Gabriel García Valdivieso (also credited as Gabriel Sarmiento) is the editor of Conéctate, the Spanish edition of Activated. He is a translator, interpreter, writer and poet, and has lived on three continents as a volunteer missionary with the Family International.
“In the world of pain there is a need for love, a real, real need for love… Love your brother… a need of love, a need of heart.” These words, translated from the famous song by the Colombian singer Juanes, paint a picture of humanity’s universal need for love.1 “Everybody needs love” rang out another song from the sixties.2 And with the countless social conflicts, outbreaks of violence, cries of outrage, the scourge of the pandemic, along with the “viruses” of selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-service and other diseases of our times, what we need most is love.
In my quest to know Jesus better, I have come to the simple conclusion that reading the Gospels regularly and trying to put His teachings and example into practice is the easiest and most accessible way to do that. So for the last few years, I’ve been reading a devotional that features a text from the Gospels for every day of the year. If I thought I already knew the Gospels well, this exercise completely ousted that idea! Almost every day, I am surprised, unsettled, convicted, inspired, and moved by the words and deeds of the Master.
When it comes to the environment and climate change, it’s easy to mentally block out the topic entirely and decide that there’s nothing we can do about it—or foist the responsibility on someone else, relieving ourselves of the obligation. But God gave us the responsibility to take care of His creation, not just out of duty, but out of love for Him and His creatures. “The Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.”1 That’s the main factor that has motivated me to be more ecologically mindful.
G. K. Chesterton once said, “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose, new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.”1
In his book A Year of Living Prayerfully, Jared Brock describes in a humorous but poignant way his journey around the world to discover and explore how different believers pray—their practices, methods, habits, and styles. More than compile a list of techniques, he wanted to experience prayer in full from different perspectives and denominational outlooks. So he and his wife dedicated an entire year to the task.
The other day, I found myself sitting in a restaurant alone, as my friend was running late. As I waited, I decided to jot down some thoughts about what Jesus means to me and what I love most about Him. This is what I came up with:
At the heart of Christmas is the Child of Bethlehem, who was born into this often cold, hostile world to warm us with His heavenly Father’s love. It was a child who began the first Christmas celebration, and it is children who keep it alive in their own special ways.
Not long ago, some friends of ours wanted to move to another country to explore new work possibilities and be closer to their family. Though they had countless difficulties throughout their preparations, including a last-minute complication at the airport, with the support of friends and the power of prayer, their move was a success. They reached their goal and now are trying their wings on new horizons. I’ve often told my friends and acquaintances who long to travel or live some other dream: put your desires in God’s hands, because He knows your heart and delights to see you happy.
The 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, had some truly exciting moments. Athletes from 28 sports and 41 disciplines amazed us with their talent, audacity, perseverance, and physical and mental prowess. Yet, in my opinion, there was an aspect of these Olympic competitions that shone even brighter than the medals—the role that faith played in the lives and sports careers of many of the participants.
Not long ago, when we checked our credit card statement after buying an airline ticket, we discovered that the airline had charged us twice. We contacted the airline in the hope of correcting the error right away to avoid the charge and interest that it would incur. After three futile and time-consuming phone calls to the company’s call center, we felt irritated and helpless. Then we called our bank and were advised to block the credit card until we could find a solution.