“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
There are many words I could use to describe a mission trip: exciting, uncertain, trying, thrilling, awesome, exhausting, joyful adventures. At surface, we tend to view mission trips as opportunities to share the Gospel and share Jesus with the people of our destination. But I would argue that God uses you and me in these positions to not only bring His Word to the ends of the nations but just as importantly, to grow and stretch and deepen our own faith. I revel in seeing God use me as a tool to further His kingdom, but as God uses me to minister to others, He is speaking to me and shaping my heart.
This year’s Puerto Rico mission trip was incredible. We completed difficult, physical work in aiding the construction of Iglesia Bautista Christo la Roca’s new building led by Pastor Roberto. We scraped ceilings, removed lighting fixtures, knocked out walls and window frames, and cleaned up the rubble. We brightened local schools by painting designs and walkways and hosted classroom activities and served ice cream. We held a sports camp in a neighborhood that has allowed us to return for three consecutive years despite turning away other missionaries. We loved kids and showed them what it means to be “God made, Jesus Saved.” We held their hands and prayed with more than three dozen children who accepted Christ. It was amazing.
For me, Puerto Rico has been a blessing that I never saw coming. I went prepared to change lives and came back changed. This year, God has been teaching me a lot about His love for me. I don’t think anyone can ever fully understand it. God’s love doesn’t always make sense, at least not in human terms. It isn’t deserved. It doesn’t change. It overflows and abounds and never ends. The intensity of the love that I felt for and from people in PR doesn’t begin to compare to how much God loves me, and I felt it in my blood and my bones. God wrapped six little hands of three beautiful little girls around me, and they’ve had my heart ever since. They quickly became my kids. You don’t have to speak the same language to love someone with your whole heart. I love them with a fierce and deep love and earnestly pray that what they heard while we were there has a lasting impact, that God moves in their hearts and minds and opens doors for them to walk into His arms and proclaim that Jesus is Lord. Through them, God is teaching me that His love is even more fierce and deep. God loves those girls more than I ever could. God’s love for me is more than my love for those girls. And if His love is so great, why do I worry? I worry because I grow weary. I forget. I try to do it on my own. But I don’t need to do it alone...because I’m God made, Jesus saved, and He will carry me when I can’t do it. He will never leave me.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19
God offers hope in a community run by drug lords. He offers hope after hurricanes and earthquakes. He offers hope when the cancer comes back. He offers hope when I don’t know where I’m going to live. God moves in the most difficult of times. He is an anchor when the storm is raging. God sees us through because His love is deep and vast and wide.
Puerto Rico means far more than I ever imagined it could because God used relationships with children to illustrate His love for me. He broke down language barriers and crumbled walls and filled my heart.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21