I don't want a cookie-cutter mission trip.
Week one of summer produced more challenges than I expected, but also more reformation than I could have dreamed for a group of individuals. Morningside Baptist Church brought 22 missionaries (leaders and youth included) to serve the community of Brunswick, a place they have been coming to for years. Their week started unlike anything they could have imagined, thunderstorms all week, low Bible Club numbers, cancelled activities, hot bunkhouses, and timid Boys & Girls Club directors. Now, the sentence you just read sounds like a disaster or worst possible mission trip a group could experience…And yes, even I wondered if they would have a memorable trip. But at the very moment I want you to throw away any ideas you have about the way this trip went for Morningside Baptist and the GIM Missionaries.
Let me explain. Day one we walked out of the Southeast Baptist Association (SEBA) with dreary skies, tired faces, and doubts that Bible Club would have children due to unforeseen weather. When we arrived to Shady Acres Mobile Home Park, our spirits were lifted because we saw children already playing in the park and walking down streets. So with the rains already beginning to come down, we began throwing up tents and huddling under our shelters. Students started walking the streets, knocking on doors, and yelling “Bible Club” to hopefully wake up the families. Time began to go by… 20 minutes…30 minutes…40 minutes and no children. Anguish is the best way to describe the many faces standing before me. The missionaries and I prayed “Lord, please don’t let our efforts be a waste. Provide the numbers, not for our satisfaction, but so that we can proclaim Your name and make You known.” Finally, children started showing up, rain boots and all, to see why a bunch of crazy folks were just standing in the rain.
I promised to be honest when writing this blog; I was so discouraged yet also driven to trust in Jesus and what He had planned. Day one ended with 10 children arriving to Bible Club, listening to the stories of Noah’s Ark (what a great choice for our rainy day!), making crafts in the rain, and playing in the biggest mud puddles I’ve ever laid eyes on. The morning of day two was not what I expected: it was so obvious the group was ready to pack up and go home. Grumbling and complaining ( I say with so much love you guys! And I complained too!), saddened faces, and bodies reluctant to get back into the rain dwelled at GIM. I’d awoken in the night with the Lord pressing on my heart “Do not let My people walk away from here in grief. Show them MY PLAN, not theirs.” You guys, I fell out of my bed weeping and in awe of what I’d just heard! I get chill bumps still thinking about it.
MORNING TWO: God showed up and showed out! I told Stephanie and Will what God shared with me, we prayed and asked for guidance, and without hesitation we all agreed things would be different today. I gathered the group into the sanctuary and explained that a new plan had been made. With all of my trust in Jesus, I spoke to Morningside about what was on my heart. Missions is not cookie-cutter or easy. It can be messy, undesirable, hard, and flat out draining. When we have been called to share the Gospel (YES, we are all called. Point blank.) we have to give up our expectations, wants, and preferences. This is not about us. // Stephanie led worship and invited the group to release everything to Him, to get on your face and repent. Ask for the Holy Spirit to well up inside and empower you. OMG at what happened next. Revival hit this place. I saw grown men and women, youth, and children falling down at the alter, praising His great name and asking for renewed hearts.
I’M ALMOST FINISHED: To sum it up, week one was changed after that Tuesday morning. Did the rains stop? Nope, it got worse. Did children show up? You know it. Did I witness the Lord grab ahold of every single person’s heart and change them from the inside out? In more ways than my words can explain. Morningside Baptist showed me the most beautiful example of what really putting your trust in Jesus looks like. They showed me that being a Christian can be hard. Loving others might not happen easily, but man when you open up your heart, everything changes. They witnessed to so many children and members of community, with 6 children accepting Christ as their Savior! Jesus you silence our fears. Your name is a light that the shadows cannot deny. Your name cannot be overcome.
Morningside Baptist Church: I am so proud of you all. I am BEYOND grateful that you were my first ever group at Golden Isles Ministries. I love each and every one of you and it has been the biggest blessing keeping up with you and watching you all change the world. Shine bright guys. Love like Jesus. Give everything you have and lay it down at the altar, and watch God wreck and change your lives. You are a group that loves, and loves well.