Next month, I am super-excited to be going on a mission trip to Peru. Published below is an online version of the letter I wrote describing the long journey it has been to get me to this point.
God the Persistent Gardener
A seed is planted. In December of 2001, after a semester studying abroad in Central America, Kim returned home with stories of her adventures--and a brochure from an organization called Engineering Ministries International (EMI) which she thought might interest me.
The seed germinates. In May of 2001 Kim and I were married. Influenced by her contagious passion for the other half of the Americas, I was quickly dreaming alongside her of points south. Within the first few years of our marriage we traveled together to Costa Rica, Peru, and twice to Mexico as we soaked in some of the diverse cultures and spectacular sites of Latin America.
The plant grows. In the spring of 2004 while studying for my Master of Architecture at the Yale, I took a class called Modern Architecture & Urbanism in Latin America where I was introduced to the diverse world of Modern architecture in Central and South America. I quickly fell in love with that region of the world even more through the study of its built environment.
The plant is pruned, shaped, refined. In the fall of 2004 while doing research for a class, I stumbled upon Rio de Janeiro’s Favela-Bairro (slum to neighborhood) program, which used architectural interventions as a catalyst for change in some of the most infamous slums in the western hemisphere. As a young architect in school, I had always dreamed of big and famous architecture, but this opened my eyes to small architecture making very real contributions to communities. I started to wonder, was work like this to be in my future?
The harvest day approaches. In February of 2010, a good friend of mine traveled on an EMI mission trip to Africa. Upon his return, I was encouraged to hear about the way God was working in that part of the world through a simple group of architects and engineers. I decided to contact EMI to express my interest in finding out about their work in Latin America.
Harvest time has arrived! EMI is “a Christian ministry that designs facilities that serve the poor in developing countries. These facilities . . . directly impact communities by meeting physical needs and communicating God's love in a practical way.” EMI brings together professional architects and engineers to provide their clients—local in-country organizations or individuals—with the highest level of design services possible. Since EMI’s inception, they have been active in more than 80 countries with more than 800 completed projects.
In February of 2011, I will be serving in Peru for 10 days with an EMI team designing the master plan, dormitories, and a church for a new seminary campus—the Seminario Evangélico Bautista Independiente del Cusco (SEBIC)—in Urubamba, near the city of Cusco. To learn about the particular project where I will be serving, click here.
Why Serve in This Way?
I have always been moved by the passage from Luke’s gospel where Jesus says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). It is a convicting piece of scripture to be sure, but it reminds me not to take the relationships, passions, and things of this life for granted, and to remember that “every good an perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). The truth is that I have been given much in this life: a passion for Christ, a passion for Latin America, a passion for architecture; an incredible wife, beautiful children, a loving family; a job that helps provide for all the things my family needs, and many, many of the things we want . . .
Ultimately, though, I have been given the greatest gift of all in the salvation available to me through Christ’s own sacrifice of his life on the cross. Because of this, I am expected—nay, demanded!—to give back to the Lord from the abundance of abilities, passions, gifts, and resources he has graciously bestowed upon me in this life.
Would You Help, Too?
I am very excited about my upcoming trip to Peru as it lies, like a divinely orchestrated Venn diagram, squarely at the intersection of so many of my passions and interests. I would be incredibly grateful if you would help me embark on this long-anticipated journey by lifting up the trip in your prayers. The trip will be from February 18th through the 28th. Would you commit to praying for me and the rest of the EMI team during that time as we serve the Lord in Peru? In addition, the trip will cost me approximately $2,800. Would you prayerfully consider supporting me financially on this mission? If you feel led to support me in this way, you may make a tax-deductible donation directly to EMI either by check or online. If you prefer to donate via check, please follow the instructions on EMI's website (click here) being sure to my name on the commitment card. If you prefer to donate online using EMI’s secure donation page (click here), please write “James Fullton, Project #7089 SEBIC, Peru” in the “Designation” field so the funds are correctly credited to my account.
I still have that original EMI brochure in my sock drawer, and I have looked at it many times in the past nine years, never quite able to throw it away. Looking back now, it is amazing to me how God worked slowly but faithfully through many different avenues to bring me to this point of being able to serve him in this capacity. From a simple curiosity emerging out of my wife’s own interests, Kim’s and my joint love for Latin America has now even been physically grafted into our family through the adoption of our four beautiful children from Brazil in 2009. I am really looking forward to using my passion for architecture and design in order to give back in some simple way to a part of the world that has, over the past decade, captured my heart so fully.
Yours in Christ,