I took my first solo mission trip when I was 18 years old. I was a freshman in college and received an advertisement in the mail from Teen Mania Ministries, known for their “Acquire The Fire” youth conferences. It was going to be a week long trip to Acapulco, Mexico over Christmas vacation.
I knew I did not have the nearly $2,000 to go, but felt in my heart that I needed to do this trip. So, my first fundraising letters went out (never knowing that this would be how God has called us to provide for our family).
The support came in quickly, further confirming that this trip was part of God’s plan for my life.
The day after Christmas I flew to Mexico and met up with a couple hundred other youth. The goal of the entire trip was to learn a powerful 20 minute drama to share the Gospel all over Acapulco. Local pastors were assigned to come with each team to be able to do follow up with those who responded.
Somehow I was cast as the role of the Captain, which represented Jesus. The picture above shows my costume, blue bandana wrapped around my neck, blue pants, and a white shirt.
That white shirt is what this story all boils down to. The first day of ministry we did our drama in the middle of a fish market. Now remember, I’m Captain Jesus, I get kicked around in the street and literally lay directly on the ground before I am crucified. Needless to say, when the day was done and we had performed the drama three times, my shirt was disgusting. I don’t even think it was white anymore. It was covered in dirt and fish guts.
I knew that I was going to have to wash that shirt before the next morning, so I decided I would just wash it in the shower while I was showering that night.
First, let me tell you, we were sleeping at a YMCA complex. The showers had no roof over them. Literally, people walking on the street could look through a fence and look down on where we were showering. That’s why we showered at night. And of course there were no shower curtains, it was the old locker-room group showers.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Don’t picture this, but I’m showering in the dark of night (I warned you not to picture it)! Here I am washing the fish guts off of my white shirt, scrubbing body wash all over the shirt to remove the guts and odor. I remember looking up at the stars and I said to God:
“God, if you will let me, I will do this the rest of my life.”
The rest is history.
Many current missionaries on foreign fields got their start in missions during a short-term experience. My joy over the last 22 months has been connecting with people who feel called to missions while on their short term trips and encouraging them to pursue that call with all that is inside of them!