12 Feb Missions – An Infectious Passion
Guest Post By: Jeff Semler-
What is a missions trip and who is it for? Wouldn’t it be better to just send money rather than spend it on our own travel costs?
Every missions team member and leader faces these well-meaning, yet short-sighted, questions.
A long and not-so-straight road from Hagerstown, Maryland, led our 250-person congregation at Valley Grace Brethren Church to Dorie’s Promise in Guatemala City. Our story starts with stirrings in several hearts that blossomed into a shared and infectious passion.
Becky, one of the leaders of our first trip to Dorie’s, puts it this way: “I will start with Proverbs 24:12 — ’If you say, but we knew nothing about this, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?’”
“Looking back, I think my life changed when in college I did a missions trip to Costa Rica. It was there I decided I wanted to adopt. Then, the adoption of Anna changed my life and gave me a heart for the country of Guatemala. That is why I am so excited to take people to Dorie’s Promise. I think when people see, God will work out the rest. I think He holds those who see very responsible for what they do with that knowledge. I strongly believe that Dorie’s Promise is an excellent place for giving individuals a heart for the least of these … and that heart will look different for each individual. I am so excited to watch our church grow in this partnership with Dorie’s, but, most of all, I am excited to see how God is raising up people who are changing the world because of their firsthand experiences.”
From here, Becky enlisted three more ladies, and they made the first trip to Dorie’s Promise. Those ladies came back with passion and enthusiasm that became infectious.
Just like a pebble tossed into a pond, the ripple effect keeps on going. After that first visit, our church dedicated its Christmas offering to Dorie’s Promise and raised $6,900. Knowing that the congregation was committed, we added Dorie’s Promise to our annual missions budget to receive financial support regardless of a team eventually returning.
But it did not stop there. In 2012, we sent a group of four, two couples including my wife and myself. A team of 14 traveled from our church in July 2013 to once again support the home and community. Committed to orphan care, our Thanksgiving/Christmas offerings this year were split 70% to Guatemala (Dorie’s Promise and Village of Hope) and 30% to the Boanerges Deaf Initiative in Uganda. Over the past three years, the original group of four has grown to 42 total visitors to Guatemala, multiple trips from church members, and an additional trip of Interstate Batteries representatives.
Families are sponsoring 13 children through Dorie’s Promise alone. Team members’ children have joined the cause. Caleb’s seventh grade class is currently selling popcorn and slushies to raise money for water filters. Last year, Rachel requested clothes to send with Kelly and Leslie to Guatemala instead of birthday presents because Aubrey had done the same thing and she thought it was a neat idea. The ripple effect is amazing….
In short, one visit to Dorie’s Promise by a team of four women has had far-reaching effects in three different countries on two different continents. God has moved mightily in our midst and continues to move. Two couples have adopted three children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the last two years.
So the answer to the original questions is an emphatic No. Going on a missions trip involves so many intangibles with little cost but with unbelievable value.