My wife and I have led mission trips for many years. In fact, it had become our passion. We enjoyed doing different types of trips every year, so that a teenager who went annually would have had a variety of life-changing experiences in ministry as they entered adulthood. We were awestruck by the things we saw and by the great impact they had on our youth.
Many times we headed out on our trip with pampered young people, spoiled and complaining about every inconvenience; but we brought home teenagers with tender hearts, a greater appreciation for everything in life, and lives surrendered to the Lord.
One of the teenage girls who had gone on three of our trips, asked if her father could go with us this particular summer. He had never made a profession of faith and did not demonstrate a good Christian witness, but he told us, “My daughter is growing up so fast and I want to get to know her –be part of her world- while she is still in the home.” We let him go with us.
He turned out to be a great help in carrying puppet stages and setting things up and pushing buttons, etc. We also noticed that he enjoyed being with us and felt a satisfaction in what he was doing as part of the team.
On the fourth night of the trip, when we gathered together to recap the day, this father accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Sunday, after returning home, his wife came up to us, saying, “I sent one man with you and you brought a totally different man home to me. Thank you!” He became committed to all mission projects the church presented and faithfully went on every summer mission trip, even after his daughter grew up.
A few years later, we heard that he was taking an early retirement. When they did his retirement article in the local paper, he was quoted as saying, “I’m retiring because I need more time for mission work.”
Gary Wahr, COI Florida and ICA India