Sometimes, showing grace when it is challenging is the best way to share the gospel. Chile missionary Stephanie Garcia was reminded of this at a recent women’s ministry retreat.
After months of preparing and praying for a smooth and meaningful retreat, Stephanie and her group arrived at their hotel and quickly discovered numerous maintenance problems. Rooms had not been vacated or cleaned, toilets were leaking, a shower curtain was missing, and to top it off, there was no hot water. It was a huge disappointment. The cost of the retreat had been a financial sacrifice for some of the women, but Stephanie had hoped it would prove worth the expense.
“Humanly speaking, it was frustrating to run into this after months of planning. We were just hoping for everything to be perfect,” said Stephanie.
There was great temptation to be impatient and indignant with Sylvia, the woman in charge of doing all the hotel’s upkeep. She seemed harried, exhausted and somewhat short-tempered despite the group’s plight.
While it would have been easier to rebuke Sylvia for the hotel’s issues, one of the women at the retreat took it upon herself to assist Sylvia with her duties by helping her make beds in one of the rooms. Soon, other women began showing the same grace to Sylvia by helping her out when they could. They even invited her to participate in the retreat as she was able.
“These gestures of servanthood and kindness softened Sylvia’s heart,” said Stephanie.
Throughout the weekend, several women took time to personally share the message of salvation with her. On the last day of the retreat, their words and acts of grace sank in, and Sylvia put her trust in Jesus.
“How different the outcome might have been if we had responded in our flesh to those early inconveniences,” Stephanie said. “Instead, there was rejoicing in Heaven—and at our retreat!”