The Teachings of a Short-Term Missions Trip

Evangelizing and opportunities to serve are all around us in this world, whether within the church, youth group, summer camps or school. However, going on a cross-cultural missions trip reaps a learning experience like no other, and I am here to share a few words on how my first missions trip changed my life.

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~

To start off, I can testify that I was not the least bit nervous last winter as I committed to being a part of a two-week mission team that would travel to Cucuta, Colombia. I was unafraid to serve the lost people of this poor country, excited to gain a new cultural experience and confident in my Spanish-speaking skills (which would be a big help in the process of communication there).Little did I know how truly impactful this trip would be on my life, and how it would strengthen my relationship with the Lord. I am grateful that I decided to take on this new realm of God’s calling for my life, because once I stepped foot into the dirt roads of Colombia, I was taught so many life lessons that I couldn’t have learned through any other experience.

 

— When you are put into the position of a two-week missions trip with a group of churchgoers ranging in ages from 12-75, you get the opportunity to really bond! —

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It is amazing to look back and see how I was able grow so close to people I was not intimately friends with beforehand, in both the team of Americans that I traveled with and the team of  Venezuelans we met there. As we unpacked each day on this new adventure, we were able to share many fond memories and pour into each other’s lives spiritually, as we faced sorrow, excitement, hecticness and joy.

Side Note: Building relationships with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that are from a country that’s more than 2,700 mi away, was an eye-opening and unforgettable experience!

 

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While our American team of 27 worked alongside a team of 15 Venezuelans, I was humbled  in getting to know the caring and servant-like hearts of  these people. Coming from a country that is in the midst of a political & economical crisis, these fellow brothers & sisters in Christ stand in line for 6 hours because the stores don’t offer necessities like flour, sugar, and toilet paper (which we all take for granted here in the US). And despite this, they take 3+ weeks to risk crossing their country’s border in order to serve and minister to their neighboring Colombians and  treat us Americans like we are royalty? That blew my mind.

The amount of complaining, selfishness and doubt that we have in our own lives is so unnecessary as God has blessed us abundantly with just being able to live in a country like the United States. Nevertheless, I loved getting to know these people, their crazy personalities and their steadfast passion for serving the Lord. 

 

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During our time at the Help & Hope centers in the various churches around Cucuta, my eyes were opened to love and hope in the midst of drastic trial. I saw a people who didn’t let poor living conditions, insufficient housing, and little food and medical supply stop them from welcomingly inviting us into their tiny houses to present us with food and gifts. God revealed to me the hearts of people who were so encompassed by His unwavering faith that despite their conditions, they continued to uphold hope and joy in their everyday lives. Seeing this among so many people drastically changed my outlook on how I should pursue a positive, Christ-like attitude, pushing me to better represent the fruit of the spirit in my own life.

 

Now, as I share one of the most important learning aspects that I received through this trip, I know it is probably a no-brainer that any person who attends a missions trip will come back with an empowerment to serve. At least, I assumed this as I heard the miraculous stories of many others within my church, friends and family that participated in missions. However, I didn’t realize until I went on a trip myself, the magnitude of change an experience such as this can have on a person’s outlook, purpose and motive in life.

 

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So, I would like to emphasize how this trip thoroughly instilled in me as a “young person” to serve.

I have heard over the years that short-term mission trips often times defeat the purpose of missions as they serve the missionaries more than the alleged people needing help. Which, I can partially agree to as I, and I’m sure many others, were so greatly impacted through the ministry opportunity we took part in while in Colombia. However, I feel that those we served were positively impacted as well, as they regained a new sense of hope and joy from personally witnessing a team of people that take part in the missions organization that funds their own village’s church, Awana program and/or after-school tutoring center.

 

In analyzing my overall experience, I found that after this trip I am 100% more interested in missions and serving others, and have been taught the importance of investment in the lives of those around me, whether back home in Illinois or abroad in South America. That being said, I can testify that short term missions trips such as these are extremely eye opening and effective for those who go, as they reveal a whole world of ministry that is out there, and how our personal work with others can so effectively broaden Christ’s kingdom for his cause.

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My faith was strengthened so much more than I ever could have expected through this trip (and it’s not just a “spiritual high”, it is a lasting closeness with the Lord, and furthering of my walk with Him). Additionally, I was struck with an abounding sense of humility that pushed me to pursue the virtues that I was able to see in action while I was in South America, giving me an embracive instillment of newfound hope and peace in my life and with my relationship with the Lord. Finally, it not only implemented these overly important virtues of peace, hope, love, kindness, and grace in my life, but it empowered in me a passion to serve. To serve those around me who are lost in a world full of sin. To serve those seeking medical, educational, and living assistance. And above all, to serve the Lord God Almighty, who has so mercifully given me a stable family environment, education, nourishment, and opportunity in life.

 

{It is my hope and prayer that I can one day return to South America in order to nurture the relationships that I started this past summer, and to continue to serve in an environment that I have completely fell in love with}

 

{Micah 6:8}

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

 

{Matthew 28:19-20}

“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.”

 

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~ Rachel Anne

 

 

 

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