The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
One week from now I will be leading a group of 10 adults from my congregation to Les Cayes, Haiti. One week from tonight we will be in Les Cayes.
To say I am somewhat anxious about this trip would be an understatement.
This is the first adult mission trip for our church in living memory (there may have been others, but no one knows). I have sensed for quite a while now that the biggest need of our congregation has been an active and personal role in mission and evangelism; actually getting up and going to help and serve others while boldly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that this kind of mission spirit will revitalize our congregation, open us up to new growth and ministry, and encourage a continually developing participation in the mission to the world. I believe that mission minded Christians lose their gripping clutch on their resources and saving accounts and begin to give freely and generously to help reach the lost with the Good News of God’s kingdom. I believe that mission shows (to ourselves and to the world) where our treasure truly lies.
That’s if the mission goes well.
I’ve never led a mission trip before, not even a day trip to the “big city.” What if I’m the shepherd who loses one of the sheep. What if there’s that one person (or worse, all of them) who come home from the trip disillusioned and frustrated by the experience, and we’re forced to go another generation without seeing the promised land. What if I’ve overlooked the blazingly obvious details in my planning and everything falls apart.
Now I know I’ve said I’ve prayed about this. I believe God will do, and is doing, wonderful things through this trip. I’ve already seen it, and we haven’t even left yet. I’ve prayed, but the “what if’s” linger on. I’ll echo the prayer of Scripture, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”
If planning the mission trip weren’t enough – we’re also in the midst of a search for a new youth ministry director at the church. There are calls to be made, interview to hold, references to check, and here I’m going to be gone in a week – and the youth ministry programs start the week I get back.
There are a couple of sermons to write, worship services to plan, all the stuff I’d normally do during the week that I’ll be gone.
But here’s the thing. This trip has become such a part of my life, I’m dreaming about it now. I actually wake up in the morning having vivid memories of conversations, and seeing faces of people I expect to meet. I usually don’t put a lot of stock in dreams (“there’s more gravy than grave about you”) but these are different. I’m billing this trip as a “relationship building mission,” opening doors and building friendships for future missions. I wonder if maybe the Holy Spirit isn’t already building those bridges, opening those doors, establishing those friendships. Oh, I pray that is the case.
I know I say I am anxious, but tonight, again, I will bring these things before the Lord with prayer and thanksgiving; and I will let His peace, His peace which surpasses my understanding, my comprehension, that peace will guard my heart and mind.