Post-Mission Reflection

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There are roughly six to seven million people living in Ireland and 99.4% of those people do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I had the privilege of serving as a missionary for two weeks from Waterford to Roscommon with a team carrying a 12 foot Cross, giving out pamphlets of hope and talking with the people explaining the reason for our journey. When the idea of serving as a missionary in general was given to me, I was extremely hesitant because I have never been too effective with keeping conversations, especially with complete strangers. A good friend gave me assurance that even though it would be ideal for me to improve my conversational skills, I should not let that deter me from missionary work. God is faithful and gives us what we need when we need it and I found this to be true while on the trip. There were a few times where we would just be drained out and tired, and out of nowhere, someone would come up to us, learn about what we were doing, and prayed for us then and there.

Upon arrival, one of my prayers was to become humbled. Ironically, most of my luggage that contained all my toiletries and changes of clothes were stolen near the end of the trip. (You cannot get too much more humbled with that experience.) Seriously though, I learned to be more dependent on God and grow in a deeper relationship with Him in those two weeks. There was fellowship and worship every morning and quiet time with God was not only encouraged but included in the schedule. I will never forget that the very first song of the first worship service was Be Thou My Vision. That is one of my favorite songs and gave me encouragement and assurance that I was supposed to be there. God Of This City was a popular song of worship as well and an excellent theme considering the circumstances. Most of the Irish people are very kind and generous with the philosophy of “what is mine is yours.” That is an excellent trait to have, the major concern is that eternal salvation through Christ is missing for most.

In the week of missionary work, we faced various difficulties but managed to keep going and keep witnessing. The book of 2 Corinthians gives excellent insight regarding missionary work in general with the following verses:
4:17: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
6:4: “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses.”
7:4: “I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

On July 15, we concluded our Cross walk with a 15 mile journey back to the Lacken House. In the last mile, our entire group began singing Awesome God. When we arrived on the drive towards the house, we all lifted the Cross and carried it while singing Be Thou My Vision. Even though we were all physically and mentally tired after a long day, God’s Holy Spirit strengthened us to finish the journey and sing those songs of praise and prayer. In spite of all the troubles and trials faced on the trip, we acknowledged that we serve a God who reigns from heaven with wisdom, power, and love. He spoke into the darkness and created the light. Mercy and grace He gave us at the cross, we have not too quickly forgotten that our God is an awesome God. He is our vision, Lord of our hearts, our best thought by day and by night, His presence is our light. He is our battle shield and sword for the fight. Our dignity and delight. He is the ruler of all.

At the end of the two weeks, I was slightly discouraged because of my lack of communication among other missionaries and the people I came across during the trip. There were a few times where I wanted to offer words of wisdom and encouragement, but did not say much. I talked with the site pastor about this, and he gave me a whole new perspective about the situation. He told me that even though our abilities can be helpful, what matters the most is our availability. I went to Ireland to serve God by planting seeds in the hearts of the people so that they may know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I was there to have my eyes opened and my heart softened for all the people that are lost. I was there to share the carrying of the Cross when a fellow team member got tired. I was there to listen to anyone who wanted to talk.

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Pre-Mission Contemplation

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I am in awe of God’s amazing grace, mercy, and compassion now more than ever. For years, I have lived my own life not giving much thought to Him or others. When I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in my life, I still looked at my own life dwelling on failures rather than learning from them. I have backslidden several times through downward spirals of sin, especially of lust and pride. Christianity is not about being fixed, it is about God being present in the mess of our life so that He can work in and through us. In spite of everything that I have said and done, God has always been there and will always be there to lift me not only back up, but higher up in faith so that I may do works that I would not have done otherwise. I have learned that the only way up is to fall on my knees. The feeling of happiness will always come and go, but eternal joy comes from its acronym: Jesus, Others, You. Clearly, this goes against what we have learned in this world. It is natural to think of our own needs and wants first, after that Jesus and others usually alternate between 2nd and 3rd. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He does not change to fit our life or our needs. We have a tendency to make Jesus out to be what we want of Him so our faith is easy. It is time to know and follow the Jesus of the Gospels, to live on the narrow path, to repent of our own ways and to allow Him to work through us. When God is in our plans, the ordinary tasks of the day become extraordinary.

I will be doing missionary work for the first time and will be leaving the country for the first time. I will be sharing the privilege of walking a 12 foot wooden Cross through the towns and villages of Ireland for roughly two weeks. Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23 all stress the importance of carrying one’s cross. Especially in Luke 14:27 where Jesus says, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” I know that this was figurative not meant to be taken in a literal sense, however, when I came across the mission opportunity, I felt that God led me to do that specific activity to be the very beginning of annual missionary works.

During the time of Jesus’ ministry, the cross was viewed as the most painful and humiliating death a person can receive. Today, the cross is viewed as a symbol of love, forgiveness, and grace. The problem is that we have a preference of leaving death out of the picture and that is where trouble begins. We must die to our self so that we may live for Jesus. All of our natural desires in this world mean nothing if it does not synchronize with the character of Christ. Being a Christian means to live outside of our comfort zones on a daily basis walking by faith, not by sight, trusting Jesus Christ with all that we are and all that we have. Even though the thought of this causes anxiety, Jesus provides us assurance in John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Any time we become apprehensive about our walk in faith, we should remember to put our trust in God acknowledging His power and love for us. We read in Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” This is why we are encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing.