Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mission trip to Mexico: Receiving more than we gave

As my wife and I tucked Josiah (age 6) into bed, he shared with us that he was nervous. The next day our family was embarking on a mission trip to Ensenada, Mexico, with two other families from our church.

Josiah was nervous because he had never been on a plane. He had never been to another country. He had never been on a mission trip. So we prayed together for Jesus to give him courage to face his fears.
Upon arriving in Ensenada, we were greeted with such warmth and hospitality. Our host family didn’t speak much English. My wife, our four children and I didn’t speak much Spanish. But it didn’t matter. Despite the language barrier, God knit our families’ hearts together immediately.
During our week in Ensenada, our families had the opportunity to experience so many meaningful serving opportunities: ministering at an orphanage, doing a work project for a local outreach to impoverished children, sharing food with those who were physically hungry, and sharing the good news of Christ with those who were spiritually hungry.
One of the goals of the trip was to see if the Free Methodist church in Ensenada could facilitate many families from Wenatchee Free Methodist Church serving together in this cross-cultural setting. The answer to that question became clear over the course of the week: absolutely.
What a thrill it was for us parents to watch our children serve Jesus in ways that got them out of their comfort zone. What a joy it was to serve side by side with our children, together living out our faith in another part of the world. My wife and I had been praying for this kind of an experience where God could grow all six of our hearts for His world.
This mission trip was an answer to that prayer.
Fast-forward to our final day in Ensenada: When Josiah found out that I was preaching (with Pastor Mike Henry translating) about how Jesus can set us free from our fears, he asked if he could give a testimony first. Josiah wanted to share with the church about how Jesus had answered his prayer for courage. I had almost forgotten about Josiah bringing his fears to Jesus before the trip. God really had done a miracle in Josiah’s heart.
Here’s the testimony he shared with the church in Ensenada:
“My name is Josiah. I am 6 years old. Before coming here to Mexico, I was afraid. I was afraid of leaving my home. I was afraid of going on a plane, since I had never been on one before. But I prayed and I memorized this verse, and it has helped me overcome my fears. The verse is Deuteronomy 31:6. It says, ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them. For the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you!’ I am thankful that I came on this mission trip. The Lord has helped me to overcome my fears!”
On our final night in Ensenada, our family gathered together with our host family to pray. All 11 of us held hands, while the two fathers prayed in English and Spanish, giving God thanks for all He had done in and through us during the week. Our Spanish was still broken. Their English wasn’t much better. But hugs and prayers and tears of joy were the language we communicated with that night. And everyone understood each other. We were all saying the same thing: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of this mission trip.
Joshua Brooks is lead pastor at Wenatchee Free Methodist Church. He lives in Wenatchee with his wife Amanda and their four children — Ariana, Karis, Glory and Josiah.

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