“Thank you Jesus. I am finally at peace.
      These words concluded my final prayer in Haiti this year.
      Along with some other leaders in our church, I was recently able to lead a team of 12 people to visit our sister church in Desriveaux, Haiti for 10 days. It is hard to adequately describe all that God did in me, in my team, in our sister church, and through all of us in 10 short days.
      From partnering in ministry with our sister church, to encouraging struggling pastors, to preaching the Gospel in the town square, to delivering food boxes to hungry people, to praying over the sick and the disabled, to building benches for a school building, to delivering Bibles and food and water filters to mountain villages, to watching my own students lead programs for Haitian students and kids, to seeing God protect us from travel misfortunes, to hearing people called into a lifetime of ministry, to leading a witch doctor out of Satan’s grip and into the love and salvation of Jesus, to so much more…
      God is alive and active on planet earth today! And he is working in his Church to bring hope and healing to everyone in ear shot of his Gospel. I constantly praise God for his grace and his glory revealed in Jesus and displayed in his Church! I don’t want to imagine my life any other way.
      It’s now been a week since our team returned from Haiti. So here are my top 5 mission trip takeaways after visiting our sister church in the mountains of Haiti.
  1. Spend less time fixing first world problems. There are so many things that are real problems in this world. People are malnourished. Witch doctors hold demonic power over scared people. Slavery is more of a reality in this world than ever before. The “problems” that complain about really don’t matter in comparison. I want to devote more energy, time, and prayer toward fixing real problems in this world. I want God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done, not mine.
  2. Hold nothing back in living for Jesus. Often times, we hold back from going all in for Jesus because we are scared that our efforts will be wasted, or worse, not noticed. But it is at the end of ourselves that God begins to shine the brightest. It is when we can’t possibly take the credit anymore that God is the only one left to be impressed with. And he likes it that way. As much as we often want to, it is only God who deserves the credit for anything good that happens, anyway. So why not go all in, completely spend yourself til you’re empty, and then watch God work where you can’t? Maybe then the world will see how great he is…without you in the way trying to take the credit.
  3. Step back from the spotlight to let others flourish. One of my greatest joys on this recent trip was to see my students step up and rock the stage that God gave them. They preached at youth gatherings, planned children’s programs, prayed over disabled widows and widowers, delivered food boxes to hungry people, shared the gospel with the lost, and so much more. And to be honest, it was tempting to wasn’t to step in and just do it all myself. I mean, I had done so much to get the team there. It would make sense to continue to do the work, right? Not really. When we work hard behind the scenes so others can flourish in the spotlight, we are empowering others to be leaders. A good leader produces more leaders…and then lets them lead.
  4. Expect great things from God. I don’t really feel like I need to comment on this because God is so amazing. But when you pray for God to do something great, and then he puts a witch doctor in your path 28 seconds later, and then she believes in Jesus after hearing the Gospel, and finds eternal freedom and hope, it’s hard to ever expect less than amazing from God. It’s like the famed missionary William Carey said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”
  5. God is actively using his Church to reach the nations and I miss God’s activity in my life when I avoid his Church – locally and globally. The Bible teaches that Bride of Jesus is the Church, that is, the collection of all believers in all locations who have ever lived. The Bible also teaches that the expression of that in any particular location is the local church, that is, the collection of people in one location who gather in the name of Jesus to worship him, serve him, and seek him together. In other words, though we meet in many locations, we are connected through the blood of Jesus. This doesn’t always mean that every local church has everything perfectly figured out or even aligned with every other church. But the cost of not going to church – let me rephrase – the cost of avoiding the Bride of Jesus is too steep. There is no such thing as a “me- and-Jesus” faith. The church is the beloved Bride of the Groom, named Jesus. And to shun or ignore or neglect his Bride is to insult and wound him. To think, “I don’t want his Church; I just want Jesus but, it’s ok because we’re cool…” is to think in error. There is a great love and necessary experience found in the church for those who truly want to know and follow Jesus. And I’ve discovered that this experience is heightened when local churches from different countries connect with each other to seek Jesus and work for him together.
      What about you?
      Have you ever been on a mission trip? What was your biggest takeaway?
      Keep the conversation going in the comments below!