God's sense of humor is really funny sometimes.
Over four and a half years ago I told God that I would never go to Cambodia.
Four and a half years later, I am here for the second time in only a matter of six months!
Last time God sent me here to glorify him by serving in safe houses for girls rescued from the sex trade. This time God has sent me to bring hope to girls with Dress a Girl Around the World. Each day we travel to a different village where there is already a ministry to serve the children in the area. This has been one of the greatest encouragements to me! I am a pessimist (whether by nature or learned I do not know) and it is easy to become discouraged when I observe and experience the depths of depravity humanity indulges. By partnering with a new ministry every day, God is showing me that He is victorious! He is good, and He has not forgotten.
He has also been whispering something very important into my heart as well, something that is essential if we are to do what needs to be done for Jesus to come back in this lifetime. He is causing me to reflect on past conversations, past experiences, things that I have heard others say, and things that I have said myself. Have you ever been talking with someone after they come back from a mission trip and hear them say...
"It was an amazing experience!"
"It was such a great way to serve!"
Or anything else to that affect?
I know I definitely have! And I have said similar things to people that have just come back from a trip.
But it has always rubbed me the wrong way. Every time I hear it, every time I say it. It never feels right. I say those things as if to pacify some sort of social curtosy to make the other person feel good about supporting my trip, or to make him/her feel great about going on his/hers. But it does not suffice. It always feels awkward when I say it, and I always feel like something is wrong when someone comes across comfortable saying it.
When did mission trips turn into another way to experience the world?
How have we taken something that was only supposed to glorify God, and made it about us?
The Apostles did not go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaira, and the ends of the earth because they wanted to have an "amazing experience." They were killed for the Gospel, remember? Would you die for the Gospel? Would you be tortured for the Gospel? Would you suffer poverty, starvation, homelessness, imprissonment, or illness for the Gospel?
Now before you say "yes" because you had an amazing worship experience on Sunday, would you still go on that Mexico or Africa or India or China or Cambodia trip knowing that you would suffer at least one of the ailments the Apostles did? Consult the previous paragraph again before you answer.
Do you want to know my honest answer?
I do not know.
I want to say yes, but if I am honest with myself, I think that I would recant before being tortured for the Gospel.
That is not good enough for God: He wants ALL of me! ALL of me. Thank goodness for his mercy and patience, being willing to grow and develop me instead of just casting me to the side. But this is honestly what God wants from us: complete devotion.
Being on Logos Hope has been such a blessing! Four hundred believers from around the world, living together in ridiculously close corridors, serving countless communities, and all to spread the Gospel. It makes me think of so many friends back home whose hearts beat for the Gospel. What would it look like if everyone in the world who claims Christ's name were actually in love with the Gospel?
Our "churches" need to stop worrying about programs and attendence and how to get people into a building. But the Church needs to start diving into God's heart through prayer and worship, and allow ourselves to be transformed. Our higheset calling in life is not to have another website or build another youth building. Our highest calling is not to make a better outreach or have bigger services or sell more copies of our book. Our highest calling in life is to know the heart of God! If we are truly pursuing God's heart, everything else will fall into place.
So this is my prayer: that your heart and mine would beat, but only for the Gospel. That we would be wholeheartedly committed, fiercely devoted, and overwhelmingly in Love with Jesus. That we would have no desire outside of him; that offering the Gospel to others would give us surpassing joy; and that we would seek out death, death to ourselves and life in Christ. Because honestly, if we have already died to ourselves in our hearts and souls, physically dying for the Gospel is nothing but an honor.
"If death is victory, how afraid of life should we be?" --Breathing Blood, Oh Sleeper
"Love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment. True Love is a choice you must make and you are the one that I have set my heart to choose, as long as I live I swear I'll see this through." --The Weight, Thrice