I was blessed with the privilege to go on a missions trip to Canada with my youth group this July. We crammed 14 people into a 15-passenger van, hitched up a trailer, and drove 8 hours from Baxter, MN, USA to Beardmore, Ontario, Canada. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the Mikeshes, a family of eight who, four years ago, packed up and moved to northwest Ontario, called of God to be a light in the darkness to the First Nations (native) people there. The ladies stayed in the basement of their church, and the guys stayed in the basement of the Mikesh house next door. We went with open hearts and willing spirits, and we had no idea what to expect. I, for one, learned a lot in the week we were there.
We were given a first-hand look into the lives of missionaries, and it was mildly shocking to me. It wasn’t at all what I’d thought it would be. They aren’t really live-out-loud people. They don’t stand on the streetcorners passing out Bibles and shouting the gospel to anyone who passes. Their ministry is in the little things, the everyday stuff that no one thinks of. They know literally everyone in their town, not just names, but backstory too: “Oh, that’s so-and-so. She moved here a year ago after her husband died. She’s French, and you can totally tell when she talks…” And so on. They’ve built relationships with all of Beardmore. They help out wherever they’re needed. In fact, we spent a full day hauling and stacking wood for a lady in their community who doesn’t go to the church, but her husband just died and she needed help. She was in literal tears when we left. She couldn’t believe that we’d do that for her, especially since in the past she’s wanted nothing to do with Community Baptist Church. But because of their connection to her, the relationship the missionaries built with her, she was willing to listen as Pastor Rick Mikesh explained to her that our love for her stemmed from a love of Christ, Who “loved us and gave Himself for us” (Galatians 2:20). Real missions is in the little stuff, not just the big things.
Our main purpose for being in Canada was running a VBS in Rocky Bay, at the BZA First Nations Reserve. I was in for another surprise there. Not only was it relatively easy to share the love of Christ with those kids, they wanted to hear it. Those little kids were dying to know about Him. Who was He? Why did He die? He loves me? Why? One little girl I spoke with, named Jewel, had never been the Bible Club the Mikeshes run on Mondays, nor had she ever attended their annual VBS before. I got to be the first person ever to tell her about Jesus Christ. Our theme was the Wordless Book, and as I went through the colors with her, I watched her get more and more excited. Black – you’re a sinner, and so am I. Red – Jesus Christ loved you so much He died for you (at this, her eyes got huge, and she whispered, “Really?” I almost cried). White – if you accept His gift, you are washed white as snow. Gold – those who believe, His children, have an eternal home among the streets of gold. Green – once you are saved, you need to grow. The kids couldn’t have been more excited to hear what we had to say, and we couldn’t have been more excited to tell them. But that got me thinking: if it’s so easy to tell kids I’ve never met before and might never see again about God’s love, why can’t I tell my friends, my coworkers, the people I care about most in this world? Why is it so hard to tell the lost of my own little world? I need to value other people’s eternity over their opinion of me. You never know who might want or need to hear what you have to say, and God may want to use you to alter the path of someone’s forever.
One last thing I learned across the border was how amazing it was to be a part of a team. I have an amazing youth group, and I will miss the heck out of them when I’m gone at college. This team was phenomenal, and we accomplished so much more together than we ever could have alone. We laughed together, we cried together, and (most importantly) we prayed and served together. We prayed that He would use us to change lives, and I truly believe He did. When we band together as brothers and sisters in Christ, anything is possible.
I was outside my comfort zone so much that week. I am not a social person in any sense of the word, and I would much rather sit at home with my headphones and my book than do anything that involves talking to people. I’m the first person to tell you that staying at home is a whole lot easier than sharing your faith. But we have a mandate from God to share what He’s given us. We were not meant to hide our lights. We were made to shine. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16). If you ever get the chance to go on a missions trip, take it. I promise, you won’t ever regret it.
“It’s an honor to serve,
To join in the fight,
To lift up my voice,
To lay down my life!
Giving glory to God,
Seeking none in return –
It’s an honor, an honor to serve!”