In just a few weeks, my husband and I will be taking a team of 31 people from our home church to Haiti for a short-term missions trip. Although mission trips are not new to me, I still am feeling a bit anxious. There are a couple of reasons for my hesitation…
- We will be taking our adopted son back to his homeland for the very first time. I am nervous about how he will respond. Since he is three, I have no way to prep him for his visit. I don’t know if he can comprehend. I ponder “What will go through his head?” Will he understand our visit is temporary? Will he remember the language? Will it cause any setbacks in the strides we have made towards bonding? Are we making a mistake?
Control Must be Surrendered
Mission trips are great reminders that we are not in control. We serve a sovereign God who has set each of us in our allotted place. We may grapple with why some people groups struggle with poverty or the lack of freedom; however, we must never doubt that God is in control. Visiting an undeveloped country is no doubt challenging. It should move one to contemplate their own pride. The modern-day comforts we so readily enjoy here in America are not due to our better intelligence, stronger work ethic, or favoritism with God. Everything we have should point us to the graciousness of God and God alone.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, Acts 17:26
- I will never forget my first visit to Haiti in June 2013. My mind could barely absorb the vastness of injustices my eyes were taking in. As missionaries shared more about the country, we quickly realized there was more than meets the eye. Besides the obvious material poverty, witchcraft, voodism, sex-slavery and social injustices abound. The inward motivations of my trip were being unveiled. Had I come on this trip to make myself feel better? Was I looking to be a part of a noble cause? Was this trip about me? Or the people I would encounter?
Love Others as Yourself
To be truly effective in our mission efforts, we must wrestle with our inner motives. Do we see ourselves through God’s lenses? Romans 7:21 swiftly points out, “when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” Am I going to serve others? Or going to serve my own emotional need? Coming to the realization that I, myself, am poor is no easy accomplishment. But definitely worth the digging. I am in just as much need of saving as as the person living in Timbuctoo. To elevate my self-worth above another is…well, bottom line…it is called sin.
Frankly, the Christians I encountered in Haiti challenged me much more than I could possibly ever challenge them. Their faith was so authentic, compassionate, challenged and deep. When they prayed the Lord’s Prayer, “and give us our daily bread”–their words were not taken lightly. They meant what they said. Every morsel of food was considered a blessing. Make no mistake, there were many days they went with none.
Die to Self and Give God the Glory
Words cannot even begin to express all the conveniences I daily take for granted. The evils of a third-world country may seem readily apparent to my American eyes. However, have my own sins gone by unnoticed? While people in Haiti may be blinded by casting spells and evil spirits, have I recognized my sinful indulgence in comforts and pleasure?
I challenge you, therefore, as believers to go. Go and spread the Gospel. And in doing so, may the Gospel also be spread within you.
Have you been on a mission’s trip? If so, how did it personally impact you?