In 2009, my wife and I took our first trip to Jamaica to serve with ACE. I recall our uncertainty on the long roller coaster ride from Montego Bay to Galina Breeze, survived only by the assistance of Dramamine. The main highway looks a lot better now than it did back then! We didn’t know what to expect or if we were even qualified to be there. We sat down by ourselves at a table in the corner – exhausted and questioning our sanity. A wide-eyed, recently married couple in our mid-twenties, we must have looked quite pitiful at our table surrounded by empty chairs.

A lady we did not know joined us. She sat down, introduced herself and we found ourselves having dinner with the founder of ACE. Through the course of our meal, we heard her origin story of how she found herself in Jamaica to begin with and how ACE had come to be. For some reason that I still don’t understand, at the end of our conversation I told her, “Well, we are in!”

Anyone who has served with ACE knows that there is a presence of the Holy Spirit there that is both palpable and beyond comprehension. Even though I didn’t entirely understand what I was saying in that moment, the Holy Spirit was pulling us in and making it clear that we were a part of this now. It took one meal and less than an hour.

Fast-forward to 2024 and we had the privilege of serving with ACE on a combined medical and dental team from February 3-10. The team consisted of doctors, nurses, dentists, hygienists, and servants from multiple states and even New Zealand.

Aches and pains, high blood pressure, diabetes, and dental abscesses were the primary diagnoses for the week and a multitude of patients were served with both medical but also spiritual care. In turn, the team was cared for with gratitude and the occasional gift of fruit from our patients. I always leave for home after a week in Jamaica feeling as though I had received much more than I could give.

However, the theme for the week was that of Hope, both present and future. I saw ACE staff that had grown and become leaders. I saw multiple generations of families serving together, including a dentist and her daughter, a physician and his family, a nurse with her son and a pastor from a church looking to establish a relationship with ACE for the first time.

I thought of Psalm 127: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” ACE family, your labor has not been in vain. The Lord has built this house! He brought up the founding generation of ACE, and he is bringing up the next generation to carry the mission forward. If you find yourself alone at the dinner table surrounded by empty chairs and wondering where you fit in, this is your invitation. God wants you in as well!

Josh & Jess Klepinger