Nothing compares to a first mission trip. Life changes and memories last forever.
Hispanic ministry in upstate New York with a team of four adults and three youth introduced me to this incomparable joy. We stayed with and served under the guidance of a career missionary couple. Four of us knew a smattering of Spanish, so together we managed when we had no interpreter. However, we relied primarily on the local Hispanic pastor and a summer missionary to help bridge communication gaps.
Our daily schedule included the basics of any backyard Bible school (repeated three times): songs, crafts, Bible stories, and games. We used puppets, drama, and group interaction to deliver the story. A crown of thorns—the real thing—received the most attention. Because children are children, and curiosity reigns, we had to caution them to look but not touch.
I used the thorns during my role as a friend of Jesus. We wanted the children to learn how Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection bridged the gap between them and God. The emotion of the drama, combined with sorrow in leaving the children that final day, threatened to drown us with tears as we boarded the van.
At night we helped with outdoor revival services. We loved trying to translate introductory Spanish comments, especially the funny ones about us. A few harmless jokes at our expense broke the ice for everyone. With the salvation of a teenage girl from the morning Bible school, all the fatigue from a week of maximum activity and minimum sleep melted away.
We made a one-day side trip to Niagara Falls, where Rainbow Bridge connects the United States and Canada. Early mornings frequently find the bridge shrouded by a heavy mist that feels like rain.
In much the same way, our efforts at bridging relationships can become bogged down by human imperfections. However, when we travel the bridge Jesus supplied through the cross and invite others to journey with us, we discover genuine, lasting peace.
Dare to cross bridges to introduce others to Jesus.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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Diana Derringer is author of Beyond Bethlehem and Calvary: 12 Dramas for Christmas, Easter, and More! She writes for several publications and enjoys traveling with her husband and serving as a friendship family to international university students. She offers life lessons from English expressions at dianaderringer.com.