How God Used My First International Ministry Trip
In the summer of 2005, I had the joy of serving the Lord for the first time in another country. I remember my time in Trinidad like it was yesterday. The Lord used those 8 days to dramatically impact my life. I wanted to share a testimony of how the Lord used this opportunity in my life so that you might consider making an international ministry trip a priority in 2018. And yes, that is 15-year-old Cody in the picture.
What God Did
Serving the Lord in Trinidad during the summer of 2005 gave me many things, but here are three I remember most vividly:
A Passion for Ministry
Spending an entire week doing nothing but ministry is an incredible experience. When I went to Trinidad, I didn’t have to think about homework or chores. Whatever I had to do the next week when I returned home somehow became irrelevant. I was freed up to focus on loving God and loving people without potential for distraction.
Having a week of concentrated ministry ignited a passion for ministry in my soul. This is one of the main things the Lord used to begin creating a desire in my heart for pastoral ministry. I remember thinking, “Who wouldn’t want to do this all day every day?” While it would be many years before I became a pastor, the Lord gave me a greater passion for ministry that week which began to impact the way I interacted with family, people at my school, and people in my community.
An Understanding of Sin
Before going to Trinidad, I had an academic understanding of sin. I knew some of what the Bible had to say about sin and I agreed with the information. Yes, I knew sin personally and I experienced the pain that sin causes. But stepping off that plane and seeing a country filled with poverty, orphans, and homeless people radically altered the way I understood the devastation of sin.
Sin can be deceptive. It likes to stay hidden so we don’t deal with it. That summer in Trinidad, the effects of sin were tangible. I remember leaving the country overwhelmed and brokenhearted not only for those in Trinidad that are affected by sin, but also acknowledging my own sinfulness and recognizing that my sin contributes to the damage and destruction that we see in the world.
A Longing for Heaven
There is something special about worshiping the Lord in a different culture surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ who worship the Lord in a unique way. In Trinidad, we worshiped with steel pans. And. It. Was. AWESOME! Singing, dancing, joy, and excitement filled the room. Seeing how other faithful followers of Jesus from another culture worship the Lord made me long for heaven.
Since being in Trinidad, I have had the joy of serving the Lord in many other cultures and in many other languages. It is one of the most beautiful sights and sounds to see and hear people worshiping in a different way and with different words knowing that my God is their God and our God is glorified in all of it.
What About You?
As you begin to think about your calendar in 2018, I want to invite you to consider making a Beyond Our Walls international ministry trip a priority. Even more than what the Lord might do in your life, you will have the opportunity to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pouring yourself out. Serving faithfully. Giving of yourself to love others. This is what ministry is all about. All that I listed above is a byproduct of joyfully joining the Lord in his work. After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).