Story From the Field - My First Steps in Missions
I have participated in our church’s faith ministry and walked neighborhoods in my community to boldly share the Word of God including His many promises. I had never been outside my community on a Christian-related trip since I was in middle school until God put a yearning in my heart to help others by using the skills and abilities that He gave me.
I joined Sowing Seeds of Joy as a volunteer in February 2020 and due to the pandemic short-term missions trips were put on hold. I travelled to Mendenhall, MS, June 7-14, 2021. I am African American, and this was my first missions trip. I was excited to go, stretching my faith and to be a part of God’s kingdom agenda. I traveled in a vehicle with other participants. Some I knew and some I did not know. Once we got on the highway, there was no turning back. We listened to Christian music and prayed along the journey. By the time we arrived in Mississippi, I felt as if I was traveling with family. This was also the first missions trip for a few others.
The experience of living for the Lord was clear once I arrived at the Volunteer Center in Mendenhall. Although I traveled over 20 years while working, I had never shared a room with anyone other than family and close friends. It took me a couple of days to get used to “lights out” time and sharing restroom facilities. I am retired and I am usually home alone during the day and some days during the trip I struggled for some “me” time. I would get up early in the mornings and spend time with the Lord outside on the patio. Each morning at 7:30 am, we had devotion. The daily devotion allowed me to continue to focus on the Lord and I was reminded of my purpose in Mendenhall. One morning, I co-lead the devotion on “How and Why Satan Will Attack Your Mind and Your Body”. In preparation, I read the devotional book, read scriptures, and gave examples on how Satan will attack the mind and the body. It became obvious that I did not know the Bible as much as I thought. I put more effort into becoming more familiar with scriptures to share with others and scriptures to fight the enemy.
I consistently relied upon the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment while communicating with others. I operated in a loving environment of seeking knowledge of what the communities’ needs were and not what I thought that they needed. I learned to listen more and to place others’ needs before my own.
I volunteered at the Genesis One Christian School working with the teacher and one-on-one with a student preparing him for the SAT college readiness test. I read through the materials on the reading section, made notes and shared the notes with my assigned student. He was reluctant as first because he was forced to take the class. After an hour or so, he relaxed and realized that I was there to help him and not to criticize him. This was a fulfilling experience knowing that he accepted my recommendations. I added value to the process.
I also was assigned to the gymnasium project along with a few other team members. The gymnasium needed a complete overhaul. I assisted with scraping paint off the doors in preparation of a new coat of paint. I had no experience with this assignment as I am used to sedentary-type work. At the beginning, I felt outside of my element, however, I pushed through and stretched my skills for the Kingdom of the Lord. The work was finished, and new paint was applied before our journey home.
Throughout the week, I assisted with tasks at the Volunteer Center. I prepared meals, washed dishes, and cleaned tables after meals. The assignments rotated among team members. I learned humility with a servant’s attitude. There was collaboration among the group as we embraced the unknown. We showed love without boundaries.
After completing my facilitator’s training in Trauma Healing in April 2021, I co-instructed my first class while in Mississippi. The audience was attentive and gave feedback to share with other class members. I was used by God to share how the Word of God could heal their wounds of the heart. Many times, we do not realize that we are holding something in from past experiences and how those experiences affect our behavior today.
My prayer team was given a copy of my itinerary and I provided updates throughout the trip. They prayed for our travel to and from Mississippi, our safety on the ground, for my obedience to God’s will, for allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through me and for strength to endure Satan’s warfare tactics. The prayer team was helpful in paving the way for my divine experience in serving God’s people.
Upon return, my spirit was overflowing with enthusiasm, and I had a full tank of God’s glory. I am waiting for God to lead me on another journey where I can share of His goodness and mercies. This missions experience has increased my prayer life. I thank God for His favor and giving the team an experience of a lifetime.
I encourage others to come out of their comfort zone, be obedient and fulfill their divine purpose. It may be uncomfortable in the beginning, but you will grow spiritually and gain more confidence/faith in God.