Today I’m going to be reposting it here on my blog. I hope you enjoy it!
Recently I had the opportunity to go to Ireland for a two-week mission trip. I worked with an organization called OM Ireland (OM = Operation Mobilization), and I participated in their Impact Ireland short-term mission. The first week the teams were given training, and the second week we split up and went to six different towns all over Ireland. During that next week, my team worked with a local church doing a variety of outreaches – kids clubs, street evangelism, visiting nursing homes, and doing community outreach events. It was a challenging time for me, as I was stretched and pulled out of my comfort zone in many different ways. However, I came out of the two weeks feeling very encouraged by all that I had experienced, and blessed by all the things that God taught me. Here are a few of the main lessons that I learned during that time.
- God’s love really does transform lives – I was so blessed to meet many different people during my time in Ireland. As I got to know my team members and local believers, I was constantly being confronted with the reality of God’s transforming love. I met people who had been Christians for many years, and came from normal, average places in life, but were willing to come to Ireland to share the love that Christ had so freely lavished on them. I met people who were local townsfolk, who have incredibly rough and broken pasts. But they are on fire to share the transformation that had come about in their lives through Christ’s love. Each person had their own story of how God had changed them, and it was amazing to see!
- God has the power to unite random, ordinary people – My team was composed of people from 8 different countries, aged from young teenagers to middle-aged adults. Coming from all sorts of backgrounds in life, both socially and spiritually, we were a random bunch of just ordinary people. Because of Christ’s transforming power in our lives, we were all united in the same Saviour, with the uniting passion to share the Gospel. That is what is so amazing about being a Christian! You automatically have a giant family of brothers and sisters who, though very different in many ways, are all united with the same bond – Christ. I saw the power of that bond very clearly during my time in Ireland serving with the team.
- God uses random, ordinary people to make an impact – When the Gospel transforms people, it then unites them, and then it empowers them to make an impact in other people’s lives. God loves variety, and when a variety of united people serve him, he uses it to his glory! Because of how diverse my team was, we were able to reach out in many different ways. Some people were amazing at children’s work, others were better at engaging people on the streets. Still others found their niche in serving practically by cleaning and cooking. But God used everyone’s unique talents to reach a wide spectrum of people with his love.
- God strengthens those who serve him – I’m surprised at the amount of energy I had considering the intensity and busyness of the two-week outreach. During the first week we had at least 3 training sessions a day, covering a huge amount of information that we would need during the next week of outreach. The second week was crazy busy with full schedules of kids’ work and evangelism. Every night was a late night (or very early morning, depending on how you look at it!), and there were last minute changed plans and working around holes in those plans. Under normal circumstances, I probably would’ve crashed and burned at some point due to the lack of sleep and hectic nature of our schedule. But, I didn’t! God kept giving more and more strength, energy, and grace. When I felt like I couldn’t go on, I found I could. It wasn’t in my own strength that I was working; it was in Christ’s. He sees when we strive to serve him, and he gives us the strength that we need to continue. He truly is good!
- God cares about the little things – Sometimes you just have to laugh at how impeccable God’s timing is. I can think of many occasions during the two weeks when he brought just the right person along at just the right time when we desperately needed help. I remember the many divinely appointed conversations we had with people while we were out on the streets. I could tell many stories about all the times God showed he cared about details. He sent just the right kids along to the kids clubs, he provided new face painting brushes just when we needed them, he brought specific people we’d prayed for along to a Gospel presentation – all very little, and sometimes seemingly insignificant details. But not in his eyes! He sees everything, and fits every little detail into his perfect plan. I was reminded so many times of how much he really cares about the details.
I came away from Ireland with a myriad of different emotions swirling in me. Sadness at having to say goodbye to the team that I had so closely bonded and served with. Excitement at seeing how God used us and how he is continuing to work in Ireland. Wonder at seeing how God has the amazing power to lavish love on sinners and totally transform us. And probably most of all, gratitude: for the opportunities I was given to serve and be stretched, and for all the lessons that I learned.
My team and I praying together on our last evening together.