The apostle Paul, undoubtedly the most effective and well-known missionary, encouraged his fellow believers in Philippi to continue to become more Christ-like, to push through times of weariness and maintain an eternal perspective during their time on earth. “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
Cornerstone has been a committed and mission-minded church since its inception. Groups of volunteers from Cornerstone have partnered for several years with Pastor Guillermo’s church to serve the community of Tijuana. These short missionary trips take place twice a year and are an opportunity to forget the worries here at home and focus on what is truly important, the eternity of our fellow man. Although these weekends are centered on the practical needs of the community, the heart of the trip is on the souls of those who are served.
This November’s trip was planned to meet the medical needs of the community. Volunteers from Cornerstone stayed at Pastor Guillermo’s church for the duration of the weekend. When they arrived at the location of the medical clinic on Saturday, November 2nd, the long line signified the need of the community they came to serve. “It brought a tear to my eye when we pulled up early that morning to see all the people already waiting,” said David Neff.
A dental clinic was set up by Dr. Art Laos, along with dental hygienist Heather Lizotte. Together they extracted teeth and provided treatment, as other volunteers taught the basics of oral care to those who waited their turn. “We basically had our noses in people’s mouths for 6 hours,” said Heather. “We saw everyone we could in that amount of time, about two to three times the number of patients I would see in a typical day.” Although Heather had not crossed the border in a very long time, she said, “There was never a time that I felt unsafe. Just saddened by the poverty.”
It was not just dental needs being met. There was a local medical professional seeing members of the community. Large numbers of glasses were donated and people were being properly fitted with the correct prescription. A salon was set up offering haircuts and manicures. Large amounts of clothing and food were also distributed. “It was a short but very impactful weekend,” said Debbie Salling. “I had not done a mission trip before and it was a very good first experience.” Both Debbie and Heather said they would definitely serve on this mission trip again.
As always, Saturday evening concluded with a free BBQ, a time of worship and sharing the gospel. Caleb Neff, 16 and Luke Neff, 11, both believed the most impactful part of the weekend was providing the meal and the donated food. “You could just tell that some of the people who came had not eaten in quite a while,” said Caleb. Luke also agreed with that, saying, “I think it made a difference helping people with something they needed right then, good free food.”
After Jesus’ resurrection, He asked Peter three times, “Do you truly love me?” Peter had denied Christ three times, and here, he was given three opportunities to reinstate himself. Jesus responded to him with the commands in the 21st chapter of John, “Feed my lambs, take care of my sheep, feed my sheep.” There is a physical hunger that our world can satiate. But the eternal hunger is a void only Christ can fill. It was this command Jesus gave Peter and that which the apostle Paul encourages us to not grow tired of doing.
This is the hunger Cornerstone seeks to satisfy, whether it is here in Long Beach, down south in Tijuana, or across the globe. It is not only for our own sake to press on to the eternal goal, it is for all of mankind. As weary as we may be at the end of another year, it is not enough to reflect on the days that have passed. We need to pray for those we hope to impact and serve them with the love of Peter and the commitment of Paul. This may be extracting a tooth, checking blood pressure, or offering a meal. We will not always know the impact we have. But we can hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that what we do for a man’s body, in the name of Jesus Christ, could have eternal impact on his soul.
"These short missionary trips take place twice a year and are an opportunity to forget the worries here at home and focus on what is truly important, the eternity of our fellow man."
"There is a physical hunger that our world can satiate. But the eternal hunger is a void only Christ can fill. It was this command Jesus gave Peter and that which the apostle Paul encourages us to not grow tired of doing."
"As weary as we may be at the end of another year, it is not enough to reflect on the days that have passed. We need to pray for those we hope to impact and serve them with the love of Peter and the commitment of Paul."