Some of the best experiences I’ve had have been unexpected. God continually surprises me with His plans for my life, and once again He’s surprised me with another mission trip.
My first trip was in 2008 to Guatemala as part of a medical missions team. This time, I’ll be traveling to a country in the near east [I’m withholding specifics due to security reasons], where our team will be working with a missionary couple there that our church sponsors. The country we’ll be visiting is largely Muslim. The opportunity to reach out to those who don’t know Christ is great.
I’ve actually wanted to go on a mission trip to this particular country for a couple of years now, but the timing hadn’t worked out. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d go this year, either. After hearing about the mission trips that our church was planning for 2010, I debated and prayed about applying for a return trip to Guatemala or going on the near east trip. I could never get a real sense of whether to apply for either trip, however, and when the application deadline came and went I assumed that a trip was not in my forecast for 2010.
Little did I know that God indeed had a trip in store for me. A few days after the deadline, our missions minister called and asked if I’d be interested in joining the near east team. Just that morning, I’d confessed to God that I felt that I’d been selfish with my time, and asked Him for opportunities to share my time more freely with others. Hours later, here was the answer to the prayer–an opportunity to give up pretty much all of my vacation time for the year to go minister to others half a world away.
As I continued to pray about whether or not I should go, other confirmations came up. I discussed the possibility of the trip with my parents, wanting to hear if they had any concerns about me going. They were supportive of my going (as I knew they would be), and in fact, my mom’s first reaction was that if she were going on a mission trip this would be the one she’d want to go on.
Later that night, I already had someone offer to contribute to my fundraising efforts for the trip. This was someone who I don’t know very well, someone who I would not have expected to offer to make a contribution.
Right away, before I’d fully made up my mind about whether or not to go, God was answering my little concerns about having to take time off from work and raise money for the trip. After a couple of days spent in prayer and discussion with friends and family, I knew that I was indeed supposed to take this trip this year.
And so, by the grace of God, I and a team from our church will head overseas this May. We’ll spend a couple of weeks there prayer walking around the area, encouraging the local church members, helping students practice their conversational English skills by using the Bible as a text, and establishing relationships with the people there. Although I wasn’t expecting to go on this trip this year, I fully believe that God has been preparing me for this for a very long time.
There are some things that I do expect to happen on this trip. I fully expect that, as it happened when I went to Guatemala, I will leave a piece of my heart in this new country. I expect to make new friends and form bonds that will carry on from this life into eternity. I expect God to open doors and do amazing things, answering prayers beyond our expectations. I expect my faith to grow in leaps and bounds.
As our team begins the process of fundraising, learning a new language, and preparing logistically as well as spiritually for this trip, please pray for us. Pray too for the people that we’ll encounter along the way and while we’re there. As the earthquake in Haiti has reminded me, life is short, and there are no guarantees of tomorrow. Pray that we will allow God to use us in whatever way He sees fit to expand His kingdom and minister to others in the name of Christ.