I love Missions Conference week! There is nothing as encouraging as hearing how God is working all over the world, and it has already been so good to hear how He is using different people with a variety of personalities and giftings in other countries as well as our own. I treasure my own experiences in mission trips to various part of the US, Canada, Hungary, and India. Here are just a few of my favorite lessons:
1. God’s orchestration of getting me to the mission field was perfect. One Sunday morning, I felt Him tell me that He wanted me to go on a mission trip, and that night, I ‘happened’ to talk to an acquaintance who was going on a mission trip that was right up my alley. Then, there was the matter of getting my parents to agree to a year-long mission trip that interrupted college – that was a miracle! The biggest faith builder for me was support raising. I came on to the team very late in March, and we had to raise $25,000 by August. I was the kid that didn’t like doing fundraisers partly because I was so shy and partly because I didn’t like imposing on people. But God was, as always, the perfect provider. I learned that He built this team of supporters to help send me, and that they were just as crucial to His great work. I loved seeing support come in from some truly random places like my dentist or a family that I had never met but that had previously gone to my church. Perhaps the most precious supporters were three kids from a family who were my adopted college family – they secretly saved money for me and then gave me about $15 in change – what a sweet sacrifice!
2. “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.” This is a great quote and so true. We may never feel worthy or ready for something God calls us to like missions, but that is exactly His plan. When we are weak, then He is strong and is most glorified. If you are nervous about something God is calling you to, don’t let that stop you. Step out in faith and watch God work!
3. God does not need us, but He graciously uses us anyway! After spending a year in Hungary and investing in the lives of some teenagers, I felt strange going back home to finish college. I worried about what would happen to some of the girls I had witnessed to, but God quickly showed me that He was in control. Petra, one of the dearest girls I had grown close to, believed in Jesus within a few months after I left. God showed me that He is the one who does the work of salvation, but that we get the joy of partnering with Him and seeing Him accomplish it. Conversely, one of my teammates had been very nervous about leaving his dad who was alcoholic and had been suicidal, but amazingly, God helped his dad to get sober that year while we were gone. We are certainly important to the work of God, but I think we need reminding that He is the one in control.
4. As Reba Bowman talked about Sunday evening, it can be easy to look at the need in some of these countries and feel overwhelmed, but that is just a reminder that our God is bigger than all the pain and difficulties in this world. He has us all in His hands, and I remember that was one of the most amazing lessons from traveling and doing missions. Our God is omniscient and omnipresent. He is working in every country to reach all peoples with His gospel, and while I would have said that was true, it was really brought to reality when I could see it and hear stories of what He was doing.
I hope that you will all go to as many events as you can during missions week, and that you will be equally inspired and encouraged in your walk of faith with the Lord. I also pray that our hearts will be open to any new step of faith He is calling each of us to, whether it is a ministry in the US or to another country!