10 Things You Don’t Know About Being a GEM Missionary

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

  1. (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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 
  9. 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. 
  10. 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. 


-Rachel Hill, GEM Missionary

Who is God and Who am I?

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”‭‭ Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-25

Wow, these words. I was cut to the core this morning. To be quite honest, any sort of praise or recognition of God’s goodness has been far from my lips. I hadn’t even realized how hard my heart had become until I started reading different passages like this and realized how little faith I had in them. 

I don’t know about you, but lately I have found it much easier to focus on the hardships, hurdles, and things going wrong in my life. I have been spending way too much time complaining to God about everything around me, crying out about the evil that continues to infect our world, and growing bitterness in my heart for all of the ‘unfairness’ I see. In my flesh, my heart says ‘God is not good and He is definitely not Faithful because if He were, He would do this or that… or ‘how could God be silent in times like these?’… but oh how incredibly wrong this is, how much farther from the truth could this be!

Number one, who am I to think such things about God? How could I (mere dust) point my finger at THE living God and say, ‘this is unfair, you don’t know what is good, you need to change things’? 

Psalm 24 tells us, 

“The earth is the Lord ‘s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” – ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭24:1-3‬ ‭

Psalm 33 reads,

 “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host… Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm… The counsel of the LORD stands forever” – v. 6, 8-9 & 11.

Who am I in comparison to YAHWEH?! God is the Holy, Perfect, and Just Creator of the Universe. He is the One in charge.

Number two. After reflecting on God being the Sovereign, Powerful Author of all things, Lamentations 3:22-25 (above) reminded me that God is also overflowing in mercy… without condition. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end” – Lam. 3:22. God has never stopped pouring out his love and mercy on us, ever. Even after accusing God and having an ungrateful heart, He has not ceased to bless me every single day with both the gift of salvation and the physical gifts that I take for granted, e.g. food, safety, clothing, etc. Jesus laid his life down for the sheep. 1 John 2:2 says, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Need I say more? The LORD has loved each of us beyond what we can ever comprehend, He is indeed The Good Shepherd; the very definition of Faithful love. 

And Lastly, the third thing. Psalm 33 showed me what my heart’s response should be to God. “Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD” – v. 1-5

He is more than worthy of praise. Truly. After reading verses this and pondering all of the other scriptures mentioned, my heart was totally changed. God made Psalm 33 the song of my heart. You know how? I looked upward instead of to myself for the answers. This is how amazing and wonderful God is!  The moment we give ourselves over to Him and realize His love, he begins to shape our hearts and take out all of the darkness and untruth. When we begin to believe we are in charge, that is when things fall apart. When we stop trusting God for who He is. 

Cry out to God in faith and He WILL respond. He saved me from my bitter heart! Before reading Psalm 33, I was filled with discouragement and sadness. After being exhorted to praise, for the rest of the day I couldn’t get praise songs out of my head! It just started flowing out of me! So Let us constantly consider – Who is God? And who am I? The Lord loves you and He will show you His love if you seek Him… “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” Lam. 3:25.


Natalia Saint Clair, GEM volunteer

My Journey to Mexico

God has led me to the country of Mexico after college, but why? Why am I going? How did He “lead me” there?


Over the past year (at least), the Lord has been ordering my steps so that I would be going to Mexico in August. It is crazy to think about how intentional God is, but I am so thankful He works in ways that I could never comprehend.
 
My story starts about a year ago when I was in South Africa with a college ministry. At that time, I believed I would have been going on staff with that ministry when I graduated in May of 2018. However, the Lord made it abundantly clear through that trip and a few months afterward that He was not calling me to go on staff with this college ministry. I went through a season where I mourned the loss of this dream. I had no idea what I would be doing after school.
 
While I was studying Elementary Education, I really did not want to teach. When the door closed to the college ministry, I could not even begin to imagine what I would do after graduation. However, in God’s kindness and love, He began to grow my love of teaching. I found a joy while I was teaching that was not experienced outside of it. I knew that God was leading me to be a teacher. I was overjoyed. My family was excited. I finally knew what I was going to do! I knew I would be teaching in the Greensboro, NC area after I graduated.
 
In addition to this, I was seriously dating a guy and had just joined a Church in the area where I was beginning to experience an incredible community. I was thrilled to finally be finishing my college career and beginning to start planting roots somewhere.
 
Oh how often I try to plan what I think my life should look like and how it should go.

Proverbs 16:9

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

The guy that I was dating and I broke up at the beginning of my spring semester of senior year. My family started to fall apart, literally, and I was beginning student teaching. Needless to say, that semester was going to be a constant fight for joy and hope in the Lord. However, the Lord was so incredibly kind in what He was doing in my life.
 
