What do you say to people who ask about your missions trip–people who might expect some kind of profound and complex answer; people who might be uber-religious, and if you don’t “save” souls, or say the “right answer” they might reject the simple explanation you harbor in your heart?
It’s kind of like what we discussed on the last night in debriefing. Actually, when asked about what God did during the trip, I brought up this subject because it always used to bother me. Michelle’s response was great: Missions sometimes changes you more than anyone else. I discovered that when I first visited Kayenta.
While I did minister to the Navajo people and saw God work, God used the people there to minister to me. What I came away with is how people grow closer to God in difficulty. How joy is found in the simple ways of life. How the Bible is still the most powerful book in the world and God is supernatural. In Honduras, what I found wasn’t complicated.
The whole purpose of this trip, I discovered, was God showing me how much He loves me. How worship is simple, like when Suyapa makes meals for children and camp workers in the kitchen, or seeing others scrub towels over a pila (their version of a washer), singing worship songs while working, or wandering in the mists of early morning between the trees. On my fortieth birthday, I discovered that sense of worship. God showed up, recognizing the isolation I’ve felt for the past year or two, and filled the emptiness. He chased away the cynicism in one chorus of, “Happy Birthday.”
The morning of my fortieth birthday, as I shoveled horse dung to prepare the camp for the next group coming in, I laughed and enjoyed the chore. I didn’t expect special treatment from everyone. I kept talking about my fortieth birthday as more of a comment on the irony of doing something so crazy as to spend it in Central America. I walked into the kitchen at around lunch time and the place had been transformed.
I even had a bear pinata hanging from the ceiling.
Balloons were everywhere. Suyapa and the team had known about this surprise. For the first time, as Hondurans and my team, sang Happy Birthday in Spanish and English, I fought tears. The other Missionary, Jenny, had baked a mocha cake that had coffee in it. Michelle and Jenny had schemed about how to make my birthday special. The fire burned on the candles and the voices lifted in harmony and I kept biting my lip to keep from completely breaking down.
In that moment, I knew the whole reason God wanted me in Honduras (or at least, what He chose to reveal to me), and that was simply to say that I don’t have to work for His love. He loves me for me. I am acceptable in His sight. He also wanted me to feel love from my Christian brothers and sisters without the politics. The language barrier between I and the Hondurans didn’t matter. We understood a deeper language of brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ. You can tell someone that Jesus loves them. They can read the scriptures. They can believe in them, but some of us who have had dysfunction in our lives, think we have to earn that love even when we know we don’t have to earn it.
Jesus died for me. He did so because He loves me. I have never cried over Happy Birthday until that day when I realized this was His way of saying, “I love you” through the fellowship of His church.
Our lone ministry, located in the capital of Tegucigalpa, is focused on youth leader training, working with handicapped children and the development of a Christian camp for them. READ MORE