Each time I return from a mission or advocacy trip to a third world or developing country, I always come back changed. Sometimes it’s subtle, other times it’s profound. I can’t say the intensity of the change always stays since our daily lives of plenty have a way of diminishing the return, but there is a definite shifting that happens inside. How can it not when you get rocked by what’s happening in the real world? Each time I return I feel out of rhythm and sorts. Like Neo in the Matrix knowing that there was something amiss and finally seeing it with my own eyes not wanting to believe it’s true, but coming to the realization that the real world is much different and harsher than the one I’m living in. Dealing with the tension and adjustment of how I live and how children and families in poverty live.
But the reaction should not be guilt or shame, it should be one of compassion and action.
After the latest trip to Dominican Republic, I was having a conversation with a friend and we came to the same conclusion – anyone who has not been on a mission or humanitarian trip to a third world or developing country, MUST go. They must see the impoverished slums of hungry & sick children, their rickety one room homes where the entire family sleeps and that floods every time it rains, the lack of sanitation, and orphans with nowhere to go. The realities of sex trafficking, AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, and filthy disease infested water. The lack of education, medical care, food, and of hope.
But also finding what we often lack – the reality of authentic Joy.
I wish I had traveled on a mission trip when I was in high school and college. I wish I had gone sooner. Which is why I encourage you, if you have never been on such a trip, to GO. Seriously, GO! You can change the life of another and it will change your own. Don’t be afraid of that – changing your life for the better. I know there are people who don’t want their life to change, they don’t want to shake things up, afraid of where it may take them. It’s risky. But there is nothing more soul satisfying than to allow God to work through you for the benefit of the less fortunate. There is nothing more fulfilling than to empty yourself for the least of these. It’s written in our hearts that are meant to break for others.
Maybe you send money, sponsor a child, or donate items to missions. That is wonderful and crucial, and you are responding as we all should, but if you are physically able, you need to GO.
I have resolved to have my daughter go with me on a trip in a couple of years. She has lived in the reality of abject poverty and need, but I’m not sure how much she can really comprehend just yet. We will go together at some point and begin what will hopefully be the first of many trips for her.
Go. Use your gifts. Use your voice. Do good. Love bigger. Make a difference.