Thank you to all who contributed to this year’s mission experience! It was a formative experience for every person involved. While the first priority was to bring the children attending into a personal relationship with God, an added benefit was the change God wrought in the hearts of the students, faculty, and volunteers. Not to mention how the community was pulled even closer together through shared experience and challenge. Of the goals set forth by the faculty prior to the trip, the fourth on the list was most widely accomplished as many students broadened their understanding of “mission”, “mission mindedness”, and “calling”.
While other students no doubt have far better stories than my own that illustrate this growth in the understanding of mission and mission mindedness, all I have to offer are my experiences during the five days working and living on Dreamers’ Ranch. Over the course of the week, I was privileged enough to help lead singing and dancing during the Gospel message time as well as teach two of the groups myself. On the last day, one of the older children gave the team a letter, thanking us for all the things we did during our allotted time with the groups, from snacks to the dancing to the lesson. Though he probably did not intend to, he taught me that even the littlest things, like a snack, or carefree dancing add to the experience of each person and add even more value to the overarching mission.
As for calling, last year in Philadelphia, I was given the opportunity to test the waters of street evangelism. To put it nicely, I was terrible at it. I only mustered the courage to approach one person, and I could barely bring myself to stammer out a coherent sentence or two. However, this year, as I mentioned, I was placed in a position to once again teach the Gospel. In the more structured, class-like setting, I excelled. Each day I could feel myself growing in confidence and, as a result, enthusiasm. The children seemed to enjoy the lessons more and more, and by the last day nearly all of them were leaning forward in their seats and answering the questions I posed to them, not just one or two children. If you could not already tell, I much prefer teaching a structured lesson than approaching a stranger on the street and striking up a conversation.
For those who do not know me personally, my plan is to pursue a career in full time missions. Whether that manifests itself as pastoral ministry or as a “missionary”, I do not know quite yet. No matter where God calls, this trip has taught me that the little things should not be ignored and that I can best minister to others in a class or church setting which naturally suggests that I should pursue opportunities on that side of ministry.
To God be the glory!