Twelve years ago I sat in church listening to a missionary talk about things she had experienced as she served Christ in an Asian country. As I listened to her talk about miracle after miracle, I thought to myself, “I want to be part of that. I want to witness those kinds of miracles.” That’s when I made the decision to join the team, smuggling Bibles into a country closed to the gospel. And that decision changed the trajectory of my life (and not because I was arrested in said country.)
My husband didn’t accompany me on that trip. He was worried about that whole ending-up-in-prison possibility. However, he did suggest a few months later that we go together on a mission trip to Africa. I DID NOT want to go to Africa! EVER! I’d heard about the snakes, scorpions, and mosquitoes that could rival anything I’d ever seen in Minnesota. But, with a little encouragement from God (because no one else was going to talk me into going), I went.
I sat next to my husband at dinner during that trip and heard him say to one of the missionaries that he loved being on this trip and that from here on out we were going to go on a mission trip every year. (Am I the only one who learns things about her husband’s plans while he’s sharing them with someone else?)
By the way, though there are mosquitoes in Africa, they aren’t everywhere. In fact, in my five trips to the continent, I’ve seen one mosquito, never a scorpion, and only one snake, which I stepped over on my way down the path (which was a little scary but made me feel very brave).
Since that time, we’ve worked with orphans in Russia, Kenya, and Swaziland, helped with eye exams in South Africa, ministered to prostitutes in Switzerland, and helped with projects in Cyprus, Estonia, and Morocco. I’ve also gone on three trips specifically for women to share the gospel.
Actually, sharing the gospel is ALWAYS the mission, whether we’re smuggling in Bibles, feeding hungry kids, or putting on a game day for teens. It’s funny, no one ever questions us when we go to a place like Africa because they know there is a massive amount of need there, but when we go to a European country, friends sometimes wonder—out-loud—what the need is in Europe. The need EVERYWHERE is Jesus! If you are in Africa, you feed them before you tell them about Jesus because no one can hear about Jesus over the ache of an empty stomach. In European countries we work with local missionaries to help build relationships with the local people. It’s through relationships that people see Christ and hear the gospel.
I’d like to tell you that because of our efforts hundreds of people have come to know Christ personally. But that wouldn’t be the truth—at least not as far as I know. While I have prayed with at least one little girl to receive Christ as her savior, I’ve come home from many trips wondering if what I did made a difference. But I know that every time I play games with a teen, serve waffles to people at a church event, or spend an afternoon with refugees, I’m sowing seeds. God takes it from there.
The thing I love about going on a global mission trip is how it changes me. The world gets smaller, my prayers are more focused, and I’m more tolerant of other people’s customs. I feel incredibly grateful for all that God has done in and through me. And, I’m blessed to have seen so much of the world.
One of my favorite mission trip by-products is the privilege to pray for specific people. There is a little Asian boy I pray for every time he comes to mind. Because of his circumstances, it’s not likely he’d ever get introduced to a life in Christ . . . BUT GOD. There is an Iranian family we met in a refugee camp. They too, aren’t likely to encounter a life-changing relationship with Christ . . . BUT GOD. And there’s an orphan boy in Russia, whose future looks rather bleak . . . BUT GOD. God is the only one who can fix any of the circumstances in these people’s lives. And through global missions he’s invited me to be a part of the miracle. And that right there is why I’ve gone on every single trip I’ve ever taken. What a privilege!
I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us next.
“And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone,” Mark 16:15 (NLT).
Want to hear about some of the missions work Bridging the Gap is involved in firsthand? Attend our Garden Coffee this Saturday! Get all the details here.