Thursday, May 29, 2014

Women Making a Difference | Belinda Cruz: Missionary to Spain

Today, I want to introduce you to someone very special to me. Her name is Belinda, and she is my cousin (my Aunt Ruth's daughter). She is beautiful, intelligent (master's degree and is a licensed minister), and has always had a true heart for serving others. This year, Belinda is planning to head out to the mission field. 

Spain, to be exact.

I thought it would be wonderful to hear her story and for her to get to share her heart with us.

1. How long have you had the call to go to the mission field?
 
My call to full time ministry came first and then my call to missions, all during my last year in high school and throughout my college years. My plans were to become an international lawyer. I was a history/government major.

While serving as a camp counselor in a Christian summer youth camp, I received the call to full time ministry. I responded to the altar call during evening chapel service, committing my life entirely to His service, whatever that meant or whatever that looked like. I thought that I could use my future career, international law, as my ministry. But God had other plans for my life.
 
My missions call came a year or so later, while watching a missions update video during Sunday evening service. I started to cry for no apparent reason at all. The more I tried to stop crying, the harder I cried. I realized it was God. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, a ‘knowing’ that this is what God wanted for my life.  

I immediately acted on the prompting and took a short term missions trip for 2 months to El Salvador. When I returned home, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is what God was calling me to do. But human nature being fickle and – let’s be honest – disobedient, I tried to bargain with God regarding law school, even telling Him that I’d use my career to help missionaries. 

Another year or so passed, and  God got my attention again while I was sitting for the LSAT’s. The entire exam the Holy Spirit repeatedly told me, “You are not supposed to be here.” Leaving the exam, I finally died to my desire and submitted to His will. Soon after that encounter, I set out to prepare for full-time ministry, was accepted into a graduate ministry program at a seminary, and moved within weeks to Springfield, MO.
2. Why Spain?
I honestly thought that I would return to Latin America, specifically to El Salvador where I did my first missions trip. I had a heart for Hispanic peoples. In college I took Spanish courses and learned about the indigenous cultures, the countries, their histories, and their contributions to the world. The courses were primarily on the Latin American world and its Spanish language. There never was much emphasis on Spain itself, only its role in conquest. 
 
In seminary, one of my course pre-requisites was a practicum.  At that time, I had become extremely interested in Jews, Muslims and Gypsies. That was God’s doing.  Because of my interests, Spain was the natural place to do my practicum. In Spain, you find all three groups!  

I didn’t ever want my ‘natural desire’ to dominate what God’s Spirit desires, so I prayed about it and decided that if the Spain practicum didn’t open up, I would take the opportunity that God presented. It was a lesson on hearing and ”staying put” in your faith. Not wavering in what God was telling me. 

I learned that God also puts desires in your heart! There was an opportunity to work with a missionary doing Muslim ministry, but the Spain door had not closed yet. So I held on, and God did open the door to help a missionary couple in Zamora, Spain. The money was raised, and I was off to Spain.
Why Spain? Yes, the country is a beautiful place, but that didn’t decide it for me. It definitely wasn’t my 3 months practicum in Spain. My taste of what the missionaries encountered on a daily basis was small.  Being a missionary has it’s challenges. However, I cannot ignore or deny God called me. Bottom line, there are people in Spain, 98% to be exact, who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There are many who practice religious traditions, but we know that religious observances do not and cannot replace a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  There is no other way to the Father except through Jesus Christ.

Relationship is not about observation; relationship is about intimacy. With God’s help, that is what I and other missionaries set our hearts to do. Introduce people to a God who loves them, sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to die for them so they can have eternal life, and offers them an intimate relationship with Him right now.
 

3. When do you plan on leaving for the mission field?
 
I am projected to be in Spain by September. Once I receive my funds, I will be able to leave for Spain. I have two budgets to raise – pledges and cash. Many have given one-time gifts that have gone toward my cash budget. Right now, I have approximately 20% of my required monthly pledges. But I believe God to provide the 80% that is outstanding by September.
 
Faith is more than just hoping for a good outcome. Faith believes God will keep his promise, when your circumstances, lack of resources, people and the enemy himself try to take your focus off of God’s promise to you. Faith expectantly looks for the answer, the deliverance, the healing, the 'whatever’ you need and is promised to you by God. 

4. What will be the focus of your mission?
My focus will be church planting. I will be mentored by a couple who are currently church planting, helping them in whatever way I am asked and led to help. In fact, I was placed with the SAME missionaries that I did my practicum with in seminary – all God!  After my term with them, I plan to come back to the US and become a fully appointed missionary, raise funds for a 4 year term and plant a church myself.

5. You have always been pretty independent. Does being on another continent an ocean away from your family make you nervous in any way?
It doesn’t really make me nervous to be away from ‘home.’  Over the years I have been blessed to travel to countries in South America, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Europe. Every time I felt ‘safe’ and more at home than in the USA. Strange, right? God is always with me. I will miss family and friends.

6. What can we do here in the states that will help you in Spain?

Pray for me.  

Actively believe God with me for (and these are just a few):
·         Resources/Finances
·         People to support me on a monthly basis – need 80% more pledges
·         Good health
·         Unity with missionary and other believers
·         Relationships with Spaniards
·         Develop good friends
·         Favor in the community
·         Opportunities to share the love of Christ
·         God to do the miraculous in people’s live I meet and touch
·         Protection physically and spiritually
·         Strength
·         My relationship with God would become deeper and stronger
·         Future church planting team members
 
Prayerfully consider supporting me on a monthly basis.  If God prompts you to support me and the work, you can make your commitment and pledge by typing my name Belinda Cruz in the search box through the following the link: https://giving.ag.org 

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