It’s been a dream of mine for years to take a service-based mission trip as a family. However, with four kids, getting all of us to Wal-Mart is daunting, so the thought of traveling to another country seems impossible. But, through a series of unique circumstances and blessings, we were able to make arrangements for all of us to take a family mission trip to Puerto Rico over Thanksgiving. To say my wife and I are excited is an understatement.
My life was reoriented towards Jesus when, as a college student, I spent the night in the home of some new friends, who happened to live in Mexico. I was on a week-long mission trip to Mazatlán, Mexico over spring break (a very different experience from previous spring break trips). The family I stayed with didn’t have hot water. The mom heated a bucket of water on the stove so I wouldn’t be uncomfortable. They prepared the best food and showed me the sincerest hospitality and joy. And their joy was real and deep. Permanent. Not circumstantial.
They lived in scarce conditions and were greatly dependent on the father of the house to work long hours and long weeks to make ends meet. They chained their Volkswagen bug to the column outside their home to prevent thieves from stealing it at night. All of this these circumstances combined hit me square in the heart, and Jesus came in and told me,
“I’ve got more for you than what you’ve been living for.”
My boys are now 14, 13, 11, and 8 years old, and we have always wanted them to have broad horizons, open minds, and understand their small place in this big world. We’ve also wanted them to experience God moving and His power the way that some of our brothers and sisters across the globe do when they depend daily on God to supply their needs.
As the leader of an international missions organization, I talk to parents all the time who want their kids to know “how good they have it,” and that drives them to pursue a mission trip for their family. I completely relate with this parental drive and want the same things for my kids.
I want their perspective to be broadened. I want them to understand more of the world outside the U.S. I want them to eat different food, experience uncomfortable transportation, and have to filter their water. I want them to take cold showers and to work hard on behalf of someone who can’t do it or isn’t fortunate to hire someone who can.
But, all of those desires are driven by my greatest desire for my boys: that they would know the Jesus who calls and loves and forgives.
I want them to know Him, and to know they are known and loved beyond comprehension. And there’s something about going and serving, and giving of ourselves that creates space for that to happen. It’s probably why Jesus told us the story of the Good Samaritan, in Luke chapter 10. I hear Jesus saying if you see someone in need, help them, regardless of who you are, or who they are. When you do this, you’re loving your neighbor. And, that’s what loving God and being a believer is all about.
Stay tuned for Part 2 which describes more of our family mission trip in Puerto Rico.
Jobe Lewis directs the international area of Group Mission Trips, which also includes Alaska and Puerto Rico. He and his wife have been married for 18 years and have 4 growing boys. His favorite part of his job is connecting with ministry partners in the countries we serve and seeing the life-change that happens when people go on mission trips. He loves being outside, fishing, hiking, camping, and being with his family.