A Mission Trip

The bad news:

As I write this, I’m sitting in a small building in the tiny border town of Anapra on the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico. Juarez has been dubbed by news outlets as the “murder capital of the world” (El Paso Times) and among the most dangerous places on earth (Associated Press) due to the ongoing war between rival drug cartels and the Mexican army. There is no heating in the building, it’s around twenty degrees, and it’s only getting colder. I just took one of the coldest showers of my life (it’s never good when you can see your breath before you turn the water on) and the electricity went out upstairs where we’re sleeping, so we can’t use our space heater. We spent half the day trying to get across the border with our three church vans full of donated clothes, toys, school supplies, and stuffed Christmas stockings for children at a nearby orphanage and other people of the community; we couldn’t get most of the items across because of new, stricter regulations on the Mexico side of the border crossing. We ended up walking across, smiling at the Mexican soldiers with their M-16s and mounted fifty caliber machine guns. It’s been a long day.

The good news:

God is in control. Despite trouble at the border, some of us made it to the orphanage, which we started building earlier in the year. The concrete truck came when we needed it and let us pour and smooth a floor for the orphanage, so the kids can get off the ever-present dust and dirt and out of the scorching summer days and the freezing winter nights. We were blessed with a meal from nearby neighbors, which was especially appreciated when our own food was not immediately able to get across the border with us. We were able to play with the children, who are so precious—I would have happily adopted every one—and spend time loving on them. We have a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs, which is more than many in this part of the world can say on this cold December night in the desert. We are trusting that God will make a way to get the clothes and other items to the people who need them.


It’s an adventure to step out of the boat, but sometimes in the midst of the wind and waves is where the miracles happen. This is my third time to come on a mission trip to Juarez, and although every time we encounter some kind of challenge, every time God comes through in a major way and uses us to be a blessing even as He is blessing us. It is both eye-opening and humbling to see the little with which they live and to consider the much that we have been given. They minister to us in amazing ways. It is the family of God as it should be—despite linguistic, geographic, and cultural differences, some things need no translation, like a smile, a hug, or a tear of joy. The kids don’t take any time at all to pick up that I want to play tag with them or race to the end of the street and back. One little girl took to cupping her hands around my ear to whisper to me when it was clear I didn’t understand her Spanish (unfortunately, I was still too slow to catch on, but she was patient with me).

It can be scary to move out of your comfort zone. It can be uncomfortable—and I don’t just mean the military-style showers or the constant dust (which set my allergies into a tailspin). Yet God has not called us to be comfortable, but to be compassionate. We’re not instructed to be safe, but to be servants. Like Isaiah, we need to say to God “Here am I, send me”—and then be prepared to jump off the couch when He says “Go.”

If you have felt the Holy Spirit pulling at your heart in this area, to do something big, something maybe you’ve never done before for the Kingdom of God, then let me encourage you to take that step. You will not regret it. God is moving, and He is doing amazing things; we should desire to be a part of this thrilling Kingdom work and be eager to take major action to show His love to our brothers and sisters around the world. You might just find yourself on a patch of dirt, far from home, surrounded by laughing children all crowding around to give you some of the most precious hugs you’ll ever receive. And you’ll realize there is nowhere you would rather be.