“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
When I traveled to Ahuachapan, El Salvador in 2014 with a wonderful team of Christian servants from NCCUMC’s Fairway District, my main goal was to learn Spanish through immersion at a local language school. It was a wonderful and exciting experience. I wanted to learn Spanish in order to be able to communicate with my neighbors who spoke Spanish and to do bilingual ministry in the community I lived in at the time.
One of the ways that I practiced Spanish and spiritual discipline during the trip was to say the Lord’s Prayer daily in Spanish. One of the amazing things about learning a new language is being attentive to words and their meaning in a way that you may not be in your first language. Praying this prayer in Spanish helped me to be more spiritually awake and connected to God during the trip. Though I attended the trip to learn Spanish, it was a great blessed to see the outpouring of God’s love in the group’s work and the people of El Salvador. The people at the hotel we stayed at were wonderfully hospitable, we shared wonderful food together, and the people of Ahuachapan were so friendly and helpful, especially those who supported me and kept me company as I continued my language immersion after the rest of the group had left the country. Most of all, God’s grace and the movement of the Holy Spirit was evident in the way the Church was growing in El Salvador.
The group went to help construct a church with a local congregation. In the midst of church decline in the United States and conflict in the global United Methodist Church, it was exciting and inspiring to see the Salvadoran Methodist Church grow, thrive, and respond with powerful ministry to serve the most vulnerable children and families in the midst of gang violence. This experience gave me hope that at the end of the day, despite conflict and decline, all we really have to do is be faithful to God and to the mission we have been given: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
May we all be newly inspired to simple faith, joyful obedience, and sharing the good news however we can.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
The guarantee of our prayer
is not in saying a lot of words.
The guarantee of our petition is very easy to know:
how do I treat the poor?
Because that is where you are, Lord.
The degree to which we approach them,
and the love with which we approach them,
of the scorn with we approach them–
that is how we approach you.
What we do to them, we do you.
To see them, is to see you.
May we look upon your face
with love and joy. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To educate this week:
Send letters to your elected officials and your local press regarding the experiences and treatment of immigrant people.
To cultivate growth this week:
Host an event to empower your congregation and communities to show hospitality to immigrant people.
To advocate this week:
Advocate against efforts of authorities to intimidate the immigrant community.
Daniel Collins is a deacon in the NC Conference currently serving as the Executive Director of Person County Habitat for Humanity.