This summer, I was given the awesome opportunity to serve in our church’s inaugural mission trip. The vision for the trip was to take members from the Youth Ministry to serve, not just outside the four walls of the church, but outside of the country. I was in the group of three adults and four teenagers who made our way to the city of Ensenada in Mexico. I went knowing that missionary work is all about serving, but even in understanding this, my expectations had to be reset.
“Mexico First” was beautifully chalked on a sign that hung in the common space of our dormitory. This was a daily reminder of our purpose to place the needs of our brothers and sisters in Mexico above our comforts, hang-ups, or differences. Unity was the undergirding principal to serve effectively.
We didn’t go as saviors but as participants in the work God had already begun. Our mission was to join what God is already doing and to be united in His purpose. We had to shift our minds from being experts to being learners of the culture, the individuals, and how they needed us to serve. Unity meant we weren’t doing for them but doing with them: from attending church, facilitating a women’s service, conducting Vacation Bible School, and ministering to a group home for at-risk boys, we found our love of Jesus to be the unifying factor that bridged any differences we perceived.
The people of Mexico have reshaped my heart. Just as the disciples ate their fill after feeding the masses, I was overwhelmed by the overflow of serving. On the second to last day in Ensenada, I considered these words Jesus spoke:
Greet a household when you enter it, and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it. But if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. (Matthew 10:12-14 HCSB)
I left my peace and kept the dust. language barriers and cultural differences aside, the hunger to do God’s will translates. The love we have for Him and His people translates. The dependence upon the Holy Spirit to reveal all truths translates. Even with all the diversity we brought and experienced, unity in Christ translates.