How do you begin to explain the vastness of a mission trip? If you have ever been on one before, you will understand the change you see in yourself when you return home.
So much changes too.
Your eyes are open to a whole new part of the world.
You see realities and circumstances that most people have never even given a thought to. This goes especially for younger missionaries like myself. Most young adults or teens (more than most I should say) have never stepped foot outside of their state, let alone to another country.
But most importantly, your heart changes.
And that's what I want to talk about first. How God changed my heart when I went to Macedonia.
Let's backtrack,shall we? To before the refugee crisis hit media headlines. Back to when the only idea I had about Muslims and the Islamic faith was that there were terrorists among them. When I thought about a Muslim, I associated that person to terrorists. I know this isn't a rare occurrence. There are quite a few number of humans (not just Americans I'm guessing) that thought the same as me.
I had never had a conversation with a Muslim outside of ringing up their groceries at my previous job as a cashier.
I never looked into their eyes and felt love.
I always felt fear and suspicion.
I learned long ago to never put boundaries on God's plan. I have always tried to keep an open mind when dreaming of where God may send me next. But honestly, deep down in my heart I hoped that the Middle East was not on His agenda. And China was always the number two. But still, I tried keeping an open heart to it all the while hoping inside that my calling would be anywhere but there. You know what I mean?
So, in short, I was very judgmental and hypocritical.
So when the refugee crisis hit our media outlets and became the crisis that it is today, you can imagine my shock when I no longer felt the same towards them. Maybe it was sympathy that began to soften my heart. Or maybe it was God using sympathy to soften my heart. But there I was, heart breaking as I watched the drone fly over Syria and all you could see for miles was destruction. Hearing the horror stories from HONY's travels to the Middle East, of these people who are trying to flee for their very lives because ISIS is killing everyone they know and love. The war is ravaging these countries forcing these families to leave all they have ever known and all they own and run.
Suddenly, these people weren't so scary. They were humans who needed help. They are lost sheep needing the true Good Shepherd.
But those feelings didn't truly go away until I walked into the camp and looked into the eyes of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children. Until my heart fully broke for these beautiful people.
When love finally entered my heart for a people who are so in need of love.
That's how God changed me. He took fear and replaced it with so much love.
But not after convicting me of my past opinions and attitudes.
I know this refugee crisis is the center of a large debate here in America. But for us Christians, there should be no debate. And maybe this will help you understand what I mean.
One of our leaders said this at the beginning of the trip and it has stuck with me to this day and I hope you consider it and pray about it just as much as I have.
"Have we as Christians thought that perhaps God is bringing the Muslim refugees here because we aren't going there?"
That personally hit home with me. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, they are all places I have never had a desire to go. And I'm sure many other Christians would agree with me.
Guys, we are seeing something so amazing during this time. We are seeing a mass exodus of previously unreachable people groups now entering countries where they are FREE to hear the Good saving News of Jesus Christ and God's love for them!
WOW can I get an AMEN?!
Think about it for a minute will you?
Mission trips to the Middle East are basically unheard of. But mission trips to Germany or Macedonia? We can freely enter those countries and freely and openly talk about Jesus to Afghan's and Syrian's. People who have never heard the truth of the Bible.
What do I think we should do about it?
Pray. Learn. Open our arms.
Pray for these people. Pray as they travel, as they find and settle into a new home. Pray for provisions. Pray that Jesus will speak to them in dreams and through His people. Pray. Pray. Pray.
Learn about the culture these people are coming from. Learn about the similarities and differences in religions. Learn how to bridge the gap between Christians and Muslims. (I recommend a great video series called___________...I will let you know as soon as I find it..)
So learn how to reach them.
And open your arms, open your heart to these people. They have names and beautiful faces. They are no different than me or you.