Driving home from the airport last weekend, one young person was sharing highlights from the mission trip to Moldova and a statement she made really stuck out to me. She said excitedly, “By the end of the week we all felt like family!”
While she may not realise the significance of why that was true, I was glowing because I knew she had encountered God in a new way.
At the start of the week, the team was a mixture of nervous excitement! Many were concerned about the conditions we would face in the Moldovan villages. They worried about being far from home or not knowing how to react to cultural differences. In the midst of all the ways they were pushed outside their comfort zone, God met them in new ways.
On mission trips, young people experience a new passion for God.
We spent an hour with God every morning, reading the Bible, praying, journaling. In their everyday lives, young people are so easily distracted by their phones, or friends, or busy schedules. But not on a mission trip. Phones were not allowed, time had to be spent alone, just them and God. And our schedule was set so that this time was completely free.
One of the young people on the trip wrote about the experience:
“I have enjoyed growing my relationship with God. He has shown me to trust and believe in him in hard times.”
Even in the most unlikely places, our team saw new meaning of having passion for God. Another student on the team wrote about a home visit to a bed-ridden elderly woman:
“The plan was to encourage this lady and pray with this lady but actually she was a bigger blessing and encouragement for us. She has a big passion for God and a big heart. I was so encouraged after this time.”
As young people are given opportunities to see and experience God more, their passion for Him grows. They also understand more clearly who they are in Him and what their role is in His family.
On mission trips, young people experience a new love for one another.
This happened within the team and outside of it. Our team of young people and students for the Moldova mission trip came from 5 different churches, 6 different year groups, and 4 different countries. Needless to say, the first few days we often felt disjointed, competitive, and individualistic. But somehow God took the unique personalities of the team and created a family. God gave us a love for each other and a desire to serve one another on the team. That showed by one person offering another their water, by someone picking up a broom to sweep our meeting room, by praying for a teammate who was feeling ill.
The group’s love for one another spilled over into their ministry times every afternoon when they served the local village church by running childrens programmes or visiting church members in their homes or helping with physical labour. Another team member reported:
“Even though most of the time they couldn’t understand us, they knew we cared and loved them.”
The love the team shared grew exponentially over the course of the week and it was evident God was at work in showing His love to us and to those we served.
On mission trips, young people experience a new compassion for the lost.
They are able to share their faith story with others. They are able to pray for those who are hurting, lay hands on those who are sick, and encourage those who are lonely. So many families in Moldova are split up because the men and children leave to find work in other countries. God broke the hearts of many young people on our team by exposing them to the lives of those who lack the comforts we enjoy. He gave them a new heart for ministering to the hurting, the broken, and the lost.
One person on the team wrote about her experience:
“When you go into villages in Moldova, it’s easy to feel guilty or bad because you have so much and they have hardly nothing. But what God was teaching me this week was that it is okay having so much. And instead of feeling guilty I should go out to the people and share my love and my wealth with them… It just helped me serve the kids, to share my love with them and bring light into their lives.”
As the team grew to become a family, they drew others into their family. The children especially, could see and experience God’s love through His love in us.
It’s in these key areas of spiritual growth that young people’s faith journey makes huge strides through mission trips.
Sure, taking teenagers on mission presents all kinds of challenges. But the hours of planning, moments of frustration or situations of embarrassment are fleeting compared to the eternal investment and growth they experience.
We can continue to pray that God will grow spiritually healthy young people by giving them opportunities to join Him on mission, be it in foreign countries or in their own town. God is drawing young people to Himself, to be part of His big story, part of His family on mission, and trips are a powerful way for them to experience God in new ways.
Categories: Mission Trips
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