Eleven years ago I met a young missionary my age who was going to Peru. At the time, I was going to a little country Baptist church just down the road from my house. That afternoon I had planned to go skeet shooting with one of my best friends from high school. However, what happened after the service literally changed my life forever. The missionary asked me after the service if I wanted to go with him and the pastor to Raider’s Restaurant, which is no longer open. At that time, I don’t think I had ever met a missionary under the age of 40. It seemed to me that all the missionaries going to the mission field where old and almost ready to retire. I decided to go with them to lunch. While we were at the restaurant, my missionary friend asked me if I would go to Peru with him in a couple of months.
Wow, Peru! I grew up in a small town. I had never been out of the country and I was pretty much a homebody. But, at the time, I had a good amount in the bank, and it sounded like an adventure. I knew God was doing something in my life, but that story is for another time. So I said yes. My friend seemed surprised, but by the next day things were rolling. I purchased my tickets, went to the county seat Post Office to get my passport, and within two months I was leaving the Columbus airport on my way to Arequipa, Peru.
When I arrived I had never seen anything like it. It was one of the most beautiful places in the world. There was little to no vegetation, but the people were different, the food was different, and the language was different. It was about the coolest thing I ever did in my life. But little did I know what all God had intended for me on this trip.
I will never forget the time that we rented motorcycles and went into the desert to little small villages where the towns were no bigger than the one I grew up in. I remember the missionary telling of how there was no gospel-preaching church in that village. To be honest with you, though, that really didn’t move me at the time; I was to busy on my adventure.
Later on that week in the evening, we had the opportunity to see a building the size of show-barn that was packed with Peruvians. It was incredible. The message was in Spanish; the music and the choir was so incredible. Man, it really felt different! But to be honest, that didn’t have as much effect on me as you would think. I was too busy looking at all the people—almost 2000 of them. It was literally the size of my hometown in one building. I was having a blast.
After the conference, I was able to tour a convent where nuns used to live over 500 years ago. I walked around and saw the paintings on the ceiling that were used to indoctrinate these young women to trust in Mary. Man, I was livid seeing all that those women had to go through. However, even in the convent, I was having a blast. I love history and I was soaking up all the stuff that I was being told.
It wasn’t until one Sunday night that the Lord truly spoke to me. Sunday’s schedule was packed. We were traveling around in the city and that evening we went to a small church on the outskirts of town. It was dark, and there was a chill in the air. During the service I noticed some small kids come into the church. They were extremely rowdy. They interrupted the service, the song leader had a difficult time playing the guitar, and the preacher had a problem preaching (so he said; I didn’t understand his Spanish). But as we left that small church I began to think about a verse—the last part of Luke 12:48: For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
As I began to think of all God had done in my life, I couldn’t escape this truth. I had been given so much. I was born to parents who were saved and brought me up in church. I grew up in America. I was blessed. I remember thinking that since I had been given so much, that must mean God was going to require much from me. I was changed from that point on.
That short-term missions trip literally changed the trajectory of my life. It wasn’t two months after that trip that I quit my job, packed up everything I had, and moved from my family and my life to follow after God. I had no clue what God was going to do with me during that time. I didn’t know what I was going to be; all I knew is that trip made me realize that I had been given so much and now I had to give back to the One who gave me so much.
If you have never been on a missions trip, I would love to take you to see some of my greatest friends and heroes of mine. But I don’t want the trip you take to be just an adventure and an awesome time. I want it to be a point in your life where you come back a totally different person with a heart that has been changed and a will that is set on doing something for God. Have you already been on a missions trip? If so, I would love to hear how your short-term mission trip changed your life. Post it in the comments.