Experiencing the Tidal Wave of God’s Love
by Erika Rodriguez
On December 26, 2004, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the western coast of the Indonesian island Sumatra, triggering a series of tidal waves that devastated Southeast Asia. Banda Aceh, Indonesia instantly lost over 170,000 of its 225,000 people in this disaster. As I watched this tragedy unfold along with the rest of the world, I felt an intense desire to help these people; little did I know that two and a half years later in His timing, God would fulfill my desire.
As the world began to realize the degree of devastation caused by this heart-rending catastrophe, many churches soon saw that the tsunami had granted instant access to the hurting people within. Though this predominantly Muslim country still remains closed to Christianity, the doors to this once-restricted city were finally opened to the outside world.
During the summer of 2007, I was privileged to be a part of the first team our church was able to send into the newly opened area of Banda Aceh. Although this trip was unlike any medical mission trip I had ever been on, God used it to teach me more about Himself and His love than I could have anticipated.
In many ways, my recent trip to Indonesia showed me that just as God can create something out of nothing, He can take our frail attempts at serving Him and somehow use them for His glory. We look at the $2600 it cost to go on a trip like this and think that because of our “sacrifice,” God has us waiting backstage for our debut in a series of miracles He is preparing to unveil. Then we return (or at least I did!) and find ourselves wondering if we should have just taken the $2600 it took to send each member of the team and instead, sent it to the people we were trying so hard to reach. How do you effectively love someone who you come in contact with for a brief 10 minutes, when you aren’t allowed to tell them about Christ? How much impact can you really have when you give antibiotics, Tylenol and vitamins to people who are suffering from the hopelessness of life without Light and constant reminders of devastation and sorrow?
One morning after devotions, I was volunteered to pray for our day before we left to do medical work in another village. I remember asking the Lord to break our hearts for the people and to help us see them through His eyes… to really see what He saw when He looked at them and to really feel the love that He feels. Several hours later, as I sat on a dirty floor with tears running down my face, holding a sobbing Muslim woman who had caught a glimpse of me and, just for a second, thought that I was her daughter who had died in the tsunami, I wondered why in the world God had brought me to Indonesia.
Later that afternoon, as I chased the kids, played and laughed until I couldn’t breathe, I realized that this was what I was made for. What we were all made for… as His children, we are called to love as He does because it IS the language that crosses all barriers and speaks to every heart. Love caused Him to bridge the gap for us… He came so that He can cry alongside of us and hold us in our pain. He came so that He can listen to the deepest cries of our hearts, comfort us in times of sorrow and then take our hands, pull us to our feet and teach us how to run, live and laugh with the joy and freedom that can be found only in relationship with Him! He fulfills our every need and in doing so, He enables us to see the world the way He does: just as our faces are imprinted on His heart, He opens our hearts to embrace those He came to reach.
I now realize that we may never know the exact reason we were sent to the opposite side of the world. But, even if we were only meant to show His love for a brief minute, it’s a love that is never wasted, has the power to change lives and can communicate, even without words.