Lessons from SHINE

by Bev Brenneise

Being a SHINE team member enriches your understanding of other cultures, while also teaching you the importance of following God’s words.

I volunteered for SHINE on its second mission — to Guatemala. Since then, I have worked more than ten years on the SHINE board, helped prepare annual missions, wrote about and photographed missions for Bible Advocate articles, and prepared media presentations. I learned many lessons.

Being on a mission trip changes you. You become part of a group helping needy individuals with medical, dental, and spiritual problems, sharing God’s love. You see how small acts of kindness impact others. You are among awesome people.

On a different level, though, you become more aware of America’s blessings. You appreciate running water, paved streets, floors in houses and buildings, sanitation, being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet instead of depositing it into a bucket.

When I returned to the United States after the Guatemala mission, I remember driving home via Madison Avenue in Sacramento, California. I looked out the window and saw a not particularly attractive street. No unique architecture stood out.

“Wow,” I quietly murmured, “what a beautiful street!” There were no steel bars protecting the windows of the shops and homes we passed, nor high gates and walls topped with razor wires surrounding the hotels and motels. Garbage was not strewn everywhere. It was clean, safe, inviting — typical America.

Despite these blessings, team members often enjoy their mission experiences so much that they continue volunteering. Special fellowship bonds beckon you.

Though SHINE team members commit themselves to kingdom work, they are not immune to life’s pitfalls. Some of them suffered misfortunes. I believe that Satan, displeased with the mission’s success, especially began attacking team members as the 2009 Honduras mission concluded. Team members experienced depression. One or two individuals were diagnosed with diabetes — with no prior family history of this. Going home, one mission doctor received word that her son had unexpectedly died. Another person arrived home to find her father in a medical crisis in which he too died. SHINE team members were being targeted.

The Bible tells us to grow through these times. James 1:2-4 says:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (NKJV throughout).

I learned a big lesson during the Jamaica mission.

Different people had shared their problems, and I began testifying how Satan was attacking SHINE. The doctor whose son had died cried out. Chagrined, I abruptly stopped my testimony. I regret that I stopped, but I didn’t want to hurt her further. Then she herself stepped up and shared with the Jamaican people about her son’s death and how the Lord had been there for her.

Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” By not sharing about Satan’s attacks and God’s blessings, I was not doing God’s will. He wants us to share what He’s doing in our lives. I should have completed my testimony about how SHINE’s success was consequently causing Satan to attack team members. This is what happens to Christians. By enduring Satan’s assaults, we grow stronger. People do watch SHINE’s team members to see what happens and how we respond. We need to be reporters of God’s works.

I have seen the same lesson reflected in testimonies of other team members — the need to share what we see God do.

Maritza Ochoa migrated to the US following the Sandanista wars in Nicaragua. Her husband was killed in those wars for being a businessman who spoke English, and he left her with three young children. In California years later (2008) Maritza saw a SHINE video of the Nicaragua mission and felt led to join our 2009 Honduras team.

She says, “In every mission that God has allowed me to serve, I have been a witness as God has manifested [Himself] in the lives of the people we serve. . . . I have learned to share what God gives me . . . [it] is a great privilege to share God.”

On the Honduras mission, Maritza took a plate of food to a nine-year-old malnourished boy. The boy first offered it to his mother instead, because she had been two days without eating. She had given him her food eight hours earlier.

Deborah Crayton, a nurse from New York, remembers a young lady who came to the Belize mission, but couldn’t walk. Seeing her husband and father in a fistfight had traumatized her, and her legs were floppy when she was wheeled into the clinics. Prayer and treatment were given, and ultimately she pushed her own wheelchair from the clinics.

Miriam Morales, another team member, experienced unexpected belligerence and assault when entering Colombia for SHINE’s February 2016 mission. An airport luggage scan revealed a “gun, ” so she was pulled aside for interrogation. Having recently read about India’s persecution and killing of Christians, and now entering a country known for its rampant drug industry, she was afraid. Airport personnel questioned her about the contraband in her suitcases (medical instruments and supplies).

“You are in trouble!” they shouted. Miriam suffers from several medical conditions: lupus, fibromyalgia, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis. Sitting is difficult for her, and yet she was commanded to sit down and shut up. So she prayed, sat down, and was actually able to relax, despite the grueling, loud questioning that lasted about four hours.

Miriam was finally released and allowed to take her clothes and choose two instruments. She chose the gun-shaped otoscope and a glucometer. Her other medical supplies and gluco strips were confiscated.

“It was part of God’s plan for me to have faith and to please Him,” Miriam explains. “I have God in my mouth (prayer). I always pray to God for guidance, whether I should go on a mission.” Miriam has attended all but one mission and spends long, hard hours working at the clinics.

SHINE beckons young people to be involved. Three young Belize women, determined to break the gender educational barrier and become medical professionals, want to join SHINE. A thirteen-year-old New York boy made his first donation to SHINE several years ago and plans to work with the team. At the 2017 General Conference convention a fourteen-year-old girl who aspires to be a doctor was excited to learn about SHINE. Young people are SHINE’s future.

SHINE needs financial support to continue its missions. Sister Leonor Beard in El Paso, Texas, is 82 years old and has blessed SHINE with donations for the past five years. They are so appreciated! Won’t you share in supporting the Lord’s work?