This week I am heading to El Salvador on a mission trip with our church. It's with an organization called Filter of Hope, which distributes water filters in communities who have difficulty with sanitation. We will be sharing the Gospel, with words and actions in a place with which none of us feels familiar.
Let me back up… I am not a traveler. It's never been in my spirit to see the sights or mingle with the crowds or pay twenty-five bucks for a souvenir I'll likely throw away within a month. I also loathe the great white hope. Sharing the gospel in an evangelical way SO EASILY becomes a patronizing exercise of imperialism.
On top of that, I have plenty of opportunities to care for people within twenty feet of me, I hate wasting money, and really love to be efficient with my time and efforts. I deeply enjoy my own porch more than any other spot in the world and I like my husband's cooking. In other words, I don't really crave this kind of adventure. So why in the HECK am I doing this?
I'm doing it because I feel I should (shoulder shrug). Deep down there may be a self-centered desire to gloriously call myself a missionary (although that thought makes me want to puke), but I also believe this work can be good. In the Bible, the God Who Saves uses willingness as a method for His glory. As when God called Abraham to go without even a named destination, taking a step toward the unknown, the unproven, the unusual is often scary AND an act of faith. It requires trust that God is good enough to care for us, limited as we are—vulnerable, weak, and uncomfortable. Stepping out stretches faith, coaxes open timid eyes, and widens the view of a ridiculously large, loving God.
When I let go, there is only one way things will go well.
I haven't even left yet and I already feel weak. I am inexperienced. Airports put me on edge. I'm sweaty just thinking about the tropical temperatures. Cross-cultural communication is hard. I barely know the people I'm going with. I am already SO UNCOMFORTABLE.
I don’t believe that every short-term mission trip is well executed or honestly sacrificial. But that is my hope for this one… that God would use my willingness (along with my team from many churches) to form and develop us into closer likenesses of our generous, sacrificial God, that we would bless these communities and that they in turn would bless us, and that understanding of Jesus (The God Who Saves) would abound in our hearts and in Central America.
Unsplash: Ivan Calderon