Article submitted by Gary Wadding, MVI Missions Coordinator
Although I’ve been to many countries around the world, I experienced a first in September. It was my first trip to a country mentioned in the Bible. When somebody mentioned that idea, it shocked me. The Bible doesn’t say anything about England, Ireland, Mexico, Guatemala, etc. But Ethiopia (Cush) is first mentioned in Genesis 2. This thought gave me a whole different feeling. I found myself eating with a “sop” out of a common dish with others, the way Jesus ate the Last Supper. I heard different languages that were Semitic in origin. I saw the people who heard about Jesus when the Ethiopian eunuch returned to his country and explained about the Messiah, Jesus. It was more meaningful than my words can tell.
I was part of a team that taught in two Pastors Training Conferences in Ethiopia. We had two pastors, an evangelist, teachers, and Mr. Ed. Ed said he wasn’t sure why he came on this trip since he wasn’t a speaker or teacher. He loved Jesus, but he didn’t have the verbal skills that would seem necessary for such a trip. Maybe some of you have similar feelings about how you would fit into a short-term mission team. Let me relate how I felt about Ed, as I reflect back on the trip.
Ed had been a farmer in South Georgia all his life. He attended a small church in a small community. He spoke with the southern drawl that is characteristic of his region. He was very humble, and a bit shy about speaking. BUT, he connected with the people of Ethiopia in a way that the other team members never could. We were in an area that was rich in farmland, growing corn, wheat, soybeans, etc. They used mules and oxen rather than tractors or modern machinery. Ed observed elements of our surroundings that related to farming, and the local people recognized a “kindred spirit”, a man of the soil. By the aid of a translator, Ed talked with small groups of men about his early years of working with mules, and expressed a great admiration for these animals. He came across as a down-to-earth Christian man who loved the Lord, and who loved these people from halfway around the world. Ed was accepted as a brother, and admired as an older gentleman. The pastors smiled and shook his hand often, as Ed congratulated them on the bountiful crops in their areas. He helped the team in any way that he could, but he was mainly an ambassador of love and faith. He was a wonderfully successful team member.
When you sign up for a short-term mission trip, you don’t need to possess some amazing skills. You just have to be you. Your love of God, and your interest in the people you visit will be a tremendous blessing to all. Jesus didn’t choose the most talented or educated men as disciples. He chose ordinary people, who could relate to other ordinary people in an extraordinary way. People just like you. Men and women like you turned the world upside-down, and they still do.
Please consider sharing your life with others through an MVI mission trip. Love Christ and love people, and you will be an invaluable asset to any team, in any country. Check out the list of open teams or contact Amber to discuss what is involved in joining an existing team, or perhaps putting a team from your area together. She was part of the Ethiopia team, and her ministry is helping you get connected with the right trip and the right team. Ed was a blessing, and you will be too.