I went, expecting to give to others, but ended up receiving so much more. These are the three things (out of many others) that God taught me through my recent mission trip:
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to speak the language as proficiently as the rest of my teammates but thought to myself, What’s the worst that could happen? As it turned out, I was forced to retract my words when I found myself freaking out on the first day after realizing we were supposed to give a short briefing in the language I hadn’t spoken for about … seven years! As the days went by, I was brought to a fuller realization of how terribly inadequate I was—even engaging in “casual” conversation was almost like asking for my life. As I stood there, all the confidence I had in what I could do melted down into a puddle of nothingness. I came to an appropriate conclusion: I am nothing.
Humility isn’t one of the popular ideas of today. In fact, most people see humility as a sign of weakness. If you’re not confident in yourself, then how is anyone else going to be confident in you? But that isn’t what God’s idea of humility is. James 4:6 reminds us that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Coming face to face with my weaknesses would not be one of the experiences I would frame up and write an article about (ironically), but I saw that God was teaching me a difficult lesson and learnt to take it from the hands of my loving Father. God can, if He pleases, choose to use a nobody like me.
2. Appreciate difference.
The realization of my inadequacy was a big factor in helping me notice that, hey, my teammates are really great people! The differences that initially made our working styles and personalities clash were the same differences that filled in the gaps and made up for another’s inadequacies. One friend could speak very eloquently, another could quickly and effectively think on her feet, and another would cover all the minute details that others missed out. While thinking about this, 1 Corinthians 12:4 flashed into my mind: “As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” How true and wonderful it is that God has created us, diverse and different as we may be, to have unity through Him in His body and complementing one another!
3. Stop and look!
As with most mission trips, we slept little and spent most waking hours thinking about or preparing for something that we had to do. But, due to my inability to speak the language, I was forced to watch and observe. What I saw startled me. God’s hand was so clearly visible in the lives of the people around—from a local leader who had a new and growing desire to study the Bible to a second generation Christian girl who was slowly becoming interested in the things of God.
As I watched, I was amazed at God’s deep and immense interest in the lives of every single individual. At this point, I came to realize that, if this God is my Father and this is His heart, then I as His child should be like Him, concerned about others and their relationship with God.
So I asked myself, and now throw the question to you as well: Have you talked to someone about Jesus lately?