This may be a long post, but hang in there with me folks...I promise it's worth the read. This summer One Vision had a record number of trips to the Dominican Republic. We took two teams in June, three teams in July, and one in August. At one point, teams were departing the DR one day, and a new team was arriving the next.
Early on we wondered, "Can we handle this many trips?", "Will this be too much for our staff and volunteers?", "Will there be enough to do for so many teams, so close together?" (I imagine God laughing and shaking His head at us as we pondered these things)
God has richly blessed us this summer with renewed energy, drive, and a passion to share His Gospel. During each trip He revealed Himself in a new way to our staff, trip participants, and men, women, and children in the DR. We were given the opportunity to reach out to others in so many different ways from Martial Arts to Stomp performances to Medical Check-ups to just spending time sitting in peoples homes.
There were times for learning
Times for playing
Times for practicing new skills
Times for check-ups
And times of encouragement
What do all of those moments have in common? Relationship building!! All to often we travel overseas with a specific project and a list of to-do items. While all of these "to-do" items are intended to help and serve others, they also shift our focus from God's calling in our lives......to love our neighbors as ourselves and make disciples. We worry "If we don't finish painting this room, the trip will not be a success", or, "If they do not receive Christ as their Savior this week, what have I accomplished?"
The truth is, One Vision's goal in taking mission trips is not to save others, it is not to change hearts, change attitudes, or change lives. It is to be obedient, whatever the cost, to the calling to GO and believing that God will use our faithfulness to change the hearts and lives of others for His glory.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this is Mercedes, aka "Nena". One of our teams was scheduled to rebuild her home that was in need to repair. We had taken pictures, priced construction materials, and had begun working out all of the logistics. When it came time to make the final decision, the funding for such an undertaking simply wasn't ready. We worried that she would be disappointed or upset at the change of events but the team made new plans to hand out food baskets and simply spend time with people in the community.
As one group went door to door, they came to Nena's home. She welcomed them in and they all spent time talking; talking about life, family, blessings, trials and Jesus. That afternoon the same woman that we thought would be upset with our inability to build her home asked Christ to become her Savior. She did not feel cheated because our "team project" was not completed but rather felt joy that we had brought her a much better and eternal gift.
Want to know the best part?? That sort of relationship building does not need to be left in the DR or overseas in a foreign country. We can build the same relationships that point to Jesus in our own state, our own town, and in our own families.
The Word does not say that obedience is easy or comfortable, but is does say that it is mandatory. 2 John 1:6