By Mayan Bustamente
My earliest memories revolve around growing up in a Christian home in Mexico, where my grandfather was a pastor. From that early age, my life was marked by seeing all the missionaries who came to visit my grandfather’s church. Though only four years old, I remember hearing my mother pray for me. Her prayers were very specific; she asked God to give us the opportunity to come to the United States, so I could learn English and one day translate for the missionaries who visited our church. God heard her prayer.
In the fall of 2001, Rick Bowling asked my father to plant a church in Norman Park, Georgia. I said goodbye to my family and friends in Mexico to start something new. At the time, I was very excited to meet new people and learn more English. I remember when I first arrived at Cool Springs FWB Church. Everyone was nice and friendly, and I was really happy. Our church grew fast—from 80 to 300 people in only three years. I missed my family in Mexico, but I was very grateful our church members treated me like family.
After three and a half years at Roca de Salvacion Georgia, Rick Bowling called my father again and told him about the need of a Hispanic church in Effingham, South Carolina. My parents visited Lebanon FWB Church a couple of times, to see the area and visit the Hispanic population. As always, my father prayed about it, and when God answered, he told me we were moving. This was the first time I was really upset about moving. I remember being angry! I had already left my family in Mexico, and now he wanted me to leave my new family and friends. I had only begun to feel at home in Georgia.
When I told my father how I felt, he said, “When God calls, we go.” I found myself in the same position I had three years earlier. I had to start over again in a new school, with new people, in a place where I did not know anyone.
God, in His mercy and grace, put me in a good Christian school with incredible people. This time, everything was hard, and I mean hard in the ministry and hard in school for me. We traveled back and forth every other weekend to Georgia so my dad could preach while the new pastor settled in. We drove home from Georgia late on Sunday night and arrived in South Carolina around three or four in the morning. Because I had to go to school first thing Monday morning, I was always tired in school. The ministry was also very difficult. While my parents worked hard to get people to come to our new church, at the time, the Hispanic community was very small.
During these years, I missed my family in Mexico more than any other time. My grandmother and grandfather passed away, and I was unable to see them. I have always enjoyed being an only child, but during this time of my life, I missed my family so much that I wanted a sibling. One day, while praying, God answered and said to me, “You see all these people around you, all the people that your parents have reached; they are your family; they are your brothers and sisters.”
During this time, starting around age 16, the Lord began to open doors for me to translate on mission trips. I remembered my mother’s prayer. God never forgets, and in His right time, He always answers our prayers. I fell in love with mission trips, and I knew God was calling me into missions. I could see this was no longer about my parents’ ministry. God was giving me my own ministry.
I never felt “normal” because of my parents’ work. I have always felt people had a higher standard for me. The way people looked at me, what people expected from me—it made me feel miserable sometimes. Often, church planters’ kids have an indescribable yearning just to be normal, to belong. Now, I can tell you I am okay not being normal because God has blessed me incredibly. His mercy and grace have been indescribable. He continues to teach me that I belong, and I belong to Him. Just as my parents followed wherever He called them to go, it is now the same for me. When he calls, I will follow.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work for North American Ministries (NAM). I know God allows things to happen so we can grow and learn and be ready for His blessings. After I met David Crowe, director of NAM, three years ago, he gave me the opportunity to travel on different mission trips to translate for him. Not only has it been an honor to translate the words of wisdom God has given him, but also to learn from someone with a great passion for God.
It also has been an honor to be part of Rick Bowling’s life. Seeing how he serves the Lord nonstop inspires me to continue fighting for the Hispanic community. I am grateful for my parents and their example and all the wisdom God gave them to instruct me in the Lord’s path. Their prayers and their teachings have made me into the woman I am today.
So yes, the ministry life is hard, yet is 100% the best thing parents can offer their children!
About the Writer: Mayan Bustamante, along with her parents, Fernando and Reyna, are currently serving North American Ministries in South Carolina. Mayan is the chief translation specialist for NAM.