Life takes some major twists and turns. We get so caught up in all of its craziness. It can be super easy to get distracted, I mean I do all the time! It can feel like we’re on a treadmill and we’re not getting off anytime soon. But then we sometimes stop and reflect on things. Especially when it’s your birthday, you really think about your life.
So last night when I should have been sleeping, I was on YouTube getting caught up on the new country music videos, when I started to think about a local mission trip I did back when I was in eighth grade.
It was 2007 and during spring break my youth group held a local mission trip for the kids that didn’t go to Thailand with the rest of the Church. I desperately wanted to go to Thailand because I thought that the Thai people needed to hear about Christ and how awesome it is to be a Christian. I thought at the time that overseas missions were way more beneficial, not only to the those receiving the gospel but also for those giving it. Overseas missions always seems to be glorified. Don’t get me wrong it’s extremely important, but local “backyard” missions are just as important. For an eighth grader hearing the stories from the previous teams that had gone over, I had a spark inside and I thought that I needed to go. I thought that God could use me to show his light that those people needed. I knew of all the dangerous conditions a foreign country had in-store for a young American teenager. I didn’t care because “God would protect me”, at least that’s what I told myself. I was friends with the oldest daughter of the missionary family that lived in Thailand part of the year and also in the US, so I figured that she’s been fine I would be also. But my parents weren’t as convinced. My dad was in the Airforce and had been to Thailand several years prior and he wasn’t going to let his eighth grade daughter go. My mom also had her own opinions on the matter. My mom never let anyone but select family members ever babysit me or my siblings, so she definitely wasn’t going to let me go to Thailand by myself! When they said no I thought my life was over. There I was thinking that I was going to convert hundreds of people and I thought my parents were being overprotective. My parents were okay with me doing the local mission trip.
So I paid the fifty dollars, packed my bags and headed to the youth room of our church. I was still grumpy about not going to Thailand and I didn’t really want to sleep in the youth room with the other kids; most of which I didn’t know and I later found out that they were only there because they needed extra credit to move on to highschool. I was thinking all about how lame the week was going to be until they started explaining what it was that we were going to do. We were going to be holding a Vacation Bible School in one of the most gang riddled neighborhoods in our county. I had always heard about the area but I had never been there because to be completely honest it was way to dangerous.
The next day we got up, prayed, did our morning Bible study and then we loaded up into a 15 passenger van and we were off. I was starting to feel a little bit better, plus the kids weren’t as bad as I had thought. We were going to be holding VBS at an elementary school in the neighborhood, that way the kids and their families were comfortable with the location.
We got there at around 8am to set up and we already had kids showing up. I was kinda surprised that the kids were so into what we were doing. They seemed to be longing for whatever we had to offer. VBS started with music and the kids were so excited to be there it was crazy. If you’ve ever seen a video from mission trips and the kids are dancing and singing, it’s not just happening overseas, it happened right at that elementary school. I guess I had always thought that because in the US we have so much access to God and church that you just know about him and all of his love. But that week showed me that people right here in our own communities are just as lost as those in a different country.
I was a small group leader of six little girls. In that neighborhood it has a very high minority population and all of the little girls in my group were Hmong. They even spoke Hmong and English, it was awesome. They were hilarious. They were always making me laugh. I believe they were six to eight years old. We had so much fun. For them all to be so little they picked up on every single Bible story. They didn’t want to really do anything but talk about the Bible stories and make the crafts that went with them.
When the Bible talks about having “Child like faith” those little girls showed me exactly what that means. They never put their own spin on it, they took it all in and treated like it was gold! As an adult that was raised in church I can tell you first hand that the Bible is so overly analyzed we start to lose the simplicity of it. If you just look at the Bible as God intended it, you will be amazed at how easy it is to understand. When Jesus was talking in the synagogue there is a reason he was twelve and the people he was talking to were all adults.
At the end of that week all of those little girls in my small group accepted Christ as their personal savior. I couldn’t have been happier. And I was so grateful that my parents didn’t let me go to Thailand.
We must really let God be our guide and we must really listen because sometimes what we think is great isn’t always his plan. When I look back and think about those little girls in my group I can’t even believe how much they changed my whole outlook on life and how it changed my entire relationship with Christ. I can honestly say that God used those six little girls to show me just how important life is and just how lost those are in our own neighborhoods!