Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. ~ Psalm 33:3
Since my family began taking mission trips last summer, many people have asked us all kinds of questions. One question I have asked myself over and over is, “How do I describe what it feels like to go on a mission trip?” There are simply so many feelings and thoughts, I don’t know where to begin or end.
Expressions used in every day genres such as: too beautiful for words, or words can’t describe, or I’m at a loss for words – come to mind to describe going on mission. However, people patiently wait for an answer they can keep. Something they can wrap their heads around to either be more informed, or perhaps, encouraged.
This morning, I had the delightful surprise of an email sent to me by my mother-in-law. I often don’t have time to read forwarded emails, but this one caught my eye. It is a YouTube link (the link is at the bottom of this post). As I watched it, tears streamed down my face, and I didn’t know why. Emotion swelled up in my heart and I didn’t understand. I’ve seen many flash mobs and am always amazed at their creativity. It would be so much fun to be a part of one some day. I’ve seen many styles and themes and have enjoyed them all.
Oh, but this one was different.
This one caught my heart and I couldn’t figure it out. Then, the Lord showed me the reason for my tears. This particular flash mob describes how I feel about going on mission, though the flash mob itself has nothing to do with it.
Allow me to set the scene. People, all over the world, are going about their daily lives. Without any hullabaloo, grand entrance or proud proclamation, a single person steps forward and does something out of the ordinary. They begin to do what they do and people begin to watch. One by one, people emerge from the crowd, from around the corner, from inconspicuous places, and join. What appears to be completely spontaneous is far from it.
But, they look just like everyone else standing around! They are.
Why do they do it? They are called to and love what they do.
It is the same with missions. Ordinary people come together, each with a different set of strengths and weaknesses, gifts and talents, and together they serve united with one voice to the world – Christ’s. Individually, they cannot play all instruments in the symphony. They have been given a specific set of tasks, and they do them with all their heart. Unlike the flash mob below, short-term missionaries are not professional missionaries. Rather, God equips them for the task for such a time as this.
Consider the sequence of events in this overture: they pray over the opportunity; begin all necessary paperwork, shots, etc.; meet regularly to discuss the overall plan as well as individual tasks each person will have; they continue to meet for months, all along gathering supplies and traveling sundries; they pack and hug family members and friends goodbye; they are off. Oftentimes, traveling with people they have never known before this journey began.
They arrive in a land which may be foreign in landscape, language or culture. They are the minority. Settled into their temporary home, they continue to meet and go over details, supply lists, and prayer requests.
The time comes to serve. As I watched our team in Ukraine recently, indeed, a flash mob began. What looked like a motley crew of disjointed ages and seasons of life, we came together in perfect tune to make a joyful noise for the Lord. We were a band of unlikely people, coming from various backgrounds and unknown futures, but when God, the Master Conductor, tapped His baton, all of our attention and eyes focused on Him. We set aside our lives, schedules and agendas and took our place in His company to play for Him as best we can.
After a two-day flight and a long bus ride; after security and customs and baggage claim and a good night’s sleep; after attending Ukraine’s Sunday church service and meeting many new precious faces – in an instant, right after breakfast, on a sunny, warm Monday nestled comfortably on the calendar, we broke off into our musical suites – soccer, basketball, Bible, arts & crafts, volleyball and music. We were not travelers. We were on mission – with a purpose. We weren’t there to put on a show. We weren’t there for applause. We weren’t there for recognition or reward. Like a flash mob, versus the limelight of a well-publicized event, we were there simply because we were called to be, and wanted to be, to hopefully please God our Father and be a blessing to those around us.
We wanted to bring spontaneous joy. We wanted to break out of the ordinary and let the extraordinary hand of God brings smiles, hope and strength to beautiful hearts. I remained wide-eyed throughout the week, over what felt only to be somewhat organized beforehand, was really something God had a well-thought out plan for. As the Master Conductor, He directed every moment, every step, every word – to stay in perfect pitch with His plan and for His purpose. Whether in loud allegro moments of organized chaos, or in soft adagio moments of prayer and friendship, the tempo of our mission’s symphony stayed in unison for His glory.
We were imperfect people banding together for perfect purposes – to draw others into His symphony of love so that they might find their instrument, their God-given gift, and play it for Him in chorus with us.
A short-term mission trip is an amazing wonder of which to be a part. Like watching a flash mob, and the faces of those participating shine with joy and enthusiasm, so we also felt the anticipation build from the inside out. One major difference between a flash mob and missions is that we encourage others watching to jump in and join us. Children, teens and adults played in harmony with us for a week of blessing. We got dirty playing soccer, got sweaty playing basketball, got creative making earrings and crafts, and had way too much fun dancing. Who was blessed more? Dare I say I went hoping to be a blessing, but was blessed beyond measure. Our new friends’ voices filled the gaps in our choir. We weren’t just a team united, we were one body united – no matter the language or cultural barriers. We were one. It is, in fact, how eternity will be for those in God’s cantata.
The flash mob below carries a tune for missions that I am unable to express with words. Like music of the heart, going on mission touches the goer as much as the receiver. One is never the same when it is over. Memories roll around in my mind like a melody I can’t stop humming. People there have changed my heart here, and God used them to write scores of new music for my life to dance to. Missions has a secret that nothing else in the world can offer. No amount of money, fame, or fortune can compare to a new reason to dance, a new song to sing, and new friends with which to enjoy it. There is no greater feeling than to accept new brothers and sisters in Christ, from all over the world, into my life…forever.
There is nothing more satisfying than dancing in step to the rhythm of God’s heartbeat – which is His love for the world. It is exactly why, for as long as He allows, we will continue to go. To sing. To dance. To work. To play. To laugh. To cry. To cheer. To love. Christ is the reason, His salvation the melody, and the people we welcome in our family, both on the team and at our destination, motivate and inspire us as the harmony of their friendship hums in tandem with ours to the music God is playing around the world. Stop and listen. Do you hear it?
Click here to let this particular flash mob play the music my heart feels about missions.