“When we were praying about the trip, before we even found a location, we felt the Lord was telling us, putting a vision on our hearts, that would reveal the simplicity and tangibility of the gospel,” said Intercultural Studies alum James Comenzo, co-leader of Team Ensenada.
The family that James and his team constructed for and with waited three years for a home. He referred to James 1:27, which says “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” So often, we see Jesus referring to Himself as the “bread of life” and the “light of the world.” Bread and light are fundamentally corporeal essentials for living on earth, to pave the way of understanding that we need Him to sustain our souls into eternity. To James, this truth was made tangible in those few days spent serving, as they were able to be God’s hands and feet of mending and provision for the long awaited physical and spiritual needs of Marta, Roberto, and Roberto Jr.
Although the missions task requiring hands-on construction started out by being a building project, it quickly became clear that it was “more about God than the materials and the building.” So often our tangible lives are synthetically strung together by barely-there threads and unopened jars of clay. It’s easy to view these service projects as nothing more than wooden planks and buckets of concrete and to forget the people we are serving. But the beauty of God’s workmanship is that he transforms our mindsets and perspectives to resemble His more and more as we are exposed to the way He works in our hearts. No longer are these projects to reach the end of checking off a box in an interminable list of good deeds to do, but rather projects that mend the home and the heart of the human.
As a recent Biola graduate, James reflected on how refreshing it was, as Christians in Christian communities, to take a breath and a step from the focused vision of degrees and differentiations. As a previous member of SMU’s Team Nepal last summer, James contemplated the common denominator of both trips being that the “church and relationships need to be unified cross-culturally. The gospel transcends language, race, culture.”
So, this is an ode to the people who the projects are for.