Writen by Founder Lauren (DeHays) Guillen
Growing up at Ginghamsburg I’ve always seen the importance that the church has placed on service towards others, which includes the area of missions.Through this experience in the church, my dad’s international travel for his job and even a family vacation to Puerto Rico, I’ve always had a heart specifically for the Latino community and have felt the urge to want to help at a young age.
I was hooked after my first international mission trip in college and knew it wouldn’t be my last.God opened the door for me to graduate from my university a semester early, a decision that was extremely difficult because it would mean ending my track career at Marshall early. As I started to wonder if medical school was really God’s chosen path for me, I felt that serving overseas could give me a different perspective, and I could hear God more clearly. Therefore, I decided to serve in El Salvador for four months with a faith-based non-profit called, Christ For the City International. That was the beginning of my journey of being a missionary and where my heart became attached.
After several months of back and forth mission trips serving in El Salvador, I truly felt that becoming a medical doctor was not the path for me and I honestly struggled letting go of that. It took me a long time before I realized that God was slowly nudging me towards a different path. One that I look back on now and couldn’t imagine any other way. In October of 2014 I felt God’s peace in the decision of becoming a full-time missionary in El Salvador.
While living in El Salvador I learned so much and after a year, despite what “I” had thought, God was calling me back to the States to continue serving those in El Salvador. God’s timing can definitely be unexpected, but it is always perfect. While living in El Salvador, I met my now husband, Cristian. I mention timing because it wasn’t until after I moved back to the US that we began dating and later became engaged.
God, in God’s goodness, knows exactly the right steps and timing for our lives, and it was no different for Cristian and I. Before we were even married, God had been planting in my heart, Cristian’s heart and even my dad’s heart to start an organization to engage those in the US with a heart to serve and resources to give, and connect those to whom we know in El Salvador who are in need.
Reach Out International was born, and shortly after God blessed us in a big way by clearing a path for Cristian to move to the States for us to get married and set up our home base here in Ohio.
This July we had the privilege of partnering with Ginghamsburg to take a small group of missionaries to an island in El Salvador, called La Calzada, to learn and serve amongst the people. This trip was the pioneer trip, and our main goal was to live and learn from the people in order to know how we can best come alongside them and serve together.
Often times mission teams have good intentions, yet come down with an agenda that they think will best serve the people. While we are blessed with knowledge and resources, I’ve seen the importance of coming in as a learner to see what God is already doing amongst his people. We then can better see how to support those we wish to serve with. I believe both cultures, both peoples, can learn and grow from each other. That alone gives me great joy and fulfillment knowing that God can use me, God can use Reach Out International and God can use any of God’s children who are willing to be a bridge and connect those in need.