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Share Your Story

What My First Missions Trip Taught Me About Humility

God is in the business of growing people and making us into the people he created us to be. The entirety of our lives will be spent growing and learning as Jesus in moves in our lives. We also have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and the work God is doing in their unique story. Ro is sharing a time that God was working on her and the lessons He taught her are invaluable in my own life. It's an honor to have Ro share her story.

I had just returned from my very first mission trip. It was a summer camp in an urban city where we were all there sharing the gospel through various activities, bible studies, and in our daily actions. It was my first one and I know that throughout the two weeks that I was there, God really worked through that camp and even through me.

Entering into this camp, I really prayed and asked for God to prepare me, but to also humble me, change me, and transform me while I was there. I am not perfect, so I knew that there were parts of me that still needed to be disciplined by the Lord and areas of my life where I desperately needed transforming.

Whilst praying for these things, I also walked into this camp with previous experiences in my mind and a little too much confidence in my ability to reach students. At the time, I had experience working with 7-12th graders as an educator and a paraprofessional. I had successfully planned and presented a mini-unit on the Harlem Renaissance that culminated in a project that related to Twitter, which the students loved. With that said, I figured that because I've worked with 7-12 graders before, that teaching God's word to them would be a piece of cake.

Maaaaaaaannn, did God prove me wrong and teach me otherwise.

I’ll never forget the first day of camp. I was so excited to share the word and was certain that what I was sharing would be a hit amongst the kids, because I would be including one of the apps at the time that every one of them had - Instagram. I was going to connected Jesus to Instagram and I spoke with my fellow camp colleagues, who said that it was a cool connection.

So, confidently, I walked onto that street that day, took out my paper with the notes I had worked on the night before and smiled sheepishly before I asked them the following question:

What if Jesus had an Instagram?

I went there and they weren’t having it.

I’ll never forget the grimaces and the groans that followed that question of which one young lady responded saying, “I can’t believe she asked that.”

There I was - young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as my mom would often say - expecting that this lesson I spent hours preparing the night before would reach the students only for it go way over their heads. Students actually walked away from my group that day.

Talk about having your ego bruised.

I turned all sorts of colors that moment and remember feeling unsure of how I could possibly recover from that when I had one student getting up out of her chair to walk away and others who were radio silent.

By the second day of the missions trip, I was feeling down on myself. I went from feeling confident that I could do this to questioning whether I was meant to be there.

I felt like I'd failed God because there I was, going into it with all of these experiences with teaching and connecting cultural things what I was teaching and yet I could not reach them AT ALL?

Maybe I wasn’t meant to be there.

Maybe I didn’t have what it took to be an educator after all let alone work in the missions field.

As I sat in the bathroom, crying out to the Lord and feeling like a complete failure, I was reminded by God that I was chosen to be there. God led me there. I never saw myself as someone who would be qualified to do missions, but the opportunity seemingly fell into my lap - it wasn’t something I sought, but it was something I felt God’s peace about pursuing.

While this truth brought comfort, I was still riddled with doubts.

“If that’s the case and if it’s true that this was God’s will for me, why is that no one is connecting to what I’m teaching and why am I not reaching them?”

“Why aren’t they feeling moved by the message?”

Then, the Holy Spirit revealed something to me again later than evening.

Our camp director would give us brief sermons each night after we debriefed, ate dinner, and worshipped. As we were sitting there, listening to his sermon, the pastor said something that really convicted me.

It wasn’t that my Instagram comparison was just that cheesy.

It wasn’t because I didn’t have flashy things to give away to them if they participated or because I didn’t bribe them to stay.

I wasn’t connecting with them because I was way too focused on myself than I was on Christ.

I was far too concerned with their reactions and how they would respond to certain things than I was with serving Jesus, regardless of their responses. I was so focused on bringing in what I thought would be cool or garner certain reactions and on being the teacher that was able to reach them than I was with simply being a vessel.

To put it simply, I  was not going into it being led by the Spirit and I was way to concerned with reaching them than I was with simply sharing the gospel, trusting that God will finish what He’s starting in them.

This is not to say that finding ways to connect the Word of God to things today’s youth can relate to is bad or sinful. In fact, I believe there are examples in the bible where Jesus referenced things that were culturally relevant to that time period, so they could understand it.

However, the problem was that I was placing way too much pressure on myself and assuming more power than I can bare. The problem was that I went with full of myself instead of being full of the Holy Spirit. I was feeling discouraged because I went in a little too confident about my teaching abilities and assumed that because I was an educator, I could reach them as I have reached students before.

Once I realized that, I went into camp the next morning with a new outlook. I still prayed, prepared lessons, and tried to connect it to things they were familiar with, but the difference was I didn’t expect anything and simply sought the Holy Spirit.

I began praying for the lessons and for God to speak through me.

I began going into each day with no expectations of how I felt the students would react.

I stopped taking things personally when students didn’t seem interested or engage right away, because I knew that God was still at work in that community and that even if they didn’t come to know Christ at camp - one day they might.

I stopped putting the pressure on myself to feel like I had to create the right lesson or no one would get saved that day.

Soon after, things improved tremendously.

I began connecting more with the students and they began participating more in groups.

However, this didn’t happen because I made cooler references to things.

This didn’t even happen because I finally gave up control, prayed more, and was a lot more humble than how I arrived.

This happened because of God. Things began to change because of the movement of God in that place and because of His providence, Spirit, and timing - not because of anything I did.

It’s just that by giving up control to God that I gained more peace and was able to clearly see what God was doing in that neighborhood beyond what wasn’t working out.

I am simply a messenger, planting seeds by sharing the good news. It is only God who can water it and nourish it so it continues to grow and bear fruit. I do not have the power nor the authority to save anyone.

Ro is a believer, happy wife, educator, cat-lady, and self-proclaimed coffee aficionado. She is also the blogger behind Chicken and Bliss, a faith and lifestyle blog fueled by copious amounts of coffee and Jesus. When she’s not working with today’s youth or managing her blog, she’s traveling, taking photography, trying new local coffee shops, and laughing at dad jokes.

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