By Olivia Stanton, Coordinator of Student Initiatives at Show Hope
On June 7, I boarded a plane headed for Beijing, China, with two of my Show Hope colleagues and 17 high school and college students from across the country. We were embarking on Show Hope’s first Student Global Training Trip of the summer of 2019 to spend time at Show Hope’s flagship Care Center, Maria’s Big House of Hope (Maria’s), in Luoyang, China, and to spend time with the precious children cared for there.
As I was preparing to co-lead this trip, I battled strong feelings of inadequacy. How was I supposed to lead students into a country and culture I had never experienced myself? To be honest, I didn’t know if I had it in me to do this big thing that God was asking me to do.
After a couple of long travel days, our big bus pulled into Maria’s for the first time. My eyes filled with tears as I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and assurance—the Lord was with me and would provide all that I needed for this journey.
Many of the students on the team had experienced the pain and brokenness of this world in profound ways. It feels like an understatement to say that it was a gift to spend time with them and hear their stories. By saying “yes” to this trip, these students were choosing to take all of their hard and use it to bring hope and joy to the lives at Maria’s. When they shared the sacred details of their testimonies with me or with the team, I usually found myself at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t know how to “fix” their hurt—but it was through my inadequacy that I was able to experience God’s sufficiency. He wasn’t expecting me to come up with the right words or solve anything; he just wanted me to be—to listen and to love unconditionally.
I also felt God nudging me to be as I spent time playing with the children. For the most part, if the children were old enough to talk, they spoke Mandarin as did their nannies. I was truly surprised at how little this language barrier mattered. I spent hours smiling, singing, and playing with the kids, and laughing with the nannies over the silly and sweet things the children would do. They weren’t expecting anything from me; they simply loved someone being there to play with them, hold them, or just sit with them. It was a sacred experience to spend hours of uninterrupted time engaging with the kids. I didn’t know anything about their pasts or their futures—or much else about them beyond their names and ages. Even still, each one of them became precious to me.
From that time, I was reminded that this is how Christ sees each one of us. As he looks into our faces, he is not remembering all of the ways in which we have fallen short in the past or are sure to in the future. We are his precious children in whom he delights, and we are invited to come and be still before him—exactly as we are.
Ultimately, it turned out that I didn’t have it in me to do the big thing that God was asking me to do. I couldn’t say the right things, and I certainly couldn’t heal anyone’s brokenness—but that is not what God required of me. I just needed to be present, and he did the rest. He helped me use my own afflictions to walk alongside the students as they worked through their trials.
Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” When we show up in obedience to Christ and allow him to do his work through us, he does far more than we could have ever imagined.