Text: Esther Gomez Herreruela
When talking about Short-Term mission trips, it seems somehow difficult to understand how such a short experience could affect so much, or matter so much. Quite a big investment in effort, money, time… can a short-term mission trip really be such a big thing?
I went to my first mission trip when I was ten years old. Of course, I was with my parents, who, as medical doctors, were part of a health campaign that took place in the indigenous tribes of the Andes, in Ecuador. You could definitely think there was not much a little girl like me could do, surrounded by very capable adults. However, I never felt such a thing and maybe because of it I found that God had there a place for me. In fact I helped in many ways, from helping in registration to play and entertain the local children. Also, I had a great time with the mission team I travelled with and made special relationships with some of these adults; even more, they asked me, as team member, to lead a devotional! And crazy as it sound, I did it. But more than anything I could do, it still amazes me what God did in me. He gave me the opportunity of discovering a different world, to learn about the need and, even more, to see what He can do for others when we just trust Him and go. He taught me that He loved the World, and made me understand that Missions is a natural part in the Christian life, even for children. Above all, I knew Him more, and I knew what was in His heart.
I went two other times to Ecuador after that and then I had to wait years until I could go on missions again, this time as a young adult to a very different place, the northern country of Denmark. Not anymore a carefree girl and after a long time without a mission trip, I had to face new challenges. It was a short trip, just five days, but in those five days God put before me many things I had never done before, and just believing Him, I said yes; yes to evangelize, to share publicly my testimony, to preach in a language not my own… and God was always there. I learnt many things, from the team members with me, from the Danish people I met, from the wonderful missionaries we were with, from God Himself, in quiet prayer times through the trip. After five days, I was no longer the same.
Last year was Switzerland the new mission destiny, and again, I cannot tell about all God did there. It seems incredible how much a small time in missions can affect life. Often, it is not seen at the very moment, but looking back now and thinking about all these experiences, I cannot believe how much God used each one of them to bring me where I am today. Who I am has a lot to do with those places I went just for a few days.
So, back to the beginning, are mission trips so important? Are they worth all the investment? Well, after some years and trips, I say yes, definitely yes. Mission trips challenge you, cause growth in many ways, allow you to discover a Christian love that transcends borders of nation and race, a worldwide family building up God’s Kingdom. And as for me, the number of adventures, the ways I saw God overcoming the impossible, making a way no matter the obstacles… Well, I will never run out of stories to tell.
At the end, all the words cannot explain it, so this is my challenge for all of those for whom mission trips are yet unknown: go and see it by yourself, experience it, trust God and live it.