When I was 16 years old, my pastor took me to Mexico. He packed up 13 sweaty, loud, cranky teenagers in an 11 passenger van and drove from Chicago, Il. to Monterrey, Mexico. Why would he do that? Why would he give up time with his family to spend time with us, a breaking down van, moving across the country through the deserts of Mexico? Because He believed in us. Better yet, he believed in what God would do in us and through us on such a trip.
God changed my life forever on that trip. He grabbed my heart through the lives of the women and children in a poverty-stricken area of Mexico. One morning when my friend and I had to wake up before the sun came out to help with cleaning, we stood and watched the morning fires being lit on the hills around us. The stars were still shining bright. Something about the beauty of that moment shifted my focus from “me” to “them”. From that moment on, I was different. My worldview was changed. I used the 36 hour ride home to ask my pastor every question I could think of. How could I shape myself the last two years of high school into the person God could use to reach women and children of the third world?
He gave me some great ideas. I did every single one of them. I went on every short term mission trip I could, I read every biography of any missionary I could get my hands on, I talked to others about my trips, raised awareness in my church and school about the world beyond “our four walls.” I spent a whole summer in Uganda. I served. I got my hands dirty. I got Malaria. God changed me from a self-centered teenager into a teenager who cared for the needs and souls of others more than my own.
I am forever ruined. I can never go back to a middle-class, suburban lifestyle that forgets about the needs of the third world. It’s what drives me during the day, and what I dream about at night. I can not wait to go to India. I can not believe I get to go with my entire family. God is good. His promises are true. I’m living a dream that began when I was 16 years old.
Have you ever been on a trip that changed your life forever? I’d love to hear about it! I am going to put up a post in the next few days and share with my readers whatever you share with me.