Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Poland and Slovakia Mission Trip Reflections

            First of all, if you haven't already, check out the recap video above, and the slideshow video below.
            So, after having a week to reflect, here are a few of the major themes that I saw on this trip, along with a few things the Lord showed me throughout the week.
            During the week, our team (along with the translators) studied the book of Ephesians. We would read a chapter each day, and then discuss the chapter as a group before breakfast each morning. Several of the lessons I learned during the week were directly related to the passages we were studying.
The first major theme I saw throughout the week was the incredible unity of the church surrounding us. Not any one particular church, but THE Church, the body of Christ. The first Sunday we were in Poland, we had the privilege to worship in a Polish church in Nowy Targ. Not only were there Polish people worshipping in this church, but there were also several Roma from the village of Szaflary where we worked during the first part of the week. Knowing the history of discrimination against the Roma people by the Polish, it was a blessing, and a testimony to the difference that Christ can make, to see the Polish and Roma people worshipping side by side in both the Polish and Roma languages. I thought it was also interesting to see the loving way in which our Polish translators interacted with the Roma. It was evident that the love of Christ, and the “unity of the Spirit,” was there. Also, one night, the pastor of the local Polish congregation drove to our lodge to join us for our evening lodge worship service. I was particularly touched to see him there, knowing a little bit about the Polish history, and the fact that he had given up his evening to spend time with the Roma.

Another aspect of unity I saw was the way in which the believers in Szaflary helped our team in its outreach to the Roma village in Slovakia. Our team faced a major obstacle in Slovakia. Namely, we had no Slovakian translators, and, even if we did, we were not assured that the Roma in Slovakia would speak Slovak. Fortunately, we were blessed to have several of the believers from the village in Szaflary travel with us to Slovakia. To communicate, one member of our team would speak in English to a Polish translator, who would then translate into Polish, and from there, one of the believing Roma who had traveled with us would translate from Polish into the native Roma language. This was a huge help to us, and, over time, the Roma from Poland (and the Polish translators as well) began to share with the Slovakian Roma without the need for any of our team to say anything that needed translating.
Second, I want to talk a little bit about the important role that prayer and flexibility played on this trip. Doug always talks about how important it is to be flexible while on a mission trip. And not only flexible, but fluid. If something is only flexible, it will break if it is flexed enough times. A fluid however, will adapt and take the shape of the container (or in our case, the situation and the circumstances) in which it is placed. On this trip, we really saw the need for flexibility fleshed out, especially during our two days in Slovakia. Having an organized and well ordered plan is nice, but in some situations it is impossible. Jerry told us from the very beginning that he would not take us anywhere he really thought was dangerous, but that we needed to be very careful. There were approximately 1700 Roma in this village, and only 30 of us. We didn’t want to do anything that might upset the general mood of the village. We were the first evangelical group to ever enter this village, and probably the first Americans that most of the Roma in this village had ever seen in person. We didn’t even know if we would be accepted when we arrived at the village. Jerry had tried to contact his “person of peace,” but had been unable to reach her on the phone. So, before we left the lodge, we gathered in small groups, asking the Lord’s protection and guidance for the day. Then, not knowing what would happen, we loaded into the vans and began our trek into Slovakia. When we arrived, Jerry instructed us to stay in the vans until he had made contact with the person of peace, and had a general handle on the mood of the village. As it turned out, we couldn’t have had a better reception. This really demonstrated to me the power of prayer. We had prayed for protection, and the Lord had granted it.
Finally, during this mission trip, I was stretched beyond my comfort zone. Those of you who know me, know that my interests do not exactly fall in line with those of other teenagers. I’m not musical, I don’t play sports, and I don’t enjoy being in front of other people.
One of the primary ways our team ministered while in Poland and Slovakia was through sports – particularly soccer and volleyball. I would do my best to participate despite my dismal level of sporting ability. I think I managed to make a few kids laugh through a couple of my comical attempts.
Another way our team ministered during this week was through music. There were many times when someone would pull out a guitar and begin singing as song. I would do my best to hum along, but knew that this definitely was not the area of ministry I was called to.
I knew God must have had some specific purpose for me on this trip, because he opened many doors for me to go. I believe this purpose was two-fold.
First, on the last day we were to be in Slovakia, Doug asked me if I would share the gospel after the Redeemer skit which we would perform several times each day. Now, speaking in front of people is normally outside the bounds of my comfort zone, but I had prayed about this beforehand, and had decided that, if Doug asked, I would do it. “Plus, you’ll be speaking through two interpreters, so it will be easier,” Doug said. Despite these words of encouragement, I was still very nervous as I shared. But, I do think the Holy Spirit moved as the team performed the skit and the gospel was shared.
Finally, I truly believe that this blog and my “media ministry” have been vital pieces of my God-given purpose on all three of the mission trips I have been on. I hope it has allowed people back at home, and around the world to feel as though they are a part of the trip, be able to pray more effectively and specifically, and maybe even interest them on going on a short term mission trip themselves. The viewership has been awesome, and if you read this blog I would love to hear from you! Sound off in the comments below, or contact me via:

As you can probably already tell, I took lots of panoramas while we were in Poland. You can check them all out on Photosynth here.

Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment