Hospitality & Hope

We just had a team return from Nicaragua. Through our partnerships with local schools and churches, the team worked in classrooms, hosted a medical clinic, and did pastoral training. Read about Jake’s experience on the team:


Nicaragua is a place that is evident of our Savior’s presence.  During my week long trip, God’s love was shown through service to others, the teaching of His Word, and expressing gratitude and love towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.  After searching for opportunities to serve abroad this summer, doors were closed, and the opportunity to participate in Grace’s trip to Nicaragua presented itself and it was clear that it was my responsibility to apply for the trip, and leave the rest of the details for God to hammer out.

During this time, Satan presented opportunities for me to doubt my decision about going.  My family was dealing with cancer.  I’m thankful to have wise community around me.  My small group leader summed it up pretty quickly one day as he and I were chatting: This trip aligned with my gifts and talents.  God would use me and richly bless others and myself.  Satan was trying to stop me.  I am thankful that God sends us truth through biblical community.  From that conversation on, it was evident that I was to move forward and pursue this trip.  God provided the funds needed to make this trip happen, and blessed me in so many ways, as I was hoping to bless others.

This trip uniquely aligned to my talents and career because it presented an opportunity to be a part of a group of certified teachers and work with the faculty and students at Nicaragua Christian Academy (NCA) in Matagalpa.  Teaching is my passion.  I have a love for my job and desire to see how lives are changed as opportunities are presented through the world of academia.  I love seeing those “Ah-ha!” moments when children understand a difficult concept and their understanding is widened.  I was excited to get to share my passion for teaching with the teachers at NCA Matagalpa and knew that I could learn from them as well.

His body is active loving and serving the community there.

Upon arriving in Nicaragua, it is easy to get so caught up in the fact that many people lack wealth. According to our American standards, they live in poverty.  However, it was evident that God is present in His creation;  His body is active loving and serving the community there, and He wants us to understand what it looks like to fully depend on Him to supply our needs.

In my time at NCA, I was encouraged by the focus of the school. The school exists to mold children into believers and help them understand what it means to follow Jesus.  Education is important, but it only strengthens and stretches the mind; cultivating the hearts of the children and planting seeds of faith yields the most important aspect of life, as this lasts for eternity.  Children attend chapel services that help them understand that our God is slow to anger, and how we should reflect that in our actions as we love those around us.

In every classroom, children are exposed to the uniqueness and value of each child within an inclusive setting, where both children with and without special needs learn together.  This helps the children understand that we were all created with a purpose, God created us with value, and that we are to serve those who are different than us.  It was amazing to see children so young understand such a big concept I as they opened the door for a classmate who’s walking was difficult due to spina bifida. Or as a peer tried to help a classmate trace triangle shapes because it was difficult for her to stay focused and control her pencil due to possible autism.

Another memorable experience was getting to stay with a host family for an evening.  This provided a full immersion experience for a night, where we visited with our host families, ate dinner with them, “lived” with them for the night, and ate breakfast with them the next morning.  Three men from our group stayed with the pastor and his family from the local church that was partnering with us for the medical clinic.

He and his wife welcomed us into their homes and went out of their way to make sure we felt safe, provided for, and comfortable.  They prepared delicious meals and even purchased Coca-Cola for us as a treat.  During the evening, the pastor’s brother and nephew came to visit.  The nephew brought his guitar and played. We were able to listen to worship in Spanish, sing along in English, and ultimately worship Jesus together.  I was overwhelmed with the realization that God had created each of us, given each of us a purpose,  and died for each of us. He brought us together for a reason, knew each of us intimately, understood what was happening inside our home, and was present with us.  My understanding of how big our God is was truly deepened.

My heart was convicted because often times I make excuses about why I can’t have people to my house.

Leaving Nicaragua was hard.  I had created great friendships and made incredible memories with people that live there and in our group from Grace.  The week was full of community that was a blessing to me. I had so many mixed emotions about returning home: My heart was convicted because often times I make excuses about why I can’t have people to my house: “It’s too small;” “It isn’t nice enough;” “It’s in the wrong area of Greenville.

I was humbled through this experience by the people of Nicaragua.  By our standards, they went without, and were uncomfortable in order to welcome us and make us feel at home.  I pray that God would change my heart and that I would be more willing to be hospitable and welcome others into my home without fear of their judgement. My responsibility is to share the blessings that God has given to me, in hopes of blessing others.

People, whether that be in Eleuthera, in Nicaragua, in the United States, in South Carolina, in Greenville, or our next door neighbors, all need a lasting hope.

Nicaragua was the second mission trip that I’ve participated in with Grace.  A few years ago, I went to Eleuthera. God prepared me in Eleuthera for Nicaragua. He helped me understand then that “stuff” only fills a temporary need.  People, whether that be in Eleuthera, in Nicaragua, in the United States, in South Carolina, in Greenville, or our next door neighbors, all need a lasting hope.  We need Jesus.  As a believer, it’s my responsibility- our responsibility- to enter into their lives, to love them like Jesus, to show credibility through our actions, and to let the Holy Spirit guide us and move us. He is present. He is here.  He is all-knowing. He cares.

-Jake Gambrell