I still have this year's VBS fresh on my mind. This year, our church decided to do things a little differently for our annual summer Vacation Bible School. Instead of hosting the usual hundreds of children on our church campus for Bible teaching, crafts and activities.. we decided to take the VBS to the people. To try to involve children (and families) that would not normally attend VBS, were it held on our campus. To reach those families for the kingdom of Christ. Instead of one huge central VBS, we had many smaller versions of it in various backyards, all over this area. A return to backyard Bible clubs.
Of course there were a few little hiccups along the way, but overall, this effort was an amazing success story. Even weeks later, I have all the stories I heard of the different lives that were touched.. lives that were changed.. burned in my mind.
In this frame of mind, I headed off with our group of Roman Road Warriors (our church's motorcycle ministry) on an 11-day road trip to Colorado. It was not an "official" mission trip, as such, but I know the hearts of the people we traveled with, and they are constantly on the lookout for those in need.. for opportunities to share the love of Christ.
Every day, I heard different stories of lives that were touched and I witnessed our group helping the needy. Giving food to the homeless, changing a flat tire for a woman who'd been ill in Colorado for weeks visiting her family, praying with a cancer patient who was living in one of the mom & pop motels where we stayed, listening to various harried waitresses as they shared some of their stories... and on & on.
I will be honest in that I kept waiting for my "moment".. for that person that I knew God wanted me to help.. to really try to change someone's life for the better.
Not that I didn't do anything.. but I just never had that "this is it! this is someone I have sent specifically into YOUR path" moment.
Not until near the end of our journey did it hit me. You see, we were on this trip with not only my family of four, and twenty other motorcycle buddies, but also my brother-in-law. Picture a group of ten motorcycles, two chase vehicles and then my brother-in-law in his 35-foot RV going down the road.
I have decided to be brutally honest here in the hopes that it will help somebody else out there. I did not want my brother-in-law along on this trip. I was having far from a Christian attitude about it. I didn't say much outwardly to my husband, when he told me that his brother would be joining us for those 11 days. But inwardly, I was feeling more than a little frustrated and resentful.
My brother-in-law is not the easiest person to get along with. He is very gruff and rough, has a tendency to swear (and loudly, since he has hearing issues), chain-smokes, is very opinionated and usually very negative. How in the world am I going to deal with him.. is our group going to deal with him.. on this long trip? These are the things I kept agonizing over.
I hoped against hope that being around a group of positive Christians on this trip would change my brother-in-law.. change his heart. What hit me toward the end of the trip was that the person whose heart was being changed... was me.
Day after day, I watched our group minister to my brother-in-law. They helped him with a serious blowout tire that he experienced on the first day of our journey. They counseled him, listened to him time & time again, included him, bought meals for him, prayed with him, gave him money to try to help with the unexpected expense of buying new tires for the RV.. in short, they loved on him and showed him the love of Christ. Did he make that easy for them to do? No... far from it.
Instead of seeing him as annoying, as a liability, as a hindrance.. I started to view glimpses of the hurting soul underneath all that gruff exterior. A hurting soul to whom God was reminding me to minister. A soul just looking for love and acceptance. I looked all over Colorado and the person that God was really wanting me to minister to, is in my own family.
So many are called to go on mission trips.. both domestic and international. God is working great miracles through the efforts of the faithful in these areas. Today I just feel led to remind us all... look around. You don't have to go to another town, to another state, to another country to do missions. Look around. Who is hurting? Who is having a tough time? Is it a family member.. a close friend? You might be just the "Jesus with skin on" that they need to see. Look around.
Sometimes the person God has in mind for you to witness to... is in your own backyard. Look around.