Personal reflection by Larry Black, Church Planting Strategist | People Group Strategist, SBC of Virginia
The question most pastors ask about mission trips is, “If my members come back so excited about what happened there, why won’t they do those things here?”
Would you consider some answers to this puzzling question as you travel with me on a mission trip to Bolivia?
As we prepared for our trip, certain team members were asked at random to prepare their testimonies to give to large groups of students. Nick was selected to share his journey of faith. Nick had never shared his story in public, so he asked many of us to pray for him as he prepared. When we heard him, it seemed as if he had spoken in public many times. Then there was Chris, a carpenter, whom God used mightily in speaking about personal brokenness and how God still uses broken people. I wept with joy as I listened, and I wondered, Could it be that these men lacked opportunities like this at home?
The center where we stayed trains young adults in how to be bold with their faith and make disciples. They are sent out each week to communities where there is a great need for the Gospel. In other words, they are sent out to practice what they are learning each week. In these communities, there are children living on the street, abused and unloved. Other children are with families but lack many basic needs. We saw the Gospel at work, and we saw witnesses living out what they had just learned. They truly believed that these people needed the Lord and that the Gospel would transform them. They also provided food for hungry bellies. In the States, people are also lost and the Gospel still has the power to change lives. Do we train believers here and provide them with opportunities here to apply what they’ve just learned?
On one of our outreach days, we went further up the mountain to an open-air market to do an evangelism program. However, the enemy didn’t want us to be there. While we were preparing to set up, a wreck occurred, which caused a small riot. As we quickly removed ourselves from the chaos, it dawned on us what was happening, so we huddled up and prayed against spiritual warfare. God performed two miracles from the wreck, resulting in two new villages becoming open for the Gospel. We didn’t have time to do the program we intended, so our leader divided us up into teams to go through the market sharing Gospel tracks and witnessing when we could. In 45 minutes, we regrouped and learned that God had just saved 34 people. The enemy is at work here in the US as well, but do we recognize his activity and trust God for bold faith and victories that will glorify Him?
TRAVEL AND COST
The cost of the trip required some sacrifice—about the cost of a family vacation to the beach. The travel time was about 11 hours, not counting layovers. We caught early and red-eye flights to save money. It was difficult to sleep on the plane, but we got to know and make friends whom we never would have met otherwise. It’s amazing how sacrifice and discomfort can be used by the Lord in our lives.
I witnessed and walked by faith more on this trip than I have at any other season of my life. I am grateful to Pastor Sergio Guardia at Iglesia Nuevo Amanecer (Lynchburg) and Tim Grandstaff, missions pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church, for this stretching opportunity.
Would you be willing to plan mission opportunities “there” and here that will result in disciples living out bold faith?