By Jenny Black, Pantego Bible Church team member On our recent trip to Ethiopia, we shared the gospel with many people through our words, but mostly with God's love and compassion. We saw many come to Christ and many seeds were planted in people's hearts that will be brought to harvest by God in His time. I have a beautiful vision in my heart of entering Heaven to see the great harvest God produced from the short time we were there. Beyond the obvious, immediate, eternal significance that God had in saving souls in the lives of local Ethiopians...God revealed to me many amazing things about Himself.
One of the most amazing moments of the trip for me was when we were on a missional agenda the mission team ran into a snag in the road that caused us to sit and wait in our vans for a while instead of being on time to our next destination! During this time I witnessed God's compassion for one man that He knew was going to enter the family of God on that day in that hour. And what looked like a horrible inconvenience to what we were on the way to do, turned into the salvation of a young man that our pastor shared the gospel with while the van was parked on the side of the road. I literally broke down in tears when I realized all that had just happened. I was faced with many thoughts of how God purposefully stopped our bus right in front of his son that He was calling home. The illustration of the shepherd going to find the one lost sheep was right at work before my eyes.
I realized at that moment something that really seems pretty obvious but had not yet become real to me until that day. God is in control of ALL things. Not just on a mission trip but here in America in my day to day schedule. How many times have inconvenient things "happened" to me and I wasted time complaining and stressing instead of asking God how He wanted me to use this opportunity He created to glorify Him.
Another thing God showed me was how present and at work He is in Ethiopia. As I traveled hours upon hours to "help" and "serve" the people in Ethiopia, God made it obvious there was much more for me to learn from them than for me to teach. God showed me a sick child who hobbled out of his room just to hear the story of Jesus and watch his mom surrender her life to Him. He showed me people that had nothing were so honored to invite me into their homes and give me the best bench they had to sit on. He convicted my heart with their prayer request to be closer to God as I looked around a tiny mud house with no blankets to curl up in at night.
Although many Americans see people from Ethiopia and cry tears of sorrow for all that they don't have and question how God could allow such heartache...I saw God's protection of these people. In there lack of physical things they held closer to God and to each other. They all shared one room together. The entire community spent the day outside being with one another. They were not in a rush and didn't seem to have all of the relational walls up that we have with each other in America. I was greeted on many occasions with three kisses and the tightest, most intimate hugs I have EVER received. No, they are not without God...and in fact they seemed to have something so much richer than anything I could ever buy with money.
The last thing God revealed to me was that although it is great to get your passport, pack your bags and fly two long flights overseas to share His love and His hope with others there really isn't much difference in that and the way He actually created me to live life here in America. It occurred to me that I was so excited about going on a "mission" trip to let the Holy Spirit lead and guide me to help others but my life is to be one big "mission" trip on Earth until God calls me home to Heaven. I was so bold to share the gospel with perfect strangers in Ethiopia because THAT is why I was there but really I haven't even begun to ask God to show me who in my own neighborhood needs to hear of His great love for them...I hadn't even shared the gospel with some of my closest friends and family but there I was in Africa on a “mission” trip. God made it obvious to me that I am to live “mission” minded in my day to day mundane life here in America.