"By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."
1 John 4 : 17-18
I feel like this passage was the theme for the entire trip. In the weeks leading up to the trip, our pastor pushed this verse in our faces many different times. It kept appearing. In our meetings, in my devotionals, bible study with friends, its as if God was preparing me...for the missions trip, and He was.
I had many fears going into the trip.
Who were these people? Would I understand the language? Would they like me? Was I prepared enough? Will I do them justice with the little skill and knowledge that I have? These were just a few.
It was my first ever missions trip, so I had a mixed bag of expectations and assumptions going into it. We would be living in tents like good ol' Paul did, we would be starving for days, we would just walk on the streets and yell to people to repent and turn to Christ, we would be ripping up our tickets and never leaving. But I was wrong. We got treated like kings and queens, spoke about Jesus in the comfort of the resort we stayed in, and made it home nicely in our very-close-to-first-class flight home.
It most certainly did not feel like a missions trip. I had everything given to me, everything served to me on a plate or planner, every need and comfort met, no sacrifices to be made. I feel if Paul or any of the disciples would find out the new definition of missions trip today, they would not understand it.
But anyways, God still worked, moved, and showed up in various ways. For one our safety. We had a one hour car ride, eight hour plane ride, five hour train ride, before we got to our destination. All ten of us made it safe through each of those rides, with all our luggage, our equipment and our sanity, so that was something to be thankful for.
The people we met there, that helped us along the way, were some of the most generous and beautiful people I've ever met in my life. They loved to partake, give, and care for us in every aspect. Whether it was by encouragement or prayer, to a bed and a hot shower, they made sure we felt welcomed and honoured. And welcomed, I felt, the peace of God was ruling in my heart, the moment I stepped on Polish ground. It was so sweet to notice how God was with me every step of the way.
The first few nights we stayed at a hotel called "Hotel King Joseph" and the owners were Christians and inscribed all over the hotel was scripture, verses as you walked up and down the stairs, as you left and entered, it was beautiful. When we got to the next hostel, there was a beautiful private garden that had crosses all over it, and we would sit and have breakfast there. Then when we got to the actual camp, the owner of the facility was Christian and explained to us how he wanted the facility to be primarily used for the body of Christ and as light to the darkness in Poland, he mentioned that he gave the facility over to God after a long journey of selfish desires. When we came back and got stuck in Dublin, the first thing you see from the Dublin Airport is this colossal tower, with the words inscribed with gold, "GOD IS LOVE", and immediately felt the peace over me again, He was with me every step of the way, and it was so beautiful to revel in that, looking in retrospect.
I never understood why they say God is going to do more in your heart, than what He will use you to do in the hearts of others, until I went on this missions trip.
I was amazed at how I found out so much about myself in such a short amount of time. For one, I found out that working with teens aged 15-18 is so much fun! Like these kids try their hardest at everything they do. I found out that I am a relational person above all else, and I crave seeing people smile, laugh, and be joyful. Some of the most beautiful smiles I've seen was from Polish people. I found out that I want to do more missions and explore more of the world that would involve leading people to Christ. I've done a fair share of travelling within the America's, but it was so wonderful to discover the "Old World". Streets of cobblestone, large sections of downtown closed off to the traffic, hustle and bustle of life, and people walking everywhere. Cute coffee shops, ice cream shops, restaurants, jewellery shops, and all other things quaint and hipster. (My kind of city) I found out that I can catch on to another language pretty fast, it also helps that I love languages and learning about different cultures. I feel its also a gift from God to be able to learn a new language faster than the average person could. (Maybe a sign of a missionary? I don't know.) I learned how vulnerable I can be with someone I just met for the first time and they don't really know how to speak english but still be able to communicate. Its beautiful.
As I was finding about all these things, I started to realize that the fears I once had about this experience, were starting to be broken, and I did not have them anymore. God expanded the borders of my heart, to love, to forgive, to cherish and listen. Polish people are super relational and family-oriented.
They love to share, and they share everything.
And I mean everything.
They share they're food, they share drinks, snacks, any form of digestion they share it. They share they're clothes, they share they're equipment, drummers, guitarists, pianists, vocalists. They share the fun, super inclusive of everyone whatever the game, sport or activity it is. They share they're time with you, which is the most important one to me. When they ask to share they're testimonies with you, its not a 5 minute sap story, its at least an hour long journey that they take you on from the beginning of their lives to where God has brought them to in the present, so you do it over a lunch period or over a coffee. I loved how eager they were to share their testimonies with me, no matter how insane or boring it was. I also loved with them for hours and hours on end, there was always something to talk about no matter how much we kept on finding out about each other.
This reminded me so much about my family back home and how closely knit we are. The devil has done a wonderful job of destroying the family in the West. We all have this individualistic, independent, all-about-me, lifestyle in the west that is killing families, killing children, and killing the Christian of this day. We get so caught up in the fulfillments of OUR lives, the achievements and accolades WE desire, and the memories that WE make, that we forget our great commission, our great calling, our great sacrifice, of living for others, living with others, sharing in community, giving to another, and winning others for Christ. I feel like everyone should just leave their bubble once. Leave the western hemisphere and see life in a different light, maybe that'll change people's perspectives on life, it sure did to mine. God did not mean for us to live comfortable lives, something has to be given, some sacrifices have to be made, a good friend of mine recently posted something that I remember reading a long time ago and didn't think much of it until after this trip:
"The ship is safe in the harbour, but that's not what ships are built for."
Poland has shown me how good it is to be uncomfortable with being comfortable, if we are true followers of Christ, then this is not even our home. Our home awaits in heaven with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are pilgrims on this earth, sojourners just wandering, but not aimlessly, we have the greatest purpose on this earth because of the Good News we have to share, the greatest news this world has ever known, but its going to take sacrifices. Its going to take getting out of our comfort zones, popping those independent bubbles, getting our hands and feet dirty, and truly understanding what it means to be a follower of Christ.
Thank you Poland for being the catalyst to a new life of missions and living selflessly.
I will be uploading photos soon of the trip. Enjoy this teaser video for the full Poland Recap Video coming out September 30th, 2017.
Blessings and I will catch you on the next post.