The impact these new friends have had on my faith and walk with God could never be replaced.
My name is Matt Lawrence. And I am one of the mission misfit friends who travels with Keith to Belize
each year. This time, he asked me to share the most impactful parts of our October ’22 mission trip. For me it would have to be the food. The food is awesome. It is life changing. And it has opened my eyes to entire new options in the food world. Just kidding. The food is absolutely awesome, but it doesn’t compare to all the spiritual ways God has opened my eyes on each trip to the mission field.
Friends – Serving Together
One of the most impactful things about this past trip would be the new friendships I have made. And that’s common for all the trips I have made. I also get to see others make friends with brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of a culture very different than our own. I have been blessed to make new friends in each ministry location in Belize.
During every mission week, I make new friends and get to see existing friends that I made on previous visits. What do friends do? They share:
- The things God is doing in our lives
And sharing each of those things (and more) is always a great blessing to me. Every time I go, I am amazed at the love and camaraderie shared by brothers and sisters in Christ. And that happens despite cultural and economic differences.
Many of the memories I have made will be cherished for a lifetime. And the impact these new friends have had on my faith and walk with God could never be replaced. God has used them to change me and grow me in amazing ways. It’s amazing how God uses the people around me to impact me far more than I feel I am impacting them.
Another blessing is seeing other mission team members making friends with the people we go to serve. I get to see them love on their brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of who has the most in material possessions. That gives me a glimpse of our Savior working through them to love His people. Seeing fellow believers act like Jesus stirs my heart and motivates me to do the same. How is that being like Jesus? Well, Jesus stepped down from His place of glory and honor in heaven in order to have a Self-sacrificing, loving relationship with us. I want to be as much like Christ as possible. And part of that is getting out of my own comfort zone – away from my material blessings – in order to sacrificially love others who are, in some ways, less fortunate than I am.
I was able to see an example of this while we were in the remote village of Delores, Belize. Our task was the church construction project. Work had stopped because it had started raining. While we were waiting for the rain to stop. And that took a good while. As we waited, I spotted one of the mission team volunteers sitting under an awning with one of the people from the village. They were chatting, laughing, and simply enjoying getting to know each other. It was touching to me because the relationship that was being built was far more important than any building being constructed. The fruit that it would produce is more
important and will potentially outlast the brick and mortar that was being laid.
Loving others can have a ripple effect that can impact people’s lives for generations to come. Jesus can use that act of love to stir something in a person’s heart, and in our own, that can then flow to countless others. We can miss these opportunities because we are often so busy we don’t take the time to stop and show love to a stranger. Taking trips to the mission field has helped me reset my priorities in the way I live when I come home. It has made relationships, and building new relationships as part of the Great Commission, a greater priority in my life.
Matt Lawrence – EquipUs Mission Coordinator
P.S. The new relationships have also given me the opportunity to enjoy great food with my new friends!
[Keith’s P.S. – Matt didn’t tell you that he was the team leader for the Dolores construction crew. And you probably figured out that Matt also loves to have fun. I was not surprised that he started this piece with comments about food! Read those in light of the tongue-in-cheek manner in which they were given! Final thing: There just wasn’t enough room to get the appropriate images in Matt’s post. So, a collage wraps up this post.]