I just prayed for the Kosovo Team and saw them go off to the airport on Thursday afternoon. This is the second to our last short-term missions team this year. When Cambodia Team gets sent off on Saturday, 7/23 and comes back in August, we will have completed all of our short-term missions trips for this year: Djibouti, Camp Barnabas, Mexico, China, Kosovo and Cambodia.
I still vividly remember taking six brothers and sisters from New Life in my minivan and going to Camp Barnabas for the first time in the summer of 1998. That was our first mission trip as a church. Eight years later, since the founding of New Life, we are sending more than 60 members through six different missions teams. We are carrying the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ all over the world! The kingdom of God is surely growing!
This year, I had the opportunity to go on two mission trips during the summer, Djibouti and Mexico. In November, I will be going to India with some of the members from the KSC to lead a house church conference for Indian church pastors and leaders. These leaders are eager to learn about house church ministry to increase God’s kingdom in their part of the land.
In Djibouti, I was deeply touched by the faithfulness, devotion, and sacrifice of the missionaries I encountered. They came from various nations to do God’s work in one of the toughest parts of the world. Many of these missionaries have been serving in Africa for more than ten years, and some more than thirty years! One thing about these missionaries that stuck to my mind is that they all worked very hard, but they also had a great time with one another joking and laughing together! It is through these precious kingdom servants’ hard, yet joyful, work that God is growing His kingdom in Djibouti. And I was very pleased to see our brother Sean Kim being greatly used by God to encourage the missionary families, as well as touching the lives of local people with the love of our Lord Jesus!
In Mexico, I was able to see the wisdom of the missionaries who are stationed in the mission base known as Roca Blanca. They are all from the States, and the core missionaries have been serving there for about fifteen years or more. Their mission is to reach the unreached Indian people groups living in the mountains of Oaxaca with the love and gospel message of Jesus. In doing that, they have established Victory Bible Institute, a three-year program, that prepares and equips those who are called to be in ministry. After training the local church leaders through the institute, they send them out to their own towns and villages, where they plant churches that are expected to plant other churches in surrounding regions.
The church in San Juan, which is the place that New Life team went, is a good example. Through this church two other missions got started in nearby places.
San Juan is a six hour driving distance away from Roca Blanca. We drove through winding roads, creeks, rocks, and mud to get to the place, which is located high up in the mountains. In order to get our meals, we had to walk up a very steep hill three or four times a day. This was extremely tiring and challenging for many of us. Since we slept in the church, which was also used as a medical clinic during the day, we had to pack and store our belongings in one corner every morning when we got up. Then we would have to unpack all of our belongings every night before we went to bed. There was also an infamous outhouse that became the hottest topic of our conversation. For me, it was one of the most comfortable outhouses that I have experienced during all my Mexico missions trips. I was able to squat and not hover over a not so clean toilet bowl. However, some of the team members had a difficult time using it just because they were not used to it. In the end, we all became pros in using it and finished the missions trip in style!
God did some amazing things in the hearts of those who went to Mexico. The trip was a life transforming experience for them and they will need to take some time to process all that they have seen, felt, and experienced.
This year’s mission trip to Mexico was special in that it was our first mission trip where parents and children were able to go together. I had the privilege of taking all my family with me. Lynette and the boys had a great time, and all three boys want to go there again in the future.
Through the trip I learned once again that suffering makes us strong and builds our character. That’s why God brings suffering in our lives. After hearing what other kids had to say about their bathroom stories during their missions trips, Enoch said to me, “Dad, since our outhouse in Mexico was a lot worse than theirs, I think I will have no problem using those kinds of bathrooms in different parts of the world.” The greater the suffering you experience and overcome, the stronger Christ follower you will become.
Through all the short-term missions trips, I hope and pray that we will realize how blessed we are and how much we can give and share for the cause of world evangelization. If we practice a radical downward mobility with our finances, and if we use our education, skills and talents to reach out to those unreached people groups in the world, God’s kingdom will surely increase. We might possibly be able to see Christ coming back in our generation!
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