Monday, August 11, 2014

Got a Testimony? A Story From a Mission Trip To Haiti

Every summer our church sends out several mission teams; some are within the United States and the other is either to Kenya or Haiti.  With the return of these trips many stories are shared with the congregation to tell about praises, experiences, struggles and the working of God's hand in these many places.  When we share what God is doing in our life and in the life of His Church around the world we grow closer to one another and to the love of Christ for His people.  Your testimony is  a powerful thing.  It is unique to you.  No one else will have your same story.  You have a distinct message to share with others.  Here is one man's story of his trip to Haiti.

Worship was amazing.  Worshiping with a group of people from a totally different culture on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean really made me feel small.  It made me realize just how large the Church is.  There are people all over the world worshiping God and it was very humbling.  The thing that really hit me was the sincerity of the worship.  According to our standards, most of these people did not have much.  We too often praise God for all the things we have or the things we get, but the Haitians I met praised God just because He is God.  I didn’t understand a word of the 2 plus hours of worship Tuesday evening, but it was the most powerful worship experiences I have ever had.

I am not sure if I really made a difference in anyone’s life.  I’m not sure exactly why God wanted me to go, but I do know that He really wanted to teach me about dealing with fear.  I have a very, very real fear of flying.  The kind of fear that will grip you and take over all thoughts.  When my daughter and I decided to go to Haiti, I knew the flying would be the most difficult part for me.  I kept putting off thinking about it, but as we got closer to the date, my fear became almost crippling.  I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to go through with it.  Everyone tried to help, but I couldn’t put this fear to rest.   I looked to scripture and started to focus on Philippians 4:13

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

 I thought of our Pastor's recent sermon when Jesus asked a man if he was willing to be healed (John 5:1-14).  Pastor then looked at the congregation and asked if we were willing to be healed, are we willing to surrender all, no matter what the cost?  I determined I was!  

 As we got to the airport, I opened my passport and noticed my wife had written me a note and it ended with Philippians 4:13

 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”   

Later, waiting for the plane, I saw an armband on another team member's wrist which said,

 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

 This may sound odd to some of you, but as I sat, waiting to take off on the airplane, praying for strength and courage, something happened that I am convinced was God letting me know all was going to be okay.  I have a passion for working with people with Intellectual Disabilities.  I looked up from praying and in front of me, a young boy looked back from his seat.  He had Down Syndrome and I knew God was providing the comfort I so desperately needed.  He knew exactly what would bring joy to my heart in that moment.  The boy didn’t say a word, but he truly encouraged me. 

 I made it through the flights.  My poor daughter probably had bruises on her hands from my grip as we were taking off .  How many times does Jesus tell us not to fear?  How many times do we read it in scripture?  I really think God wanted me to surrender all of me…to rely on His strength and to not let fear rule me.  If fear had kept me from going, I would have missed out on a truly remarkable experience.  I would have missed a wonderful and powerful week.   

Too often I have let fear run my life.  Whether it be fear of dying or fear of failing, or fear of what others may think, I now know that I can rely on God to get me through it.  When I got home I went running with a good friend.  We had discussed my fear of flying and he was praying for me.  He had a gift for me.  He had gotten me a running shirt, and you’ll never guess what it said on the back?

 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

  Each of us has a story to tell and I think it is safe to say that God worked in each of our hearts during that week.

I am thankful for friends like this at church and in my community who are bold enough to show the world their imperfect selves so that our Perfect Savior Jesus Christ is made know through them.

"You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 
 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. 
 Instead they put in on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 
 In the same way, let your light shine before men, 
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  
Matthew 5:14-16
View from our front steps of God's handiwork

With love,

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