For years I've wanted to inspire others to go on mission trips to foreign lands, step out of their comfort zones, and develop compassion towards others who are unlike them.
During a missions conference last month in the community church I used to attend, one woman told me that my photographs of Senegal, which I had shared with the church, have spurred many to join the church's annual mission trip to that West African country. Each person who has gone represents another life that's been changed.
In the church that we now attend, I organized a mission trip to Mexico last spring. I hope to organize another trip to Mexico in the future, but for now, I'm slowly getting ready to go to Dallas with my daughters on a mission trip to the inner city, organized by Global Expeditions. I've mentioned this upcoming trip to a few friends.
After the church service today, the wife of the assistant youth group leader (who came to Mexico with us) approached me.
"My husband is encouraging me to go to Dallas with you," said Olga.
My heart sank. I was both happy that she had this desire and sad because it was unrealistic. It would be such a big leap for this woman to leave her two toddlers in the care of her parents, who recently came to live with her. But she's an immigrant from Ukraine and doesn't speak English. She wouldn't get much from the trip without knowing the language; she'd need an interpreter (like one of my daughters) with her at all times. Besides, I'm not organizing the trip; Global Expeditions is. So even though I was thrilled with her desire to go, I advised against it.
"When I return from Dallas, I hope to apply what I learn there to some mission opportunity right here in our own city. Perhaps you can get involved with that," I said hopefully.
For years I'd prayed about missions and influencing others to serve or give. I've had my heart broken in Kenya over the suffering of the Sudanese refugees, many of them widows, who, for a daily bowl of food for their starving children, are willing to give up their Christian faith and attend a mosque. Why aren't we Christians in the West supporting our sisters in their time of need? I've shed tears over severely malnourished and dying children, whom I personally met. I've played with the AIDS orphans and listened to stories of rescued street children in Ethiopia. And I've been disturbed by our overabundance in the West, our propensity to buy the latest gadgets for our own amusement, to waste our money on coloring our hair or doing our nails while so many in the world struggle just to feed their families.
I've wanted to share and speak and stir my American sisters and brothers out of their complacency, touch their hearts, stir their souls. And I've wanted to do this full-time. Our brothers and sisters in Africa and all over the world work so hard to help the destitute and reach the lost, but they have so little funds – and we have so much. But most Americans are unaware of the needs. I'm convinced that many would help if they only knew.
Olga wanting to come with me encouraged me. Someday I hope to stir more hearts to action. I keep this dream alive while I homeschool and work full-time writing instructions for equipment.
But perhaps, despite how busy I am and how little I feel I'm doing for God, He really is using me.