Growing up in church, many people I knew went on mission to other states or countries. It was always a struggle for me to understand how people knew if they felt “called” to a trip or to missions in general. It wasn’t until around the start of college that I started getting my appetite for missions by doing work in the states. However, it wasn’t until a few years after college that I got up the courage to pray about an overseas mission trip. I had the opportunity to be a part of a team of ten people from Warren that would travel to do missions in Port Au Prince, Haiti for the first time. There were many unknowns for our team and myself—learning about and preparing for this trip, raising enough finances and staying safe, being my biggest ones. After hearing from a friend who had done missions in Israel for years, I learned more about the role of missions, short and long term. Short-term missions serve as a support to long-term missionaries who devote their lives to sacrificing to serve however God leads. What a privilege to encourage, serve and help hold up the hands of those who are tirelessly, day in and day out, doing missions. Not to mention getting to love and serve the local communities wherever your team is sent. After this conversation and much prayer, God worked in my heart and enabled me to tell Him I would go, no matter what I might face.
Arriving in Port Au Prince was like experiencing a whole new world like I’d never seen before. It’s indescribable some of the images I will never get out of my head, good and sad, from my time there. Hard times included, I wouldn’t take the experience back for anything. From all the people we traveled with, worked with, stayed at the same hotel with, served, loved on and even were not treated nicely by to the work, sweat, tears, fears and sacrifices made—God showed up. There were many days on the trip, one right after the other, that it seemed as if hardship was at our front door but in those times God showed that He had equipped us to what He had called us to, He had us in His hand and that He was in control. I experienced God like never before and was assured all the more of His great love and power. Plus, there is nothing like serving in a third world country to show just how blessed we are in America. It’s insane to think I almost passed up the experience out of fear. It is in our obedience through actions, not just words, that we prove our love for God and I believe He blesses obedience. Not so much with the blessings that profit us in this world but those that are eternal. More of Jesus is a blessing of its’ own, like no other (Psalm 16:11 – “…in His presence is fullness of joy”).
With a Christian background, I’d always been warned against the “mountain top highs” from trips to coming home and not being transformed. One of the greatest things I learned in Haiti is that when you fully surrender your time, safety, desires, personal agenda, money and everything else to serve the Lord, you will experience Him in ways you never imagined! You don’t have to go overseas to find those in need, to slow down enough to praise God, to loosen the talons we so often have clinched on our comfort, to pray like our lives depend on it, to get away from social media/technology, or to experience God in beautifully miraculous ways. You don’t have to travel half way across the world to surrender all these things to Him, you can do it wherever He calls you. And trust me when I say, if you do, you will be left in awe of Our Creator.
This little smile wasn’t easy to come by. You never know what people are going through and this thought burdened me as we tried for days to no avail for just one smile from this little guy. Having seen how he lives, it’s unimaginable what these children may experience in their lifetimes. We persisted with him and finally he came to me when he got hurt, fell asleep in my arms, showed me his smile and stole my heart.
This is just one story and like this some stories feature people who go through more than most will ever see or know. But there is one who sees all and is able to meet every need and wipe every tear. If we allow Him, God uses us to share this hope and let others know they don’t have to suffer in silence as a child of God for He will never leave or forsake us. Opportunities to meet needs become clearer the more we take our eyes off ourselves. May God continually open our eyes to our need for Him and the need of the world to be shown His love.
“Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead. Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot forget what love like this feels like. I left on a plane across a distant sea with the dust on my feet and now I carry you in me.” -Brooke Fraser
– Katie Brown