Back ICU nurse sells plants in order to serve in the slums of Rio this summer
September 14th, 2012
We're a going and sending church because Jesus told us to be. It's our calling. It's our responsibility. That's why we send more than 30 teams out around the world to serve every year—and summer is the prime time to go.
One of the nineteen mission journeys that went out this summer ventured into the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to host a medical clinic. Janel Roach was on that trip as a first-timer.
Before the Trip
Janel first heard about the trip a few years ago from veteran Brazil journeyer Raja O'Brien. Then, in February of this year, she and her husband became members of Brentwood Baptist, were baptized, and joined a Bible study.
Brazil kept coming up in conversation. At dinner one evening, one of her friends, who's a new Christian, explained how much she'd like to go on a mission journey. According to Janel, she kept thinking: She's willing to go, so what's stopping me?
As a full-time student, in addition to working full-time in ICU, Janel didn't think she had the time for it and began to wonder how she was going to raise the money to go.
"Later that week, a friend reminded me, 'You have so many wonderful things going on. Don't forget Who created time, and Who can supply your needs.' I think that's a testimony to anyone to be bold enough to talk about missions and encourage action, even if they don't think the other person is willing or interested."
Getting to Brazil
Janel loves gardening, so much so that she began to worry how she was going to find the time to plant her garden before the trip and pay for her way there. She began to pray about it and, in keeping with the theme, God planted a seed in her own heart and mind.
"I began to think that perhaps I could still get my plants this year and maybe choose some for my coworkers and friends to buy too—and use that as part of my fundraising. I took the idea and began asking around. And, honestly, everyone I spoke with said, 'No, thank you.'"
But she wasn't going to give up that easy. Janel and her husband drove three hours to her favorite farm and filled their car with hundreds of plants.
"I was so nervous that I would never sell them. I'd gone way overboard, but my husband said, 'You know, I have a feeling you'll sell every one of them and we'll be coming back to get more.'"
The next day at work, she told her co-workers what she'd done, hauled the plants into the break room, and left them there to attend to her patients in ICU. Within a few hours, half of the plants were gone and money was left in their place.
You probably don't even need to guess what happened next. She did have to go back to the farm and restock—TWICE. And the profit made was enough to pay for her way to Brazil.
"The most amazing part is that the whole hospital helped send me. People who may never have contributed to a mission trip were a part of this journey, even if they only bought $5 worth of plants. There was no end to people asking me about Brazil and missions. And they thought about what they were a part of every time they saw their beautiful flowers. Amazing, right?"
On the Ground in Rio
Leading up to the trip, Janel experience some unique spiritual moments—especially since this was her very first mission journey.
What she did at the clinic fell right in line with what God gifted her to do in her everyday job. She said, "I joke that we did 'everything' there because we did. It makes it sound harder than it was, but it's easy to do whatever you can when you know you're the only one who can or will for someone."
It was a trip of firsts: learning what people do on mission journeys; injecting herself into a new culture; being the hands and feet of Christ to the least of these; and welcoming her mom (who's also a nurse) aboard to serve alongside her.
"I cannot describe how beautiful it is to see a loved one share the gospel with others—especially a parent. I was moved to tears thinking about how much my mom loved me when she shared those same words with me when I was a child. … It has certainly done wonderful things for our relationship and let us see each other differently—as sisters in Christ just as much as a mother and daughter."
After the Trip
Janel says she walked away with so much that she sometimes doesn't have the words to describe what happened there.
"This is one part of how Brazil has changed my perspective on God's people. Looking back, I think I'd treated sharing the gospel with strangers as a duty or something I had to get comfortable with because I was supposed to…"
Brazil changed everything for her. She said evangelism came alive and morphed into something "exhilarating, beautiful, powerful, genuine, loving, and urgent."
"It became a divine appointment with a stranger that I couldn't miss. Those are the feelings you bring home. I think that's what people mean when they say you'll never be the same again."