Thursday, November 3, 2011

Showing Up

I came to Nicaragua as a lay missionary from the New England Conference for what was then going to be a year. But many of you who have felt a call know that God often has other plans for us if we are willing to say yes.

So that is the first and more important part of being a missionary, continually saying yes, over and over again to God’s call and direction. My pastor Rev. Joseph Crocker once said that what is required of us in life is to show up and the rest is revealed from there.

That first year I was here I worked really hard to solve all of the dental problems of Nicaragua, thinking that it was all up to me, and often worked myself into a tizzy when I realized I would not reach the goal. At the end of that year when I was heading back to the US to discern the future, I was visibly distraught and guilty at leaving so many new Nicaraguan friends in their dire state and social challenges.

A wise Nicaraguan named Salvador Ocón said some very important parting words to me, “Belinda,” he said, “It is wonderful that you have come to offer your dental skills and care for that big problem here in Nicaragua and extract lots of teeth. But what is more important is that you took a year of your life to live with us and learn from us and now you go back to tell your people in the United States about our reality. That is your gift to us.”
Missionary Dr. Belinda Forbes, left, cares for the dental needs of children in Nicaragua with dental team member,  Isa Guti, right. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Forbes)
These words helped to shape what would become now twenty years of ministry that has me working in everything from dental programs to partnership relationships between churches and now international relations that include the cultural exchange program that Anya (Patterson) and Kesley (Kelly) are participating in.

Kesley and Anya will be with young people from Norway, Kenya, Brazil, Madagascar, and the Philippines. It is my privilege to help them participate in this exciting cross-cultural program that is designed to motivate young people in global issues and solidarity.

So my role as a missionary has diversified over the years, it is still very technical and focused on a specific skill in dentistry that I was trained for, but the longer I am here, the more my role is about presence and accompaniment, mentoring and facilitating, and generally being a resource to connect people across miles and cultures in creative ways help to serve the poor and build God’s realm on Earth.

My faith community is made up of committed and talented colleagues here at AMC which include my husband Gerardo, but also the extended community on whose behalf I serve – my supporting covenant churches in the United States who have made a commitment to not only give financially, but make me a part of their local church ministry and use my missionary presence as an extension of their congregational life. That support and representation is essential for the spiritual nourishment of a missionary and to enable us to be effective in our work.

So to close I would just sum up this reflection in three points.

1. Remember to say yes, whenever God is calling.

Missionaries Alex Devoid and Belinda Forbes with youth leaders,
Kesley Kelly and Anya Patterson (Photo courtesy of Belinda Forbes) 
2. Try not to do mission all on your own – find your team both locally and globally, and find your replacements – whether they know it or not, I have three of them sitting right here with me.

3. The most important thing that God may want from you today is most likely NOT on your To Do list. God may be calling you to stretch your gifts and talents in new ways.

Then shall your light shine like the dawn.  Amen.

Belinda Forbes is a missionary of The United Methodist Church through the General Board of Global Ministries. Read more about Dr. Forbes at Dr. Forbes's missionary biography page. 

To find out more about the ACM, Accion Médica Cristiana, Christian Medical Action, link to:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Belinda. I will share these in my workshops at the New England School of Congregational Development today (4Nov). Peace ~ Dan


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