During the first two weeks of June, I had the privilege to travel across the world (literally) to spread the word of Christ. With a 13 hour time difference and nearly 40 hour travel time, I am geographically on the opposite end of the Earth. With this being my first mission trip, I had no idea what to expect.
I had the privilege of going with a tremendous team. We attacked each day and grew closer together; I credit them for being a major component as to why this trip had the impact on me that it did.
Among the various bible studies, testimonies, and sermons we heard, I had the privilege of going through the book of Job with Cullen and Dan. Job 34 really spoke to me because Elihu, a friend of Job’s, rationalizes why the hardships that continue to threaten Job were caused by his sin. Elihu rationalizes in verse 12 saying “Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.” Elihu turns out to be very wrong, however the crazy part is I completely agree with this statement on the surface. Elihu uses this as an explanation for Job’s hardships, unaware of the spiritual battle being waged in which God is not punishing Job but rather boasting of his faithfulness. This instance played a parallel in my mission experience in Uganda. I was able to apply this to my own life seeing that the conventional rationalization of the hardships, trials, and occurrences in our lives in which we think we know God’s plan can very much be a complete misreading by us.
Being completely vulnerable with you guys, I like to have a reason or purpose for everything that I do. With that being said, if I do not see a purpose or something doesn’t add up, I’m not afraid to pursue the truth.
I’d say I didn’t have the typical mission trip experience, and struggled greatly during the daily evangelism times in which we’d go throughout the village to share the gospel. It was difficult to phrase my words correctly while being concise since a majority of the time we needed a translator, however I grew more comfortable over time. The big problem wasn’t that it was too hard, but rather it was too easy. On the second day we went out to evangelize, my group was able to lead 7 people to Christ over the course of an hour. Most people would be ecstatic, however I was skeptical to say the least. A lot of these people had never heard of Christ before, and we were sharing this grand story of God’s son being sent to Earth and sacrificing his life for the wrongdoings of all of mankind, and they were just going with whatever we said. I felt like I could have shared the story of Aladdin with them and convinced them to convert - in other words, being an obvious foreigner in their land, I thought they were just being yes men. This thought hit me hard and had me thinking, am I just being a yes man in my own faith? Why should I even believe this story I’m sharing?
I struggled greatly with these thoughts in the middle of the trip and ended up sharing it with Coach Jo, one of the team leaders for the trip. I was ready to put a wall up, anticipating that she’d try to convince me with a couple bible verses and assurance. However, she instead encouraged me that it’s healthy to question your faith and rather dig deeper - in the word of God, in books, and in my own meditation. I did exactly that, and although I didn’t have a light-switch moment, over the course of the next week an undeniable peace came over me on the whole situation. I grew deeper and genuinely interested in the word of God, and the work he’s done in the lives of my team members. That test of skepticism was a launching pad to my faith walk and pursuit of the calling God has in my life.
Much like Elihu, I had a rational or set belief that fit what conventionally happens. In Elihu’s case he knew that God provides rightful justice, and therefore associated Job’s struggles with his own wrongdoing. In my case, I believed that right away the blessing of sharing the story of Christ and the joy in the lives of those I impacted would help me grow spiritually. That was not His plan. Instead, the ability to share with others broke me down spiritually, forcing me to dig at the roots of my beliefs and regrow in my walk.
Keeping an open mind and perspective is everything. This Mission Trip has been life-changing and quite possibly the most important experience of my life. I’m so grateful for God’s incredible plan to send me to Uganda and surround me with believers whom I now consider my closest friends and family. The joy we brought to each man, woman, and child because of Christ truly assured me that no matter where on Earth we live, we serve the same God.