Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Mission Trip Experience

I just returned last week from the island of Eleuthera.  On the island there is a Christian sports camp, Camp Bahamas.  Camp Bahamas is reaching Bahamian youth with the love of Jesus Christ and the gospel.  The nation of the Bahamas is in what I would call a dangerous position.  Last year seventy-five percent of all child-births were to singe moms.  75%!!  Sixty-five percent of the nation is under the age of 25.  I look at those two stats and see a nation’s strong need for Christ, young men need to know what it is to be a father, and as the pastor in the Bahamian church we attended said, not the “village ram”.  

Our student ministry now has three trips under our belt to this little island of rock and coral.  I witnessed our students’ lives impacted once again by witnessing children living in poverty.   Our team worked hard at the camp helping the staff get ready for their camp that starts next week.  In the afternoon our students led an outreach in the local settlement park, like a mini vbs.  Great experience for our team and I’m praying they bring that heart for serving back home and think of ways they can do similar things in our own community.

Each evening we had our team meeting and devotion/worship time.  I asked the students on the last night to share some things they learned about themselves, spiritually, impactful, etc.  This of course caused me to think about myself and what I learned.

I had a few days on the trip where I didn’t feel well at all.  I couldn't do much of anything for a few days of the trip.  For me, personally, this was very hard.  I didn’t want to sit and watch our team working and do nothing myself.  When you are on an island with no hospital or doctor you really have to listen to the advice of the camp nurse.  So sitting in the shade and “supervising” is what I was told to do.  When this was going on I was frustrated and disappointed.

On the last day I was thinking about the trip and evaluating the week.  I came to three realizations:

1.  I’m dependent on God.  I was in a position where the only thing I could do was to depend on Him.  I was out of control of what was going on in my body.  I couldn’t run up the road to the doctor’s office.  I was, as I always am, totally in His hands and dependent on Him.

2.  When we build ministry teams on our own personality rather than build a team of leaders we set ourselves up for crisis.  Our team had several team meetings over several months.  We covered: unity, flexibility, focus, discovering how God has wired us to serve and lead.  The result of these meetings and training was a team that jumped in and did what needed to be done without being under someone’s thumb or waiting for me, as their leader, to call all the shots.  Our team was a team of leaders and our students excelled in doing what needed to be done.

3.  Team chemistry is vital to success.  For the most part our team functioned in unity and worked together.  On every mission trip by Wednesday (mid-trip) everyone is tired, exhausted and this can play into how we respond and react to each other.  We had a short team meeting after lunch on Wednesday to remind everyone to respect each other and be aware of our own emotions and how we respond to others on the team.  When on the mission field in another country or even here at home, those we are serving and working with are watching how we interact and treat each other.  It’s important they see Christ in all we say and do.

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