So way back in 1997 I was in a ministry training school and part of that program was to go on an international ministry trip. My pastor invited me to be part of a team that was traveling to the former Soviet Union. To be honest I wasn't entirely sure how to feel or what to expect. Up until that point my foreign travel consisted of 1 trip across the Canadian border. If you haven't visited our neighbors to the north it's a lot like the US but colder aye. On top of that I am probably the last generation that grew up being taught to fear/hate the Russians. After all if the world came to an abrupt end it would surely be their doing. Now when I say my Pastor 'invited' let me be more clear - I was voluntold.
I boarded a plane and before I knew it I was standing in Moscow. The following day we traveled to the Black Sea to host a leadership conference for pastors. I was a 23 year old punk Bible College student. What did I know that these men and women of God needed or even wanted to hear? I was given one teaching slot and at my pastor's request discussed the importance of youth ministry. I wrapped it up and we headed for lunch. The missionary we were working with came over to the table to inform me that I would be teaching on the subject again that afternoon. And the following day. The Holy Spirit sparked something in those leaders that day and He used me to do it. It was incredible to think that I made a difference in another nation. But that wasn't the only difference that was made that day. Little did I know that the biggest change was taking place inside of me. I've had the privilege of sharing Jesus and training leaders around the world and here are some of the things I've learned along the way.
- God is WAY bigger than we realize.
- People are just people regardless of where they were born or where they live.
- There is a big beautiful world out there.
- Where God guides He provides.
- The Holy Spirit is the same no matter where you go.
- The good ole USofA doesn't have the corner on Jesus, the Church and certainly not worship.
- Speaking of the good ole USofA I didn't appreciate how truly blessed we are until I left her behind.
- I've made some incredible friends along the way. You get to know people better in a week on the mission field than a year in church.
I used to think that we were doing a good thing by going. I now realize that He is doing a God thing and we are the real recipients of the blessing when we answer the call. In 20+ years of following Jesus I have found NOTHING that can impact a believer's walk with Christ like a short term mission trip can. And that's 'Why I became a missionary'. And that's why you should too. I'll leave you with a couple of thoughts to ponder.
"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."" - Matthew 28:18-20
""Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"" - Isaiah 6:8 NIV