Witness Online

Redemption - Learning to Dream Again

Redemption - Learning to Dream Again

My father was an alcoholic. Therefore, my early childhood was scarred by pain and disappointment. For me and my two older siblings, our family experience was filled with difficulty.

However, hope entered our lives one summer when a missionary family led a children’s program in our neighborhood. All three of us heard the Gospel and joyfully asked Jesus into our lives. In turn, we eagerly asked the missionaries to pray with us for our parents’ salvation.

Within a year, both my mother and father came to faith in Jesus and began their journey as his followers. Our family was transformed. Each one of us experienced growth in our personal lives and change in our character. We became close to one another, especially as we began to serve alongside each other in the church.

When I was nine years old, I felt that God was calling me to be a missionary when I grew up. I shared this with my missionary friend. As I entered my teen years, I dreamed only about two things: to serve God one day in a cross-cultural setting, and to marry a man who shared my love for God and my desire to serve him.

Later, my dreams began to come true when the pastor’s son and I fell in love and were married. As a newly married couple, we talked about serving God overseas. In preparation, I went to school to study nursing.

One day, just eighteen months into our marriage, I arrived home to an empty house. My husband had packed up and left without explanation, nothing said, nothing written. I was in shock.

For six months, I was in utter despair. My shock turned into depression. My heart was crushed and my dreams were shattered. My husband and his family left town and moved away, while my family rallied around me and cried out to God for comfort and healing.

Months later, my cousin invited me to another church in Guadalajara called Casa de Paz. Slowly, my family and I rediscovered hope and joy as we got to know the people in this congregation and we began serving on the worship team as musicians and dancers. My heart was being healed, but I was still not sure that I would ever dream again.

I had no idea at the time that someone in the congregation had noticed me. It was Joan Godard from Canada. She was asking God about inviting me to join a mission training program called HADIME at the Matthew Training Center (see inset on previous page). Joan didn’t know my story or anything about my dreams. She approached the pastor and received his approval to ask me if I would be interested.

Cautious and insecure, I decided to go to HADIME. During the first days of the program, we gathered together as students and staff and told our stories. No one expected to hear such a painful story from me. But they all cried with me and prayed for me. I began to feel the first stirrings of a dream re-awakening in my heart.

During the next five months, God gave me my life back. The other people in HADIME were witnesses to the change in me. My passion for the nations was re-kindled, as was my heart for prayer. I cried out in intercession, especially for women like me around the world who had suffered. I grew in confidence. I knew that I was loved by my heavenly Father and that he still had a place for me to serve in his kingdom.

When HADIME was finished, I was invited to help out with hosting a Summer ACTION team in Guadalajara. I took the team to a poor neighborhood where my cousin and I had begun to minister to women and children. Two women came to faith in Jesus through our ministry and I was able to invest in their lives on an ongoing basis. It was life-giving for me.

The following year, when HADIME started up again, I was invited to be a leader-in-training. I was asked to lead worship twice a week and to share from the Word of God. I served in practical ways, helping to administer the student work duties, leading outreach ministries, teaching and mentoring one-on-one. I enjoyed working with the team of leaders and building up the students through using my gifts.

Today, I am listening to God for his instruction on my next steps toward serving him in cross-cultural mission. I don’t know what the future holds, but I thank God that I am learning to dream again.

By Leslie Chavira Ocampo