I went on my first short term mission trip when I was in the 9th grade, I think. Maybe it was the 8th grade. I'm getting old. I was part of a state Life Corps team through the Wesleyan Church. I remember thinking that I'd never be able to raise the money to go. I can't remember the cost but I'm sure it wasn't more than a few hundred dollars. It seemed impossible to me. But I knew that God wanted me to go and I watched Him provide. That summer I spent a week with amazing people as we sang our way through the south and served at Hephzibah Children's Home in Macon, Georgia. Hmm......God must have looked down and thought,
"Oh girl - you just have no idea what I have started in you."
For several years I traveled with Life Corps teams. Sometimes they were musical teams, sometimes they were church planting teams. Each one gave me new opportunities to trust God and learn to lead. My first year of college I went to Haiti and got a taste of what it was like to serve in another country. Again, God provided. And for every trip after that. As a young youth pastor my trips were paid for, but that didn't mean that God wasn't going to teach me something. I watched him year after year provide for people who stepped out in faith. Almost 30 years later I can't tell you how many people I've taken on trips. What I can tell you is that God provided for every one of them.....except one. As I watched her struggle to raise her funds and then eventually drop off the team I questioned God. Within the month we learned that she was unexpectedly pregnant. God knew she wasn't to be on that trip and He stopped it by not providing the funds she needed to go. That has happened once.
It really is a joy to watch faith increase. For the team members and for me. Because you see, God doesn't ever stop teaching us - if we allow Him.
Last year a high school junior told me she wanted to go to Guatemala with us. She felt like God was calling her to be a teacher and she loved kids. But one thing stood in the way......
"I don't have the money"
I gave my speech about trusting God and stepping out in faith and guess what? God provided all that she needed in a big, powerful way! Her gift with children is undeniable. I listened to her share in a debriefing session one night about being a little confused regarding God's call for her life. Was he really calling her to be a teacher? I remember praying for God to show her. One of my favorite memories of last summer was standing outside a classroom in Guatemala City, watching this 17 year old take complete control of a class of kids. I saw them "eating out of her hand", responding to her love and wanting to learn everything she could teach them. It was a God moment. Others saw it too and confirmed this calling on her life.
I wondered if she would return with us this summer and wasn't surprised to get a facebook message from her, asking about the dates. "What stands in your way?" I asked.
"I don't have the money"
I reminded her of how she didn't have the money last year either. How God provided. And then I gave her ideas of how she could raise the money, including odd jobs and using graduation money. A few days later she told me she was going. She was stepping out in faith. I was so proud of her!
Last night I got another facebook message from her. "Lisa, I want to share a God moment with you."
Someone who donated to her trip last year received a 2012 contribution letter from Caroline's Promise this past week. They called her and asked if she planned to go to Guatemala again this summer. And then.........they offered to pay for her entire trip!
I love how our Father works. It's never really the same, but it's always personal. He knew exactly what she needed and He just wanted her to step out in faith.
Honestly, I get tired of hearing it from people who want to go on a short term mission trip. I get tired of telling my story - of how God will provide. And that's wrong of me. You see, this year I have a 14 year old who is going on a mission trip and I have no idea how we are going to pay for it. I'm feeling the same things everyone else feels. But we made the decision that he's going. And guess what? He got a job for this Tuesday that will help pay for his deposit.
I think I needed to hear the "God moment" from this student last night. I needed to be reminded that when we step out in faith to do what God has called us to do - He will provide. What about you? What is God calling you to do - that you can't pay for?