We’d served in a youth shelter in downtown Houston and on a Habitat build in New Orleans where we spent lunches in a soup kitchen, so why did this next youth mission trip sound so different? I thought I was open to serving anywhere, but this would stretch my faith. A border crossing, a language I couldn’t speak, desperate living conditions, and a question of what impact were we really able to make…
That year, our youth director decided to take us to a border town in Mexico to serve in the colonias. The colonias are shanty towns along the Texas-Mexico border, defined by sub-standard housing (most lived in cardboard boxes and shacks), very limited access to drinkable water or sewage systems (the area we served had one puny spigot for running water), and extreme poverty. How would this group of teenagers make any difference here? We didn’t even speak the language…
Sometimes God calls us to the unimaginable, so He can do the incredible
Jonah was a prophet, who had dedicated his life to sharing God’s word with the people of Israel. He was busy doing God’s work and had a thriving ministry. Yet, God called him to go to the one place he desperately didn’t want to go – Nineveh, a city of pagans and the enemies of Israel.
We all know the story of how Jonah fought this call, running away and getting on a boat destined for the opposite side of the world. God stopped his running away with a fierce storm and Jonah asked the sailors to throw him overboard so God would calm the storm. Jonah was then swallowed by a large fish, in whose belly he stayed for 3 days where he prayed and agreed to follow God’s call. When he was returned to dry land, God again called Jonah to go to Nineveh.
What God orchestrated out of Jonah’s obedience was beyond what Jonah could have imagined, beyond incredible. The entire city of Nineveh repented and believed God.
Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. – Jonah 3:3-5,10
What is your Nineveh?
Sometimes God calls us to step into our unimaginable, so He can do the incredible. We’re called to serve everyday in the world around us – at home, in our church, and in our local community – but what about those far-away places? What about the places where we don’t want to go, where life is so very different and foreign, where we feel uncomfortable and ill-equipped to help, where we are forced to confront our own prejudices?
Is God calling you to take a big step and go to your Nineveh? To go to that place you’re not sure makes sense and not sure your heart can truly love? India, Africa, Peru, Mexico, Haiti, or even some place closer to home?
You may not know what you have to offer or why God is placing this on your heart, but don’t discount what He may have planned for you or the people there.Sometimes God calls us into our unimaginable, so He can do the incredible. Click To Tweet
Trust God’s call and His plans
I’m not sure who was blessed more on our trip to Mexico, us or the people we went to serve, but isn’t that often God’s way? We did plenty of manual labor to help build the church there and passed out clothes to the community, but mostly we played with the children. I still remember this one little girl who just wanted me to swing her around and around, let her fly for just a moment.
My privileged teenager heart was opened to the broader world, to the plight of so many living in poverty, and to a love that crosses borders, nationalities, languages, socio-economic standing, politics, and opportunity. I learned from one mother, who offered to share her meager dinner with us, that God transforms our hearts no matter our circumstances. She had little, but still wanted to give from what she had – a true servant’s heart.
Our mission extends beyond our local communities
Jesus commanded us to go out and make disciples of ALL nations, serving broadly as well as at home. While you may not be able to serve internationally on a frequent basis, you can still support others who are going. Consider ways you can go to your Nineveh, wherever it is that God’s calling your heart – in person on a mission trip, through prayers and funds for another team, through sponsorships and donations to local organizations, and through opening your heart to love the people no matter how different their lives are from yours.
Where is God calling you and how will you respond?
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20