In Colombia’s La Playa slum community, Karen Justice received more than she gave.

by Karen Justice

It has been a true privilege to travel with my husband, children, and close friends on various medical missions trips throughout the years. It is a very special way to spend time together, working on projects, experiencing new cultures, and making new friends.

The Colombia Medical trip with International Needs was an excellent opportunity to see the work of Christ in action with my husband Jeff, my daughter Lauren, and two couples who are lifelong family friends.

Although I have no medical background, I was able to be a part of the medical clinic as a support person. Everyone involved was so gracious—patiently waiting for service and smiling through small glitches.

In fact, I would say that grace is the thing that made the deepest impression on me during our time in Colombia. It was hard to feel like we were offering anything, as the residents continued to out-give us by offering special meals, hugs, and even a welcome reception sponsored by the women of the church.

One afternoon, I took a quick tour of the impoverished neighborhood served by the La Rosa de Saron School. I was moved by the very difficult circumstances these people face but also by how, despite the difficulties, these friends found so many ways to bless us.

The more stories I heard, the more I realized that La Playa is a place in which Christ is honored and is actively working all the time. It seemed like everyone had a dramatic story of God’s powerful and personal intervention in his or her lives.

By watching the school and church workers interact, I also came to understand that successful ministries like these are fueled by relationship and trust.

These have been nurtured in Colombia through International Needs’ hard work over many years.The

Karen with husband Jeff and Colombian children
Karen with husband Jeff and Colombian children

result is blessed men, women, and children who are coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It was a great experience to get to see this firsthand.

I am trying to apply some of the lessons I learned in Colombia here at home. We don’t have such a shortage of money here as we saw in Colombia, but there is always an opportunity to give beyond our comfort level. There is always an opportunity to step out in faith, and always an opportunity to make someone feel welcome. I hope I never forget that.