Last summer, we had a few members from our church attend short-term missions. We thought it would be exciting to hear from a member of our church as he recounts his time from attending two short-term missionary journeys. The first to Arizona and the second to Honduras. I hope you’ll find the recap to be exciting and challenging.
From: Raymond Lu
Religious Background: A lot of missionaries from different religious sects come to these reservations. Most of the locals have a surface level knowledge of Christianity where they group Mormonism, Catholicism, and Christianity as all the same.
What we did: The main event that we held was a children’s VBS for five days. The children are raised very sheltered when young. Because of this, most of the kids were very energetic and wild. For the youth (7th–12th), we ran a basketball camp as well as a VBS. Our regular schedule consisted of waking up, doing door-to-door evangelism while inviting kids to attend our VBS, setting up for VBS and then VBS, and then debriefing the day.
What I learned: Throughout the week in Arizona, it is disappointing to admit that I was very pessimistic. I was in charge of the games, and on a few occasions I would ask the children what they learned during the day. Most of the time, I would get blank stares. I had a lot of fun but I was really questioning whether we were really teaching the kids or not. It was a matter of fruitfulness and faithfulness where I was so focused on the fruit rather than trusting in the sovereignty of God. And this all changed the very last night I was there. I was able to talk to one of the older adults and he was telling me his testimony. He told me how his son went to a VBS and couldn’t stop talking about God and how he learned about God through his son. Many times, I know that I can doubt children and their ability to understand their own faith. I know during that week especially, I doubted God’s ability to change a heart no matter how young he/she is. And all I could do was plant a seed hoping that it would grow.
What we did: We focused on medical checkups, optometry, and pharmacy. Throughout the week, I split my time between the optometry team and the pharmaceutical team. Every day we ran a “clinic” where the nearby villages would come and seek medical attention. The doctors did most of the evangelizing as they needed the translators the most but when there were translators that were free we had opportunities to speak with the people in line. Each day we would spend about 6 hours in a village running our clinics. On occasion, we would also distribute water to a local neighborhood. We also visited two orphanages and played with the kids.
What I learned: I met a missionary couple, David and Lydia, who are in charge of an orphanage in Honduras. David shared his testimony about how he gave up a comfortable lifestyle in the states to go to Honduras. He started from nothing in Honduras to where he is now, an orphanage that has grown to more than 500 kids. After we heard the testimony we played with the kids that lived in the orphanage. As we were playing, David came driving in a tractor. All the kids stopped playing with us, dropped everything, wriggled out of our arms, and cried out “PAPI!” or daddy. They rushed to him to receive a simple hug. Behind the hugs were a lifetime of sacrifice and submission to God. I saw how God had used David to touch the lives of all these orphans and teach them about God. Before we arrived, he told us that he came here so that he could show the orphans in Honduras that somebody still loved them and it is clear that he didn’t mean love from himself or Lydia but rather God. The 970 acres of land that he received when he was only paying for 10, the growth of his orphanage from 5 to 500 children, and the happiness of all the children I met there all gave witness to his faith in Christ.
The Joy of Jesus Christ
When thinking of missions and missionaries, I often think about how much I would have to give up, whether just a week or longer, to go to places like these where clean water is a luxury. When looking at David, I couldn’t help but smile and marvel at how much he was blessed in this country. I saw that he found his joy in Christ where in it, he traded everything he had in America for a hug.
Let me ask: what do you find your joy in? I’m not saying that your joy in Christ will lead you to some far off country where you will do missions when in fact it could lead you to your workplace, your school or even your friends and share the grace and mercy of the Gospel.
Do you treasure God so highly that you find all your worth and value in knowing and understanding Christ.? What better way to understand Christ than to strive to be like Christ in all your endeavors! All that Jesus commands, whether it be in Matthew 22:37–40 or Matthew 28:19–20, is to help us become more like Him as well as knowing our joy is in God. It is a serious matter to share the Gospel with others because salvation is at stake. He gave us the job to (1) glorify Him in the spreading of His Word and (2) glorify Him by becoming more like Christ and understanding Him more intimately.