Two years ago, I signed my initial contract with Global Education Ministries (GEM). When I signed my initial contract to serve in Mexico, I had no idea where God was leading me, and yet as I reflect back on my time over the last two years, I am blown away by God’s faithfulness through it all. I went in blind, trusting God, and two years later, I could not be more grateful. Because of this, it made me realize that I knew very little about what it actually meant to be a GEM missionary before actually moving to Mexico, and I thought it would be fun to share some of those things that might not be known on the surface about serving with GEM.
I have asked some of my fellow GEM missionaries to help me compose this list of ten things, and here it is!
10 Things You Don’t Know About Being a GEM Missionary
- (Specific to GEM Missionaries in Mexico): Not everyone loves Mexican food when they move to Mexico. For several missionaries, the food is actually a huge adjustment. Kayla Morales said, “When I first moved to Mexico, I really struggled with adjusting to the food. I promised I’d never like it and that I’d survive off of cereal. But now, I could eat it every single day. When I visit the USA, I crave authentic Mexican food.”
- In moving to another country, naturally you get excited and start preparing to be immersed in the culture. There are so many things that are different when it comes to the culture of another country. As a missionary, you learn to put your own cultural understanding aside in order to learn and take part in the culture that you are living in. This looks like learning how to make traditional food, commuting like the locals (bus, taxi, moto, car, walking, etc.), learning a different language, and so much more.
- When you move overseas to serve you will leave behind family and friends, but you will be surprised at how much the Lord blesses you with another family—one so special, so connected and so united for the same purpose.
- As a GEM missionary, you come in expecting awesome relationships with your students and their families because naturally our main way of ministering to the community is through our local schools. However, the relationships you get with your neighbors and those outside of the school are such unexpected gifts that bless each of those who serve with GEM.
- One really special part about serving with GEM is that once you are a GEM missionary, you are always a GEM missionary. You become a part of generations of people who have served with GEM before your time, and you welcome those that come along after you join as well.
- Many people have this specific idea of what the life of a missionary looks like, but one thing every GEM missionary quickly learns is that life as a missionary just becomes normal every day. It is not that extraordinary. Yes, you live in a foreign context, but it becomes very normal quickly. We live in houses or apartments. We drive cars, motos, or take local forms of transportation. Our days look similar to those in the States— We wake up, have time with Jesus, go to school and work with our students, come home and spend time with family or friends, cook dinner, etc. As a missionary, we pursue others for the sake of Christ, but it is simply a part of the normal rhythms of our lives in the location that God has us for that season.
- GEM is a young ministry, and it is growing more each year. Because of being a younger ministry, being a GEM missionary means that you are a part of what GEM will become. With it being less than 10 years old, every GEM missionary has the opportunity to impact and shape the culture of our ministry in significant ways.
- Being a GEM missionary is more than just your position within the school. You are a part of a community and a local church too, and so much of it intertwines in some pretty unique ways. Many of us work together, worship together, eat together, pursue school families together, plan and prepare for our classes together, and so much more. Being a GEM missionary means that your life is lived on mission in community everyday.
- GEM missionaries are so blessed by those who are partnering with us from the States. While the financial piece of people partnering with GEM is so vital, we also have many people that are regularly praying for us and our schools and encouraging us through notes, phone calls, or care packages. Also, teams come to serve our schools each year through summer camps, Spiritual Emphasis Week, coming to paint our schools, help us prepare for the school year, and more. Our hearts are so encouraged when others walk alongside of us in these ways.
- One of the biggest things that we have all learned as a missionary is that we come to serve, teach, and bless the people, but we end up being served, blessed, and taught more than anyone else. Serving with GEM is a tremendous privilege and blessing, and God uses it to sanctify, mold, and encourage us far more than we could have ever imagined.
**This list was compiled from the following missionaries based on their time serving with GEM: Meg Herring, Kayla Morales, Maggie Addison, Annie Balsey, Kristen McDonald, Daniel McDonald, and Rachel Hill.
Now being in my 4th year as a GEM teacher, one of the sweetest connections I have made since moving to Mexico is with the students. Even though my first year was very challenging, God softened my heart over the summer after my 1st year. Since my 2nd year here, I have felt called to reach out to a few of the middle school girls and to also be genuine with the students I am teaching and tutoring.
God has blessed me so much by being able to connect with them and get to know them, and even their families more and more each year. Having students over to my house for dinner and playing games or being silly with them during class or getting hugs has been so sweet.
However, I have felt called to be more intentional in my interactions with them because I want to be a light for the gospel in their lives. So when I was given the opportunity to lead a small group of girls through a Bible study I was so excited! I would have never imagined four years ago that I would be in such a pivotal role in these girls’ lives.
I was also asked unexpectedly to teach 5th grade for a whole semester due to another teacher’s health. My time teaching the 5th grade had its difficulties, but I can see how God was using me in little ways in those kids lives. I was very nervous and felt very unprepared for both of those roles, but I knew God had a plan far greater than I could imagine and I knew He would give me strength in my weakness.
I have been so thankful for the different conversations I have had with several students! I can see how God is working in their hearts and I’m looking forward to what else God will do in their lives. I am even amazed at how God is using these students to show me how loved I am by Him. I write this as a reminder for myself and others – that God can use ANYONE to make a difference for the gospel. And He will often call you to step up in unexpected ways to lead others, and through Him, we are completely qualified for these important roles. I am thankful for this semester of unexpected opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone for Jesus!
If you’d like to support Tracy as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!
“What great love the Father has given us, that we should be called His children! What great love.”
