Bridges speaker touches on mission work in Peru

Benedictine student Kayla Johnson working with volunteers from all over the world to build more stairs so that people living in this community are able to access their home in a safe manner.  Photo by Alejo Molina.

By Mary Elsen, The Circuit.

Benedictine’s Ministry Team offers many international mission trips in the spring, one of which takes students to Peru to work with the Bridges organization.

On Sept. 9, Ministry welcomed Alejo Molina, the head of Bridges, to speak about his work with the poor in Pamplona, Peru.

Molina explained that the goal of Bridges is to bring people together, to help those who are in need by giving them more dignity and to bring them Christ’s love.

Originally from Columbia, Molina began the Bridges project in 2010 and is now a consecrated member of the Catholic religious order The Christian Life Movement. When he joined, he initially planned to dedicate his life to serving in parishes but ended up answering God’s call to serve the poor.

Molina touched on the difference between living a virtuous life and living a life loving others.  He pulled up 1 Corinthians 13 – The Canticle of Love – to demonstrate his point.

“You have to love,” he said.  “A life without love means nothing and that’s what I realized after many years. I was striving to be a good person, to live a life of very beautiful virtues, but I was not loving.”

A big problem in our world today is that people are too focused on themselves, instead of the common good of everyone, he said.

Molina pulled up Google Maps, satellite view, to show students the difference between living at Benedictine and living in the slums of Pamplona.

He explained that most residents in Pamplona live in small houses made of plywood walls with a tin roof and have to have water delivered to them via trucks.

To contrast those living in poverty, Molina scrolled along Google Maps to an area full of nice houses.  The tiny plywood houses of the poor run up to a wall called the Wall of Shame.  On the other side sits a nice neighborhood, with some houses that are worth millions, Molina said.

While mission trips may not be the most efficient way to spend money to help the poor, Molina believes they are the most effective.

“What these people need the most is not just money,” he said.  “[They] need someone to go there [to Peru] and tell them ‘You are important.’ You can’t change the world in general, but you can change somebody’s life.”

Molina showed videos and had students share their testimonies about their time with Bridges.

In an interview, junior Mollie Ambuul shared her story of going on a mission trip with Bridges through Benedictine during spring 2017.

“[Bridges] is a really cool concept because it’s something that you can even take back home,” Ambuul said.  “It’s something that taught me how to live my life in America differently and with more purpose and perspective.”

While in Peru, Ambuul was struck that despite the poverty level in the area the group worked in, the people were just like any other people.

“I think your dignity and your sense of worthiness comes from your ability to love other people,” she said.

Molina mimics Ambuul in saying that mission trips are a great way to learn to love.

“Mission trips are a boot camp, where our heart just pumps so big and so loud, that we actually are able to experience a stretching out so we can love others.”