CDA Student Maggie McGee shares her story of how God gave her a different perspective on life as an American Citizen and a follower of Christ.
Earlier this year, my youth group leader began to organize a mission trip for us. We began to plan and fundraise for a trip to Guatemala. Our trip was through a missionary organization called NEXT Worldwide, whose primary focus is training leaders to bring the Gospel to unreached people groups around the world. The term "unreached" refers to people who have no access to the Gospel, or a sustainable Gospel presence, and less than 2% of their population is considered Christian.
In the world today, there are around 2 billion ethnic people groups who are considered unreached. With NEXT Worldwide, we traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, where we would go out into the poorer suburbs and spread the Gospel. In Antigua, the population is primarily "cultural Catholic". This means that while many of the citizens call themselves Catholic, the Catholicism they practice is more of a label, and not a true relationship with Christ.
Everyday, we would go into the suburbs surrounding Antigua, and meet the people who lived there. We'd pile into a bus, head down the streets, knock on doors, and go into the homes of whoever would welcome us in (with translators of course). When you think about door-to-door evangelism, you probably imagine being bombarded with Bibles. But, as we learned, people just wanted to have a relationship with us. The people in Guatemala are SUPER friendly, and super welcoming.
They invited us in, and let us get to know them. We asked them about their families, their jobs, their schools, their foods, and once we'd built a foundation, we'd asked them what they believe about God. It was truly incredible to see how God worked in these people's lives, whether they were just Christians by a label, or whether they truly followed Christ.
One thing I saw while I was there, was God's care, provision, and love for His children. This was my second mission trip to go on, so I was thinking I'd be a pro at this. I was expecting to walk into houses where people had never even heard the name of Jesus before, but they'd immediately except Him the second we walked through the door. God had other plans for me. Instead, he wanted to show me how to show His love to others in circumstances where people took varying attitudes toward their beliefs.
He brought my team to houses where they called themselves Christians, but didn't know Christ. At those houses, we talked to them about the work God had done in our lives, and how he wanted to know them. We prayed with them, and asked them what they thought of God. In some houses, the people would begin to really understand who God was for the first time.
In others, they'd very nicely thank us for coming, but stick to what they thought before. In other houses, we were greeted by strong, genuine Christians who wanted to share their testimonies with us. On those occasions, we got to have the incredible experience of building one another up in Christ. We were able to encourage the Christians there to continue to live the mission Jesus left for us, and invited them to share the Gospel with others.
At one house, we met a man with a powerful testimony, who was excited to take the Gospel to his neighbors. When we asked him if he had a Bible, he answered yes. But because so few people can afford Bibles there, we thought we would offer to leave him a Bible we brought with us so that he can give it to someone he might be able to leave to Christ. When we offered it to him, he was smiling ear-to-ear, so joyful, because he said that he had a friend who just gave his life to Christ, but didn't have a Bible. He said that he'd promised his friend he'd save up and buy him one, but it would be a while before he could get it. He called this Bible "the Bible from the Heavens", and I will never be able to forget the joy that it brought us and him.
God did incredible things in us and through us every day we were there. I'd ramble on and on about what we saw, but I won't, (please come find me if you want to know. Trust me, I want to talk about it). Through mission trips, God has shown me so much about how His Kingdom is waiting for us, and how by responding to His call to go make disciples, we are serving him. We take soooooooo much for granted here, and instead of being grateful for what we have, and we should avoid being immature in how God’s provided for us. God's called us to a different life, a different goal, and a different perspective.
Serving is so important to understanding what really matters in the big scheme of things, and how we can live the way God intends us to. When we look at how the world wants us to live, and how God wants us to live, we can see two polar opposite options. One is all about self-promotion, gain, and isolation, the other is all about pointing back to God, selflessly giving up, and community.
Serving on mission trips does so much for understanding God's plan for our lives, and how we can continue to live out His mission after we finish up the work in the other countries. (News flash, if you are a follower of Christ, you are called to the Great Commission. It doesn't matter where you are, where you live, what you do, or how old you are, your entire life is a mission trip. Don't worry, it's pretty great.)