"Several teenagers gave up a weekend to step out of their comfort zones and serve. That alone should bring hope this holiday season."
The weekend was a huge undertaking. More than 1,500 people came for health care and supplies. Many families literally walked for miles to receive the benefits and donations.
by Denise Neff
The holiday season ushers in expectations of giving, receiving, celebrating and over-eating. It’s a time to be with family, reflect on the year, plan for the year to come and hopefully, somewhere in there, praise God for sending us His Son. Just prior to Christ’s ascension He commissioned His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) A group of Cornerstone members did just that the weekend of November 2-4. Our church has been a partner with Pastor Guillermo’s church in Tijuana for many years. The mission trips, which take place in April and November, focus on the practical needs of an impoverished community, while bringing the hope of the gospel.
Every trip has different goals, whether it is a building project, a medical outreach or repair to the local church. Saturday evenings conclude with a community dinner, where 750+ hot dogs are served, clowns entertain the children, and the gospel is preached. Those who act as the hands and feet of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, soften the hearts of the community and many come to accept Christ.
This November was no exception. The focus was a free health fair for the community. Lauren Williams, a Cornerstone member and Emergency Room R.N., said the weekend focused on education. Lauren, along with more than 20 nursing students from neighboring communities, did general well-checks and educated the community on personal health care. One aspect of basic health care needs was met in the form of eyeglasses. Nilda Corwin, who has served on this trip several times, was asked to help pass out the donated prescription glasses. Even though she does not have a background in optometry, she said, “The Lord showed us how to figure it out.” Yes He did. To properly diagnose the lens strength needed for each individual, Nilda had each person read Christian tracts until the best possible sight was achieved.
The weekend was a huge undertaking. More than 1,500 people came for health care and supplies. Many families literally walked for miles to receive the benefits and donations. The community at large was organized in a cohesive way to effectively serve those in need. The preparation and set up was just as critical as the medical attention and donated supplies. “What I do doesn’t seem to be the biggest thing that gets done, but I’m glad to be a part of it,” said Cornerstone member Max Kellick, 23. “One thing that continues to amaze me is how vast the mission is in Tijuana, how widespread it is. The mission work continues through other churches that Cornerstone partners with.”
Max was not the youngest in attendance. Several teenagers gave up a weekend to step out of their comfort zones and serve. That alone should bring hope this holiday season. One frequent misconception of mission work is that it needs to be grand if it is to be impactful. “Just looking someone in the eye and smiling, while serving them food, can change their day.” said Grace Neff, 13. This was Grace’s second mission trip to Tijuana. Her previous experience allowed her to feel more emboldened this time around. She read scripture to some of the children and prayed out loud over them. “It was the first time I was ever so bold and I think it made a big impact.”
Other teenagers came and also helped organize the large quantities of donations, serve food, entertain the kids and be open to God using them. Ari Schmidt, 13, is already looking forward to going back and serving. “I felt very safe, it wasn’t scary or uncomfortable and I would definitely go again and serve wherever the help is needed.” she said. When asked how she would sum up her weekend she replied, “Humbling.” What better Christ-like quality for the next generation to emulate?
As believers, we are all given the same great commission, no matter our age. Dennis Carreon, Navy trained dental technician with 50 years’ experience, has a long background in mission outreach. “You get so much more out of it then you put in, I just don’t know how to define it,” he explained. “I go there so God can give me a whack up along-side the head.” he said with a laugh.
A spiritual whack along-side the head. Maybe that is what we need this holiday season. In a country of such abundance, where most of us are blessed with what others can only imagine, the greatest gift we can receive is eternity through faith in Jesus Christ. The greatest gift we can give is the gospel, to our families, neighbors, community and beyond. Christ humbled Himself when He came into the world as the ultimate servant, withholding nothing while offering everything. One step in our gratitude and obedience to Christ is to live out the great commission, just the same as those who served in Tijuana.
UPDATE: A group of people from Chiapas, Mexico had traveled to Tijuana looking for work. When they came to the outreach they received Christ as Savior. They told the Pastor that they were returning to their home village, in Chiapas, but there was not a Christian church there. So, one of the local pastors, from Tijuana, is going back with them to establish a new church. God has plans far beyond what we can envision!
In a country of such abundance, where most of us are blessed with what others can only imagine... the greatest gift we can give is the gospel, to our families, neighbors, community and beyond."