As I looked around at the students, some participating and some stubbornly sitting in their seats, it hit me that this is what we are standing for. Those very words we were singing, signs we were making with our hands, they were not just a group activity. They were narrating the greatest story of history to a room full of boys and girls in Puerto Escondido, thousands of miles away from where that story took place approximately two thousand years ago.
At that moment, as I stood singing with the children, I stopped focusing so much on getting the hand motions correct and realized the power of the words being sung. And suddenly, I wasn’t just singing, I was worshipping in the midst of the children, singing the very words which are the reason for our every breath. They are why I came to Mexico in the first place and they are why the Manantial staff pours into their students every day. They are why all of our stories are being interwoven in a tapestry of His grace as we live in the joy of that truth.
During my time at Manantial, I have been reminded of how God relatesd to us as a father to His children. As it says in Matthew 19:14: But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” I think of this verse as I picture the students joyfully running through the school gate greeting teachers along the way. Part of our role as teachers is not only welcoming them in but ushering them into the embrace of their True Teacher and Father.
Ironically, as I reflect on our work here, I realize that the above verse is one from a song I memorized during my own childhood! I am struck by the importance which this stage of life bears on each individual student. These years are the springboard for adulthood and we have the privilege of equipping them with and caring for their mental and spiritual state. Manantial is not just a place where these students will learn to read or write, it is a place they will learn to forgive and be reconciled with their friends; a place where they will regularly be reminded of a God who chose to come into the world as a child. They will learn that this child, Jesus, grew into a man and forever changed the world by His sacrifice and great love. And for THAT reason, we can have joy like a child’s joy, with confidence in our Father’s love for us.
So sing with joy my friends! We have every reason to.
Mallory Beckett, GEM Volunteer
One of the most incredible attributes of God is that he is never not faithful. Really. He is constant, an ever assured rock where we as believers are founded. God is never not faithful to be loving, to be gracious, to set his purpose into place, and to reveal his glory. He even is faithful to use us for his divine purpose. Humans. He wants us to be vessels for him. I mean, a God that is so perfect, choosing sinners to further his kingdom? Kinda crazy. To add to the crazy, when we are in constant relationship with him, we become more like him. When we choose to follow his path of righteousness, we too can become more faithful to what he commands. It’s a beautiful thing that he calls us to be divine, to be holy like him. I have never been more reminded of his faithfulness, his steadfastness, than when I visited Puerto Escondido.
Being given the opportunity to know the staff and students at Manantial is one that I keep close to my heart. The Lord has been so faithful to plan the steps of each staff member of this precious school. The students see glimpses of Jesus every day because of what they see in their teachers. As soon as you step through the white gate into the school, the atmosphere is so spirit filled. I can’t describe to you the encouragement and joy and peace that anyone can feel in that place. I can only attribute it to faith. The labor that staff members have put into this school has definitely not gone in vain. God is using education, a privilege that some of these children might not have if it weren’t for GEM, to reveal himself. These children are such sweet blessings. Each one so unique, bringing their own talents to make this school even more special. I really cannot speak enough words to say just how much Manantial is doing and how faithful God has been to make the school flourish. Seriously. Pray for the school, sponsor a child, visit Puerto (also because tacos and the beach!), serve alongside GEM, and be faithful to see God’s story played out in this beautiful place.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-59
It’s impossible to narrow my favorite things about GEM down to only three, but I will stick to just a few for the sake of this blog post. The first thing I absolutely love about working with Global Education Ministries is the incredible people who I work with each day. Jesus has faithfully brought together a group of genuine, selfless people who are really passionate about this ministry. Each morning we spend half an hour as a group in morning devotions. We pray for each other, encourage one another, and bless each other by digging into God’s word daily. Sometimes I have to stop myself in the middle of my day and remember how privileged I am to be serving with such an amazing family of believers who have the same motivation, which is Christ. It is all by God’s grace that this is my reality.
Another aspect of GEM that I love is that I have the opportunity to pour into my student’s spiritual lives on a daily basis. Education is an extremely important asset in today’s world and is a major priority at our school, but Global Education Ministries is also a completely gospel-centered organization. Personally, I believe a child’s faith is much more valuable than anything else in the world. The fact that we have an entire class period devoted to learning about God’s word each day is an incredible gift. In fact, integrating biblical truth into our education doesn’t stop there! If a child has a spiritual question in the middle of science class, we are able to stop, debrief and have a discussion that could change a child’s faith forever. With GEM, it isn’t just about them getting good grades or finishing a math test on time, it’s all about Jesus.
Last but not least, Global Education Ministries hasn’t just given me the chance to meet awesome teachers, but serving at our school has given me the opportunity to meet so many different individuals with different backgrounds; some who love Jesus, and some who were put in my life for the purpose of coming to know Him. GEM makes an effort to accept middle to low-income families as students at our school. This has given us the chance to partner with people who are in physical need but also with those who have never heard of the gospel. GEM doesn’t just seek to educate the rich or Christian population, but the low and the lost. This is such a beautiful thing!
Overall, I can confidently say that Jesus is using Global Education Ministries to transform the hearts of many. That is why I love it so much! As we faithfully serve with GEM, my prayer is that the world would continue to be changed bit by bit, all for the glory of the King.
– Natalia (Miss Nati)
Natalia has served with GEM for almost 2 years now as the Kinder 1 & 2 teacher. She loves music, art and bringing laughter to any situation. At the end of this school year, she will move back to Toronto, Canada to serve with the Children’s Ministry at her home church.