I had no idea how impactful my family’s first short term mission trip to Williamsburg, Kentucky could possibly be. I had always wanted to go on a mission trip, for as long as I could remember. But there was always a reason why it didn’t work for me. When I was younger, I had the desire, but never acted upon it. As a parent, I didn’t want to leave my family. I thought a mission trip required a passport, lots of shots, and being gone for at least a week or longer. In my mind, it also meant leaving my family behind. I was waiting for the season in my life when it would work for me. When my kids would be old enough. When I would have the time. When the perfect opportunity would present itself.
When I first read about ZPC’s short-term mission trip to Williamsburg, Kentucky, I was intrigued, because it was listed as “short-term” and “family friendly”. However, I had to wonder how impactful it could be. After all, I have relatives in Kentucky. I’ve been there. Seriously? I wanted to go to Mexico, or Haiti. I wanted to make a difference. But, my kids were 10 and 12, so I thought it would be best to start a little closer to home. Now, four trips later, I am co-leading the trip, and when I exit the highway, I feel like I am at home. Not only do I feel like I have allowed God to work through me, to make a difference in the lives of others, I know that God has also worked on me by allowing the people I have served to make a difference in my life as well.
So, why was this short-term trip so much more “doable” for us? Why is it important to me that our church offers such a trip? It was four days. My kids did not have to miss school. We could drive there. It was much more affordable than longer trips. This particular trip is extremely family friendly. It felt safe. It really met our needs for a first time mission trip. So, with the “doable” part out of the way, there was nothing left to stand in our way. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that our church provided us with this short-term trip, otherwise, I might still be in the talking stages of serving in this way.
Why has it become so important for me and for my family to participate in a short-term mission trip? After all, we can and do serve in our own community, and we will continue to do that. But to have the opportunity to go away with a small group of people, to pray together, to serve alongside each other, to be away from the comforts of our own homes, to not have cell phone service, to not have the distractions of our TVs, our schedules, or any other responsibilities, challenges us and grows us in different ways. It causes us to commit fully to the task at hand. We rely on others in our group and grow as a community and family in Christ. We develop relationships with people that are like us in so many ways. It shows us how alike we are whether we live in poverty or in luxury, or anywhere in between. How we all have gifts that God has given us to share with others to make all of our lives more meaningful. The impact this trip has had on my children, and on the children I have served alongside is indescribable. I waited until I was 42 years old to go on my first mission trip. I am grateful and praise God that my children, and so many other children have been afforded the opportunity to serve God through family friendly short-term mission trips.
In short, I would encourage everyone to make time to serve in some way. Whether it is in your own neighborhood, in your surrounding community, in another state or in another country. Whether it requires 1 hour of your time or 10 days of your time. The time you invest in serving is time spent serving God and seeing first hand how He works. For our family, short term missions have opened our eyes to God’s beauty in people that we would have never met, people that we continue to communicate with, people that we choose to follow on Facebook. It has shown us in a tangible way that God does not call the equipped, but He equips the called. If you are feeling called, GO!
Check out all of our short-term missions either online or in the Gathering space this Sunday after each service at the Short-Term Missions Fair!