Christopher Findley, a student at Southwestern Adventist University, had the opportunity to serve in Peru through The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Connections this past Summer. Below, he shares about his experience while serving abroad, how God worked through him, and how being a Human of SWAU prepared him for this endeavor.
The water was bone-chilling, but the cool, transparent liquid splashing against my skin didn’t bother me as I stepped further into the river. Thoughts of how great God is and for His answered prayers, ran through my mind and warmed my heart as I prepared to baptize a young woman, our chef.
When the chef at our ADRA Connections camp decided to be baptized, I knew that it was only by the grace of God because she never attended worship. The beauty of it was, she didn’t need to be preached to or evangelized. What changed her was the love she saw demonstrated by the ADRA Connections team and volunteers. Because she saw that love in action, she felt inspired to give her life to Jesus.
My mind drifted again to some of my great adventures in Peru: building a school, leading worship, and exploring a beautiful country. While these experiences were life changing, the greatest moment was when I rediscovered the true meaning of servant-leadership.
It all started when I asked God to help open a door for me to work with ADRA. My prayers were answered when Adam Wamack, manager of ADRA Connections, visited Southwestern Adventist University. We met and began to discuss the chance of serving as the trip’s pastor.
I spent months praying to God for this opportunity to come to fruition. Nothing was guaranteed, but I knew that this was God’s calling for me. Then, I got the confirmation to go to Peru to serve as a pastor. No words can express how I felt knowing I would serve in another country as the hands and feet of Jesus.
When I got to Peru, I met my fellow volunteers. We knew that we would be working on an elementary school, but we didn’t know how hard we would be working.A typical day started with breakfast and worship. Leading worship was a blessing because we had a praise team and amazing activities with the ADRA staff. After breakfast, we loaded the vans and headed to the work site to work on the elementary school. The work site was very rigorous since we were building a school with progress each day. However, the toil and labor were worth every moment knowing the school would be dedicated to young people who needed a sturdy building in which to learn. By the grace of God we got it done.
On the days we were not working on the school we got to explore the country of Peru. The country was absolutely beautiful as I saw first-hand God's artistic work in the beautiful mountains and nature.
God gave me an opportunity through ADRA connections to travel with a purpose. Of course, God wanted me to immerse myself in a beautiful world, to appreciate His creation, and reap in the benefits of nature. While doing so, I realized that I was created to serve. It is through acts of service I am more aware that even with the little resources we may have to help, it can make a big impact for people’s livelihoods anywhere. Something as simple as a new school can bless the lives of future generations. Knowing that I had a few days to be part of that experience was very fulfilling.
As I reflect on this experience, I am reminded that Southwestern Adventist University is the reason why I was able to partake in these spiritual experiences. My theology professors like Dr. Azevedo and Professor Swoopes always inspired me to pray for the Holy Spirit to lead all my efforts. Missions Week programming helped me to understand the importance of faith in Jesus, which inspired me to serve abroad. The personalized theology classes like Homiletics helped me improve my skills in delivering God's Word. Service is integral to the educational experience at Southwestern Adventist University and I am thankful that it led to my opportunity to serve with ADRA.
This experience has improved my walk with God, grown my faith, and inspired me to tell others about the joy of serving. I spent every night in prayer on my knees asking God to bless each worship service with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and He did.It is my prayer that by God’s grace, I have future opportunities such as this to serve for Christ.