Christian missions is following Christ’s call: sharing the Gospel with the lost world through God’s wisdom and strength. The Great Commission states: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”—Jesus
I was first introduced to mission work when I re-dedicated my life to Christ way back as a freshman in college in 2000. It was a new concept to me…and being ‘new’ to my faith, it seemed pretty scary to actually believe I could venture out into my own fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Through my campus’ chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) I was given the opportunity to embark on my first short-term mission trip, 10 days, to a remote village in the country of The Bahamas, an island nation in the Atlantic Ocean. Primarily known for its tourism draw to its beautiful, sandy beaches, it also the only other region in the world with as high of a HIV infection rate as in Africa. In addition, children under 14 have the highest poverty rate in the Bahamas, with more than 40,000 persons in the country living under the poverty line on less than $5,000 per year.
Needless to say, upon our group’s arrival, it was very evident that we would not be there to relax under any palm trees. We slept outside in simple huts with thatched roofs complete with tarantulas and all other animals and bugs that tropical climates have to offer. We cooked all our own meals on a modest budget, mainly food that we packed from home and could fit in our suitcases. We painted and repaired projects around the camp where we stayed. We held vacation bible camps for kids at local schools. We visited sick and dying people at a HIV refuge camp. We shared the good news of Jesus. And it literally changed…my…life.
It opened up my mind and allowed me to see the power that Christ’s love had to offer others. I knew the instant our plane landed back in America, that I needed to do more of this. It was a calling on my heart.
Fast forward to 2002, and yet another opportunity arose for me to continue with mission work through InterVarsity. This time, our campus’ chapter would be traveling to Cibecue, Arizona, to the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Cibecue has the 18th-lowest median household income of all places in the United States with a population over 1,000. Many people who lived on the reservation we stayed at were barely able to provide food and shelter for their families and crime was very prevalent throughout the area.
Again, a step out in faith, to allow for God to work his miracles. We were allowed to stay with a tribal pastor at a bunk house site on the reservation, and worked for a week on various service projects around the community, including building a playground for the tribal children.
We held vacation bible camps for the children, prayed with people in the community, painted and repaired broken and damaged buildings, and again, saw God alive and at work. In an area as desolate as the desert, a wellspring of life was bubbling over.
And, the best part of this experience, was this time I got to share it with someone who meant a lot to me at that time…my boyfriend for over a year, who was also a new believer in Christ. He had never been a part of mission work before, and over the course of that trip, I began to see a transformation in him as well. We would return together to Cibecue twice again while we finished our college careers, each time realizing the passion all over again.
When we were married in 2005, we decided that while we may not get the same opportunities to travel on these short-term mission trips we so often enjoyed while in college, we could still find a way to somehow support missionaries who are doing this work each and every day.