In his travels throughout Latin America, church planter and church connector Tom Yaccino is constantly learning from those with whom he comes in contact.
On Thursday, Yaccino, who serves with the organization Del Camino Connection, shared some of those lessons with students at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Yaccino was the guest speaker in chapel during Missions Emphasis Week.
In the Dominican Republic, a young man named Robert Guerrero overcame a troubled past to start a church for neighborhood youth in his living room, Yaccino said. “What he taught us is that God has called us, His people, to carry out His mission of reconciliation. The church is called to be God’s primary instrument of transformation in the world,” Yaccino said.
Rev. Rene August, a friend who serves as an Anglican priest in the Cape Town area of South Africa, offered another lesson, Yaccino said. As she encounters people in difficult living conditions, she views them not as poor people, but as people who are in conditions of poverty, he said.
“She sees them as Jesus sees us,” he said. “It’s an incredible way to change the way we think about missions. We’re not going out to do stuff for people. We’re not even going out to do stuff among people, but to be with people, like Jesus is with us.”
Another friend who pastors a large church in Costa Rica offered yet another lesson, he said. The church underwent a rebirth and now offers a host of outreach services to the disabled, elderly, women and others in need.
“He has taught me to see that every need in our communities, every problem area that we tend to run away from, is an opportunity for us to go and share God’s love, and be the salt and light like Jesus calls us to be,” Yaccino said.
Yaccino also spoke about his friend Sean Stillman, who is active in the Wales chapter of the church of motorcyclists known as the God Squad. “They taught me that church sometimes looks a little different,” Yaccino said.
God has used these people to help change his perspective, Yaccino said. That’s why Missions Emphasis Week is so important, he said.
“PBA is giving you an opportunity to go and partner with God’s people all over the world who are reaching out to real needs and real contexts that can teach you more about God,” he said. “Our understanding, our perspectives of God and His kingdom here on earth grow as we come into contact with these incredible heroes of the faith.”
In addition to speaking in chapel this week, Yaccino took part in an on-campus missions celebration, spoke in classes and had dinner with mission team leaders. Also, students could visit a prayer labyrinth this week on the second floor of the Lassiter Student Center.
Missions Emphasis Week concludes today with a special screening of the movie “Dispatches from the Front” at 7 p.m. in the DeSantis Family Chapel. The event is open to the PBA community.