Little did I know, He was setting the stage for me to get connected to Global Education Ministries (GEM).

Global Education Ministries 

They are a ministry that is based out of Wilmington, NC that believes that education is an incredible tool to get the Gospel of Jesus Christ into communities that do not have access to Him. They plant schools with teachers and staff who are passionate about making much of Jesus through their work. Their first, and largest, school is located in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. It houses almost 200 students that are in Pre-K through 9th grade.
 
So how do I fit into this?
God so graciously has called me to be a 2nd-grade teacher at Centro Educativo el Manantial for the next two years.
I get to partner with a community of people that want to make Jesus known through their work, and I have the chance to take part in it. I get to be a very small part of what God is doing throughout the world in a country that is not my own. It is a privilege to know God because of Jesus’ work on the cross, as He took the punishment I deserved so that I could be made right before a perfect and holy God. It is humbling and exciting to be joining this team.
 
If I would have had it my way, I would be doing something far different than this, but luckily, God had established my steps, not me. I will strive to faithfully walk in the way that He has called me to walk, as I seek to know more of God and make Him known.
 
God is so kind to His people.

-Rachel Hill, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Rachel 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!

The Works of God

Last July, our family of seven moved to Mexico to join Global Education Ministries as overseas missionaries at the Manantial School. We became immersed in a culture that was so foreign to us that it left us clawing for some form of familiarity and identity. Our response to this feeling was to get to “work”.

We sought to make things happen that were not yet ready to happen. We would overreach our mandate, attempt a shallow form of evangelism, or try to perfect some part of our jobs. The level of activity was extremely pressured and I felt manic…wanting to see everything happen NOW. Praise God He didn’t let us stay there long.

My wife suddenly got shingles on her face, and this sickness led to some of the hardest weeks of our lives. All of our work and striving came to a screeching halt for two full weeks, while my wife was bedridden. I mostly stayed home and cared for her and the children. It forced me to pray constantly and to begin calling upon God more fully.

I would equate this time in our lives to a car getting four simultaneous flat tires right as it hit the gas to plunge over a huge cliff. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that this trial would save us before we could wreck everything. This situation, along with several other exceedingly difficult trials to follow, began new humbling in our hearts.

In the midst of the suffering and difficulty, God gave me a treasure of a verse to help me through, even as I thought I was doing “God’s work” as a missionary going 90 miles an hour to press “His” agenda. In the gospel of John, right after Jesus fed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish and then walked on water, Jesus explains that He is the bread of life. At this point, Jesus really has the ear of the disciples after what they have witnessed. The disciples, who are completely intrigued by this miracle man, ask Jesus this question, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” And Jesus answered them, “this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

This verse put me right in my place. I had been seeking to “do” the work of God, but I was not resting and believing. On the surface, I would have told you I believed more strongly than before, but I deceived myself and believed a lie. A dominant thought current running through many of us Christians is that the more we DO God’s work, the more loved we are….that somehow we can earn God’s love and favor.

99% of evangelical pastors, leaders, and missionaries would agree that we can’t earn God’s love…but it’s a different thing to think something than to live and rest in it.   Our human drift is towards capitalism, whereby we seek to achieve, succeed or win with relationships or the market for our purposes, comfort, or increase.

Do you strive to make things right? Do you work tirelessly to be the cause of the desired fruitfulness in your life? Do you try hard to escape the suffering you so fear? OR…Do you, at your core, rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Do you, at your core, know that your human efforts are spiritually fruitless? Do you, at your core, see suffering as the means by which you are cleansed, disciplined, and crafted into His image?

Do not work for the food, results, status, or material that perishes, but believe in Jesus who God sent to free you and give you all that you will ever need in Him. See what happens when you are transformed to let your work be to believe. Let your new sweat be envisioning what Godly result you want for your friends in His name. Let your new mission be to cry out to Him, in belief for your family’s deliverance.   Let your new craft be to ask and believe God for business effectiveness, gospel witness, and a prosperous rejoicing in His name. Let your new trade be to believe in God’s promises for your church by seeing Jesus lifted up and your members unified, sanctified, and witnessing to the power of the gospel.

When you find yourself looking to yourself for effectiveness, change this focus into examining yourself solely to see how you and your thoughts are hindering belief in what was accomplished at the cross and then agree to simply rest in that finished work. Do you believe it is finished? Rest and pray. He is faithful. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24


704631_10207139802147916_4018787005924459280_oRob and his wife, Mauri, were married in 2004 and have been blessed with 5 children (2 biological and 3 adopted). Rob has a Master of Education degree in Counseling and Development from Winthrop University. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor, who also has many years experience teaching children of all ages. Rob is currently serving as the 7th grade Bible teacher and School Counselor at The Manantial School in Mexico.