecture, with hopes of using this skill to glorify God. Then, he stepped up to fill an empty pastoral post at his church after his father, the previous pastor, moved to Spain as a missionary.

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Several years into pastoring, David and his church began praying for ways to serve vulnerable people in their area. At this time, they learned of the San Vicente community, which was only a short ride from their church. The Q'anjob'al people lived in San Vicente, where they had been relocated by the government during the Guatemalan Civil War. In San Vicente, the Q'anjob'al had scarce access to electricity, transportation, and education. So David and his church began to serve this community in a variety of ways. Their goals were to share the gospel, disciple new believers, empower and educate community members, and provide for immediate, physical needs.

But after several years of ministry, David’s church was running out of funds and resources for serving San Vicente. So again they prayed. Around this time, Sara Beth Fentress contacted David about partnering with 127 Worldwide. As their partnership developed, God provided teams and funds to support the ministry in San Vicente.

Through David’s story, we see how God can use everyday acts of obedience in great ways. David didn’t do anything miraculous, but he did step up to fill the needs right in front of him. He served in youth group, assisted his dad in medical ministry, worked hard in college, filled a vacant leadership position, and, most importantly, prayed for the needs he saw around him. God transformed these small, unglamorous steps into a vibrant ministry that has served many people and begun to transform and empower a vulnerable community for the better. Through this ministry, members of San Vicente have come to know Christ, gained scholarships for higher education, received COVID-19 relief, and found hope in difficult circumstances.

In light of David’s example, we should ask ourselves: What is the immediate need in front of me? How can I serve God by taking small steps of obedience, trusting him to work through me?