Rob DePeralta recently shares with us his story of fighting distraction and being purposeful about the Gospel on his trip to Guatemala.
Like many people, I grew up going to church. As a child, I enjoyed going to church and learning about the Lord. Being surrounded by people who loved God felt right.
That joy continued through the middle of my adolescent years. The best part of that time was singing in our church choir. When we sang, I could feel the spirit run through me.
It was an overwhelming, empowering, and unexplainable experience.
Little did I know the enemy was lurking and scheming up ways to distract me. You know when people say, “I wish I knew then what I know now”? Well, that is me.
At 16 years old I wasn’t prepared for what would happen over the next 25 years. If I knew then what I know now, I hope I would have made better decisions. I would have been more aware of the distractions and prepared myself daily.
I’ve learned there are many distractions in this world that take our attention away from God and His work. In Romans 16:17, God warns us of pitfalls and urges us to turn away from them.
It wasn’t until I went on a Mission Trip to Guatemala that I learned what I was being distracted from.
I heard it clearly. “Why are you here?” kept ringing in my head when Pastor James asked if I would give my testimony to a neighborhood in Guatemala City. My response was, I would think about it and pray about it.
The next morning, as we unloaded the shuttle van to start our day at the vacation bible school, I did my best to pass and avoid Pastor James in a small tight hallway. But something tugged at me to turn around and go talk to him. I heard a voice saying, “Why are you here?” I remember saying to myself, “You know what you need to do,” but I didn’t want to listen.
I shook it off and told Pastor that I would need more time to pray about it. Just as I turned to go upstairs to prepare for the day’s classes, I could feel my heart beating heavily, and my hands started sweating.
Before the next thought entered my mind, I heard it again, but with more clarity, “WHY ARE YOU HERE?” This time I answered to myself, “I’m here to share the gospel”. So, without even thinking about it, I went straight back to Pastor James and said, “I’ll do it!” He asked me, “Are you sure?” I wanted to take that as an opportunity to back out, but instead something inside me spoke up and said, “Yes, I’m sure. That’s why I’m here”.
Distraction, the dangerous kind, is when your attention from something of greater importance is shifted to something of lesser importance. I learned the lesser were things of this world, and the greater was the Lord’s Mission, his Great Commission. In Matthew 28:16-20, He tells us to “GO and make disciples of all nations.” He wants us to share the Gospel and teach others to obey in the Lord.
That’s why I’m here. That’s why you are here, to share the Good News.
Before I stepped out to share my testimony, I prayed to God asking Him to take over because I couldn’t do it without Him, and I didn’t want to get in the way of His message. I asked Him to speak through me so that whatever was said was from Him and not me.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not a good public speaker. In fact, I’m the worst. I get nervous, I sweat, I shake, my voice quivers, and I stumble over my words. However, the moment I stepped out to give my testimony, all of that left me.
Have you seen Forrest Gump? If so, remember the scene where he steps up to the mic to give a speech at the Washington Monument? That’s the best way to describe it. I felt as if I were a spectator and couldn’t hear what I was saying. But, when I was done, I could hear myself say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
In Matthew 18:4 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
That feeling I had when I was younger returned the moment I stepped out to share my testimony. My prayer since that moment has been to never step backward from faith, but to step forward and be fearless. I pray asking God to remove all distractions from my life so I can hear clearly what He needs from me every day.