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Mission As A Way Of Life
Thursday, March 9, 2017

Beth and I have been joyfully serving in CFC for the past 16 years in the Middle East and Africa. We received news of our new assignment as CFC Southwest Europe Regional Coordinator early February of this year, and with grateful hearts, we thanked God for continuing to trust us to serve in His vineyard.

 

Refiner’s Fire

The Lord has been preparing our hearts for this new mission. The past two years have been a very challenging phase in our life as husband and wife, God’s way of testing our faithfulness and molding us as He taught us to completely trust in Him, to depend on Him alone and not on our resources, abilities and talents. We learned to love being with the Lord and enjoy His presence, communicating better with Him in our sacred space. As we said "yes" to the new service we were excited to face another challenge but confident that our merciful and loving God will be with us and provide everything we need for the mission. Here, Matthew 6:33 came alive: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”

 

We received an invitation to attend the CFC European Leaders Retreat and Conference to be held in Assisi, Italy as part of the service team. Our God is a faithful God! He arranged everything, made our preparation for the mission trip effortless, and provided all the resources we needed for the trip. Our desire to serve Him became even more intense.

 

God’s Anointing

God's timing is perfect. Every place we go on mission, our first destination upon arrival is always to visit the local church for thanksgiving and to seek the Lord’s blessing and Mother Mary's intercession. By God’s grace we were blessed to attend an indoor public audience with Pope Francis along with 6,000 faithful. God used the local CFC head as instrument to make it easy and possible for us to listen to the Pope’s message. Our excitement was heightened, an affirmation of our “yes” to serve Him, assuring that He will be with us.

 

The Lord spoke to us through Pope Francis’ exhortation, “All of us are called to be God's tool for service. Expect challenges, but do not be dismayed. In every situation always say, My God loves me! There is always hope, and hope is everything.”

 

A Global Family

Later in the evening we were again nourished as we joined a Spirit-filled household prayer meeting with our brethren in Rome. The Lord used us to inspire our brethren who are about to start a Christian Life Program. We shared with them our experience of remaining faithful to God amidst trials and difficulties and being always mission ready. It was such a blessing to serve brothers and sisters in the Lord. Everywhere we went, we felt God's love through their warm welcome (and delicious food especially the local speciality, Macedonia, prepared with much love!).

 

The Retreat - “Come Apart and Rest Awhile”

Assisi, Italy was a properly discerned location for the CFC European Leaders Retreat and Conference. St. Francis of Assisi had a mystical vision of Icon of Christ Crucified who said to him three times, "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins". Francis took this literally to mean the ruined church in which he was presently praying (Porziuncula). We too are called to help rebuild the church in Europe through CFC. We are the living church.

 

Legend has it that also in this location, Saint Francis himself rolled naked amongst the thorn bushes, in order to combat doubt and temptation. It is said that on contact with the Saint’s body, thorn-less roses began to bloom, and they still do to this day only in this special garden! It was such a powerful, inspiring reminder! Whenever faced with temptation and doubts, God will lead us away from hurts and make our sacrifices during our mission bearable, even painless, giving us courage to go on.

 

During the retreat, Rouquel and Nina Ponte taught us about the Gospel of contemplation. Beth and I became more aware of the need to constantly seek the Lord and deepen our relationship with Him.  We learned to speak with God and more importantly to listen to what the Lord is telling us in any situation. We learned to listen to His message and identify reasons to celebrate, find situations where healing is needed, and seek conditions where mercy and forgiveness is needed. We learned to bring prayer from outer to inner self, from mind to feelings, resulting into a deep connection and encounter with the Lord.

 

We learned to always maintain a contemplative stance in the face of temptation, in despair, or whenever we feel abandoned or betrayed.

 

We learned to find and imprint in our hearts and mind a sacred space where we can be close and speak to God intimately—a sacred space where we encounter God and speak with Him about everything. There we can lift up to Him our petitions, our concerns, our troubles, joys, gratitude, disappointments, needs and aspirations.

 

It was a life changing experience which helped us become more aware of His real presence in our life, reminding us that He will always be with us, leading us in our mission and that all of us are so blessed because of His continuous love and mercy to us.

 

What a way to start a new mission in Europe!

 

"All of us are on a spiritual journey. Our journey is to discover the perfect love which only God can give to us." The only way to discover that perfect love is to be transformed to a new creation in Christ - "old things have passed away, behold new things have come." 2 Cor 5:17

 

And so, our prayer now is: “Lord, make me a channel of your peace, bringing your message of love, hope, faith and forgiveness. Let the mission begin, not just in a region, a country or a destination but always and everywhere proclaiming God’s love.”  (Ramuel and Beth Garcia)




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