MONDAY, JULY 15
SUBJECT: Ecuador VBS Mission trip
AUTHOR: Jeremy Witt
This past week, myself and 13 others from our church went to Pensaqui, Ecuador to help the local church do a VBS for the kids in the community. We left on Saturday, July 6 and returned on Saturday, July 13. This was my fourth trip to this beautiful country and people, but it was my first with my entire family. It was a “bucket list” item for me to check off. For those who have never left the country, it brings many questions and concerns. We had 3 on our team who fell into this category. Today’s time will cover a variety of things that we experience on a mission trip.
The first question is why? Why should we go? Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus tells us, “to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey all the commands that I have given you.” Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses telling people about me everywhere, in Jerusalem throughout Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. This is why we do mission work. Jesus commanded us to go.
So where do we do this? This is a common follow-up question. This word, “go”, literally means “as you go” or “wherever you go” share Jesus and speak Jesus to everyone. So whether we are in Marlow, Duncan, Elgin, Stephens or Grady County, Oklahoma, our country, or another, share Jesus. This is and was not just for the 12 but for all Christians. It is a mandate from our Savior to speak up, to share, to go, and to make much of our LORD and Savior. Our church does this locally and statewide in a variety of ways. We help nationally by helping church plants in Arizona (Valley Life Churches), and globally (Ecuador). Just remember, as you go, make much of Jesus and share Him by telling of the Good News.
One of the next questions is what? What will we do? We have gone by helping local churches get the word out as we have done in Arizona. We went to Ecuador by helping in a VBS. We go by having medical clinics for those in need. We have gone and taught English. We have gone and done construction work both in Oklahoma and in Ecuador. Our “what” can be almost anything if we go and work and share Jesus while doing it. You do this in our jobs, in our homes, and as we go, live for Jesus and share Him and the Gospel.
What should we expect is something that good preparation will help anyone going on mission.
1-Have a game-plan. Learn your audience and their culture, beliefs, and bridges to share the Gospel. When Paul was in Athens, he used their culture to share the Gospel in Acts 17:16-34
2-Be flexible and make adjustments. No mission trip goes as planned that I have ever been on. Flights can be delayed, people get sick, plans are changed, etc. Just as a coach has a game-plan, they have to make changes as to what their opponent is doing. This can be hard on us as Americans who like to have a plan and sticking to it. Even knowing that you need to be flexible and making adjustments were hard for us on this trip.
3-Be prepared for spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:12 we are not at war with people, but with evil and the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be aware and understand the devil is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
4-Be aware of your physical needs. We need to rest. We need to eat right. We need to drink water. We need to know what we can do and should not do. We need to be safe and follow instructions from our leader and those from the area that we are serving. We have to remember that we do not know everything and cannot do as we would do at home.
5-Take care of your spiritual needs. Prayer, Bible study, trusting the LORD and living by faith.
6-Encourage one another rather than complaining. Colossians 3:12-13 It was not really easy to do this on our trip. Things were not going as planned and the spiritual warfare was strong. Scripture was our anchor to remind us of our purpose when our flesh was weak. On a mission trip, we need each other, just as we do when are home. This is why being in church is so vital. When one is away, we are not the same. Your presence matters to more than you will know, and your service is critical to the success of our purpose. We need each other.
7-Be flexible when you return “home” and remember that this is not our home! Acts 20:22. When you return, take Jesus with you. We do not know what tomorrow, but we know who holds tomorrow. When you come back from a mission trip, the things we must do are to implement what we have learned. If we should be different when we return than when we left. The return to “normal life” can be challenging . . . You're going to tell people about your mission trip, and they won't understand. You'll show them pictures and they'll say, “Oh, those are nice.” The camaraderie you felt and experienced with your team will fade. You'll go back to school or back to work. And your mindset and heart will return to the way it was before you left . . . if you don't make intentional changes.
Did you know that the God that gave you an incredible experience overseas is the same God when you're at home? God is the same in Ecuador, Arizona, Africa and yes, even in Oklahoma. It is you that changed and your eyes that were opened when you traveled overseas. Now that you know what He is capable of, it's time to bring it home. Our church campuses need it!