There and Back Again
(This post was written by Brad Ervin, Pastor of Outreach and Missions)
Hello Faith Promise Family!
Over the last few months, Faith Promise has had the privilege of sending short term mission teams all over the world – Thailand, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, South Africa, Portugal, and more! It’s been a huge blessing for me to see how God is using the overflow of Faith Promise to share love to hearts all over the world. I have personally had the great joy of being a part of two of these mission teams – Haiti and South Africa. In both countries I’ve witnessed some of the most horrific living conditions imaginable. I’ve likened the area in Haiti to a garbage dump with a city on top of it … and the townships in South Africa aren’t much better. However, as I have reflected on both of the these trips, God’s voice has shared some really impactful truths with me.
1. He is ALL we need. That statement is an easy throw-away phrase for most American Christians, but when you are in an environment and a culture where they truly don’t have anything material, and yet you see joy and peace in the lives of the people there, you know it is TRUE! The abundant life that Christ speaks of in John 10:10 can (and should) be had regardless of circumstances! There are rarely moments as a believer in Jesus more humbling than having someone with no home, no health, and no job, praying God’s blessing on YOU! But that is the beauty of our faith … we are all part of the same family, brothers and sisters in Christ.
2. He is THERE in the midst of crisis. It is very easy to look at places where the economic, health, and living conditions are in shambles, and ask “Where are You, God?!” I’ve got to be honest, that has been me on more than one occasion. But as I continue on this journey of love and grace, I begin to see with different eyes, and suddenly, I realize He is there in the center of all the pain. In Haiti, I see believers come together and share their homes and food with each other. I see an 80-year old missionary who has been giving her life away to Haitians for generations still faithful each day to teach young women about God’s love for them. In South Africa I come across community pastors who have a passion for seeing the souls of their towns enriched, with no regard to monetary riches or blessings. I look with my “new” eyes, and realize that God is working out His perfect will unceasingly in all of these “forgotten” areas. I see Christ followers in the darkest of all these places with a peace that defies logic and a love for others that can only come on a direct line from Jesus. I know that I may never understand why God allows some people to live with such excess and others in complete poverty, but I know I can trust that He loves both unconditionally and He is walking with us all through all circumstances.
3. Jesus loves YOU. This is has been the theme that God has been repeatedly echoing in my life over the last few months and it was so cool to see that same message being shared in all these other lands. In Haiti, the first words I heard spoken from the orphans I was talking to was, “Jesus loves you.” In Africa, from the stage at Hillsong Church, the main theme of the evening we visited was “Jesus loves you.” What a powerful message! No matter what you’ve done, who you’ve hurt, how you’ve messed up, or what you are even doing right now…HE LOVES YOU! Actually, He loves you just as much now as He ever will! You can’t do anything to change that all consuming, one-way love that He has for you! And because He loves you, He wants to know you and walk through all of life’s good and bad times with you. I know that I can trust that even though I’m not still there to hug the orphans, or to encourage the local pastors, or even to feed the hungry. I know that our Father loves them and will take care of them.
There are going to be some amazing opportunities for you to join Faith Promise in a short term mission trip next year! Make sure you check the missions page on the Faith Promise website for the latest news on these trips and how to get involved. I would especially encourage you to begin praying now about where God would have you go and start saving your pennies so you can say YES to the right opportunity!