Poland. What an amazing, awesome, and wonderful trip. But also a bit different in some ways.
When people think of a missions trip, most likely images start to pop into their heads. Most likely these images include mud huts, poverty, and perhaps many people coming to know Christ.
But, our mission trip to Poland didn't match this mold. In fact, it was much different.
Now don't get me wrong, the people we were working with in Poland were still very poor, but they weren't as poor as a lot of the people we had worked with before in Romania. The people in the village we were working in (which was called Szaflary) were mostly Christians. Jerry Goss (the missionary that we were working with) has instilled the concept of stewardship in their lives.
A lot of what we did during our time there was just to fellowship with the believers in that village. Our team ran a VBS/day camp for the kids, and several of us played volleyball with the teenagers and young adults. During our time there, we had one young man re-dedicate his life to Christ, and one young woman become a believer.
Now, it would be easy to look at that and become discouraged. Compared to the response that we saw last year, this would seem to be disappointing. But what if we take a closer look? Justin Krehbiel who stayed behind in Romania last year, has since been able to tell us, that of the many we believe gave their lives to Christ during last year's trip, he only knows of one who is really changed in lifestyle. This gives me hope that maybe this one in Poland was genuine. I believe that the concentrated time we spent with the body of believers there truly made a difference.
So, I would like to give you the answer to three questions that I have been asking myself since we returned.
First: “How did God use me?”
I believe God used me to connect people back at home with our group. I hope people were and are able to feel a part of what God is doing in Poland by hearing and reading about what he did on this trip. But, I feel God taught me much more than he used me on this trip.
So, “What did God teach me?”
The biggest thing God taught me this week was how the church is one. No matter the barriers of language or geography, we are still united. I felt on this trip that I connected more with the church in Poland than on my trip to Romania last year. I think that had to do with the amount of time we spent with believers in the village. In addition to us going to the village each day, the believers from the village would also come to our hotel at night to have a time of sharing and fellowship. For me, these were some of the most powerful times of the whole trip. It was amazing to hear each person share, some in English, and some in Polish. The music is always amazing to me, hearing the music in two, three, or even four languages.
Lastly: “How did God change me?”
This week, God changed my perspective on prayer. Sometimes when I pray for people, I feel so detached from them, that after a while, I get discouraged and quit praying for that particular person. Most of you have heard the story, but for the benefit of those who haven't, I will repeat it.
Three years ago during Fuge camp, we were asked to write the letter “Z” on our hand to remind us to pray for a baby named Zachariah. Well, during this trip, we worked closely with that baby's father and mother. The baby ended up dying, but Andrei (the baby's father) and his wife now have a powerful ministry helping the people in their village. It was just amazing for me to see that connection... that from half a world away, I was praying for this baby, who's father I would meet three years later. Crazy.
So, two things I would challenge you with. Get rid of preconceived notions. Missions can take on many different forms, including discipleship and fellowship. Also, when praying don't be discouraged, even if can't see the connections immediately.