How God Changed My Heart About Missions

This summer, God gave me an opportunity to go to South Asia and work in a café, building relationships. When my trip began, I was just beginning to understand what a life on mission looked like and that God was calling me to the next step in that journey.

Here are three ways God changed my heart through serving a summer overseas:

Statistics became real.

One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of living life overseas is that you inevitably build relationships with others in the community. This is one of the really beautiful things about living overseas because you encounter people from all walks of life and beliefs that are far different from yours. Those beliefs and cultural differences become very personal because they make up the person across the table from you, the person you are hanging out with and hopefully the person that eventually gets to hear the message of the gospel. When we develop those friendships with people internationally, it broadens our perspective of God’s heart for the world.

The “glamour” wore off.

There’s a misconception for missions to be glamorous in a kind of rugged, authentic, no-need-for-anything-but-a-backpack-and-Chacos kind of way. I think I can often fall into this paradigm of missions if I’m not careful.

The truth is that we need to stop defining missions as an appearance to strive for but instead understand it as a mentality that sets the precedent for all that we say and do.

Even though I lived and worked in a place of great beauty and fascinating culture, it didn’t change the element of the unfamiliar. God taught me to talk to him about everything during this time, things I loved and things that drove me crazy. I learned to trust in His love and provision.

I learned to live intentionally.

At one point during the trip I asked God for an opportunity to study the Bible with a woman I worked with everyday. There were days I was skeptical it would happen. But one day unexpectedly she showed an interest in studying the Bible with my partner and me. Through this, we were able to hear more of her story and her view of Jesus. I had prayed about this for two weeks before I saw anything come of it, but God used this experience to teach me about His timing.

The reality is that life on mission, wherever you are, can get messy. You can do everything you think you should and still fall short because it’s not our own efforts that effectively create change, but God Who changes hearts. That is why we should not only pray diligently for the people we are reaching out to but seek to share with them as well. We can’t determine the results, but we can plant the seeds.

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