What is frightening about mission trips? What is exciting? Where does the courage come from to go on such adventures?
One mission trip I went on was to Haiti in the mid 1980’s. A dozen Ohio University students and I, along with a pastor friend from Athens, OH, went to help build a church and school. It was the first time out of the United States for many of the students and we faced reverse culture shock together.
It was uncomfortable not being able to communicate without a translator, feeling very inadequate in our attempts at speaking the native language, trying different foods, and staying in places without things we were used to (i.e., like electricity, and running water that was drinkable from the faucet). The large spiders though, took some getting used to. My size 12 boots took care of one spider on the wall one morning!
Seeing severe poverty across Haiti on our spring break trip was unsettling and sad. It affected all of us and caused many questions over meals. The local pastor and mission leaders told us that government corruption was a main contributing factor to their plight. Many countries like the U.S. had sent aid again and again only for the resources to be diverted into the pockets of unsavory government, gang, and underworld characters. The people of Haiti suffered as well from lousy educational systems, family breakdowns, poor moral choices, and a demonic atmosphere enhanced by witch doctors.
We had the privilege of speaking in churches, along with sharing testimonies of what the Lord had done in our lives. The Lord opened the door for us to minister to many men, women, and children, and even pastors, some of whom spoke some English.
Our female students ministered to female Haitians, while our male students did the same with the boys. In addition to playing lots of soccer with Haitian kids at the work sites, our students talked about Jesus, gave out Bibles, read stories, and tried to share the wonderful message of salvation. I was approached and challenged by a local witch doctor to stop our work effort, but I did my best with a translator to rebut his opposition because of the “blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Our church and school building projects continued, and the Haitian Christians were strengthened, all because the Lord answered our prayers.
Read Acts 13:1-12.
Many Haitians put their faith, hope, and trust in Jesus while we were there. They asked God to clean them, heal them, help them, and they accepted His eternal gift of grace and forgiveness. Pastors were encouraged to “stand firm” and continue in the work of the Lord because their labor in the Lord is not in vain.
God’s mysteries are great, but His hand of sovereign provision is remarkable. God took care of us while we went to Haiti to serve others. Have you considered giving up some of your creature comforts to work in another country over spring or summer break? Serve globally. God’s calls and expects us to serve others “hope” – in their darkness.
Love is a verb,
©2018 by Mike Olejarz