This was written as an update for my prayer partner, but a lot of the thoughts here have been a catalyst for future posts, so I decided post it here.
During one of our mission trainings before we left, Caleb Lain gave an illustration that perfectly describes why I went on the mission trip. I’ve always felt this way about missions, but never had a good way to share it. I just wish I could describe it as well as him, but I’ll give it my best shot. Caleb had us start by listing signs you see on a road, such as a Stop, Yield, Slow and Caution. All of the signs we listed were ones of warning; there was not a “Go Sign.” The reason for this is because a road is designed for driving, when we are on the road we are supposed to go, unless told otherwise. In the same way, while on earth we are supposed to share our beliefs at all times. Unless God specifically tells us not to go, we must take advantage of every opportunity because we have already been told to go. Mission work is not a suggestion or optional—it’s a command.
Before this mission trip, I’d never been on a roof before nor ever used a hammer. So I had absolutely no idea how I was supposed to roof a house. I felt like I was in over my head. How was I supposed to help keep a family’s home from leaking when I couldn’t even hold a hammer correctly? But everything quickly changed, mainly because we had amazing leaders who taught us one step at a time. I have a great respect for anyone who can teach me to hold a hammer right (I still can’t hold pencils, forks, or knifes correctly…) But on a more serious note, even when everything was going wrong and everything was messed up, our team leaders didn’t get mad or upset, they just figured out a way to fix all the problems we managed to create. Their love for us was a great encouragement to me. They were constantly looking out for us physically, emotionally and spiritually. They were reflecting Christ in everything they did. I couldn’t have asked for better leaders.
One thing that amazed me was how many times the gospel was shared. The 200ish World Changers participants were divided into 18 teams, all of which were assigned to some type of construction or clean up. The tasks ranged from cleaning up a cemetery to building wheelchair ramps and painting houses. At first this didn’t seem designed for sharing the Gospel with people of New Mexico, because it felt like our time was completely occupied with repair work. But on our first day, the Gospel was shared 77 times. God. Is. Good.
On Wednesday, FBC Gallup was putting on a Block Party for the community. So each team was given a stack of flyers to hand out near their work sites. During one of our breaks, we began going door to door inviting the neighbors to the party. But we were told not to talk to the people who lived across the street from the house we were roofing. The reasoning behind this was because the family was Muslim, and we were told the father would most likely be rude to us. This was challenging for me. I realize the adults were just trying to protect us, but if we are purposely avoiding people with religious views that don’t line up with ours or who might not accept us, then what are we doing? The purpose of missions is to share what we believe. But later in the afternoon, one of our sponsors went over and invited them to the Block Party we were having that evening. Although they did not end up attending, they responded very politely to the invitation.
The most amazing thing about the week was seeing what we could accomplish when we relied on God for our strength. Roofing a house is not easy work. In the mornings we were supposed to be leaving the Middle School by 7, but as a team (our leaders didn’t decide for us) we decided to leave earlier, so we could have more time to work. So on Friday, our fourth day working on the house, our crew worked from 6:15am to 7:30pm only stopping for a short lunch break. And throughout the long day, there was not a single complaint. We could not have done this on our own. This was complete evidence that God was with us.
All of the people I met, and all of things I got to see and do was great, but the biggest impact of the week is still to come. Several weeks before we left, I was talking to Elizabeth Lain and she said that World Changers was very mission orientated. I thought this was little strange to say since World Changers is designed for mission trips. But throughout the week, I was able to understand what she meant. I’ve grown up in church, I’ve been to countless church camps, and many other mission trips, but I’ve never heard so much emphasis on missions before. During the week they kept giving us suggestions for ways to participate in mission work outside of the Gallup area, whether it be through Operation Christmas Child or donating to new church plants’ youth ministries. But the thing that stood out to me the most was how the Missions Coordinator highly encouraged us to commit to give a summer or a semester to mission work before we graduate college. Although this commitment scares me like no other, I’m still really excited about it. I don’t know exactly when or where I’ll be going, but I’ll just have to wait on God for that.