Updated: Apr 6, 2022
At 5:40 on a Friday morning, I watched as the palm trees quickly were replaced with crepe myrtles and magnolias. Back to East Texas- and with a lot to reflect on. My spring break mission trip was one of those very full weeks where the highs were soaring and the lows were devastating. I hardly know how to unpack it all.
That Thursday, we celebrated baptisms. If I heard correctly, there were 58 people that got baptized- among whom were two from my school who wanted to take that step of obedience and declare their faith proudly! It was super cool to watch and be a part of, because it was on the beach- just like how John the Baptist baptized people. Those who were baptized made their way out in the freezing water, but the crowd was so big I could hardly see what was happening. The only way I knew there was another baptism was a shout of victory from the water that spread to the sand.
Our last night, we continued to provide van rides and pancakes to spring breakers, sharing the gospel at every turn. It’s funny how showing a little kindness often left people confused. “Why would you do this? Why would you give up your spring break when you could just have fun?” This was a question we got a lot near the end. I’d ask them a question, too: “If I told you that there was one thing that you could have that would perfectly satisfy you and give you joy for your whole life, what would you give?” “Well… everything.”
I agreed with them. “Exactly. THIS is my God. This God that I serve, He has given us everything we could ever need or hope for. He has perfectly satisfied us, and he renews us day by day. He gives us grace we don’t deserve. What would I give if I could have this kind of love? Everything. Absolutely everything. THAT is why we are doing this. We want you to know the joy that we have.”
Others cursed us out or made fun of us for our Christianity. We had one guy apologize to us for how his friends had been treating us. We told him about the suffering that Jesus went through- betrayal, scorn, beatings, being mocked though he was flawless- all because He so loved us. The least we can do is get cussed out by strangers every now and then.
We had easy conversations and hard ones. Grateful riders and critical ones. Drunk people and sober people. People who were receptive and eager for the gospel and those who wanted anything but the gospel. Some that knew Christ but had wandered. We encountered so many hurts in our conversations. The managers who had a rough and confusing childhood. The one who drinks away his pain because he feels he has no worth. The girls who give up because they don't know they have value. All broken- just like us. And we got to tell them about the One who makes us whole.
One thing this trip reminded me of is the power of the body of Christ acting as one unit, each using their unique gifting. Sometimes, one van would share the gospel with someone. Later on, another van would pick that same person up and answer questions they had. Later still, yet another van would pick them up and answer more questions and eventually lead them to Christ. All during this, there were people praying around the clock- there on Padre Island and back home. It’s not about the tally of gospel conversations, or how many people we personally see getting saved, or earning credibility for having gone on a mission trip like faith is some sort of spiritual resume. It’s about faithfulness to God, and grace upon grace for all of us. He has called us to join Him in the Great Commission, and that means giving everything to share the joy that we know.