Have You Ever Been Afraid to Do Something Because of Fear?
God had a unique and sure way to deal with my fear… and the answer came through participation on a short-term mission trip to Benín, Africa in November, 2021.
I had been to Africa once with Mission Partners for Christ. In October 2019, we had served in Ethiopia. Then there was a long pause on travel due to Covid. The Benín trip would be the first mission trip opportunity post-Covid, and I was so ready to serve again. But…there was a lot of FEAR about this trip.
In the forefront, was a fear of COVID and what that could mean for any of our team members. At that time, the travel rules were very strict, and if someone acquired Covid while in Africa, there was a likelihood that we would have to stay in Benín in quarantine, and I felt uneasy about all of the unknowns about this possibility. Also, I had some fear of Benín due to this country being the origin of voodoo. Honestly, I just didn’t have a good understanding of voodoo and if it could potentially impact or harm us.
I had prayed about the trip for weeks, and with every prayer, God’s answer was a solid YES, time after time!
God Used Unique Ways to Speak to Me
A few times, I would receive a text from a friend with a Bible verse about a specific fear or worry I had expressed to the Lord while praying about the trip earlier that very day. He used friends reaching out to me, saying they had been prompted by God to send me a note, text, call or Bible verse.
I even reached out to a Missions Pastor, to ask for some advice. He had very wise words for me. He said, “Stop staying in safe places…How can you be effective when you just choose to stay safe?” So I committed to the trip, literally, on the last day of the deadline to sign up.
Then the fear actually became worse. There were times, I would cry and feel so anxious, every time I thought of the trip. It was a crazy spiritual attack and I was so aware of that, but it was still ongoing. So I began to fight back! I began to speak the name of Jesus out loud, just so the enemy had to flee. I also began to perceive that God was about to do something huge, if the enemy was trying so hard to discourage me from going!
Volunteering in Benin
The actual mission trip itself in Benín was an amazing and stretching experience, as each mission trip that I have served on, has been.
We set up medical clinics in 4 remote villages and treated 2,155 people in 4 days, and 243 people accepted Christ!!
We had an incredible team consisting of 10 from America, and over 40 African partners who served with us. We worked long hours, we loved people deeply, by God’s grace -we served well, and we gave until we were empty. I remember a team member on the last day saying, “I don’t have anything left in me to give…I laid it all out there.” That was the common sentiment amongst all of us.
Then we got on the plane to head home, and right away I began asking God to fill me back up again so that I can do this over and over again.
So Where Did The Fear Go?
Do you realize that not once while we were in Benín did I experience fear? My fear stopped exactly 3 days before we left.
And it was replaced with a deep sense of pure peace. Just calmness. Assurance in the Lord. Security. A knowing. Like the saying goes, “when you know, you know.” I knew deep down that we were going WITH God.
I fully believe that the prayers of people around me helped to wash that fear away, as many, many were praying for us! Also, just the process of feeding your faith and starving DOUBT. Why should I ever doubt or worry?
In talking with others who have a desire to serve on a mission trip abroad, but haven’t yet, I commonly hear people say that they “don’t know if they have what it takes?” Many say they’re hesitant because of how far the travel to Africa is? Is it safe there? Where will we stay? Concern over clean water and food? All of these are natural questions….but is this fear or concern enough to stop you?
Now, let me share what happened AFTER the trip to Benín!
God Works Powerfully Through Medical Missions
Job 42:5 has come to mean a whole lot to me since returning from Benín. It says, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have SEEN YOU!”
To me, this verse speaks about the conversion of knowing God with our HEAD, to knowing God with our HEART. Truly experiencing Him.
Due to our work in Benín, God has opened many doors for the Gospel. Over the past 11 months, since we served there, many new churches have been planted. There have been so many open doors for the spread of the Gospel. Clean water wells have been placed in 2 villages that we served in. Latrines have been placed in all 4 villages where we served. Missionaries and pastors have been encouraged and supported in their Gospel mission work. We have even seen 3 of the pastors receive motorbikes to enable them in their missionary work of spreading the Gospel!
To be able to fully comprehend ALL of the ways in which God is working things out for HIS purposes and HIS people in Benín, is what has allowed me a greater perspective of what these short-term trips are all about.
Some people will ask, “What can you really accomplish in one week?” The truth is, that the team is only on the ground for one week, but God is not working on our timetable! He is the master and creator of time. His word tells us “A day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). So we may have eyes to see the perspective of what we need to do in one week, but God is not bound by that week.
He is setting a lot of things in motion during that week while we are serving, but really, that is just the launch pad for what is coming in the weeks, months and years to follow. As I have often reflected on this trip, I literally am in AWE of how God used that week in Benín to stir up the Gospel in those 4 villages, and beyond.
And I have only mentioned what God did in Benin…I haven’t even talked about the spiritual growth that has happened to me since this experience, which has been, quite literally, a change in the trajection of my own Christian walk. I know now, why the enemy was stirring up fear. It is so obvious to me now. If he can stop us from going, he will do anything in his power to do so.
There have been several times since the Benín trip, that God has asked me to do something out of my comfort zone, and it only takes a brief reflection back on this trip, to give me the courage to say YES, and remember God’s faithfulness, on so many levels.
I want to encourage anyone who is considering going on a short-term trip abroad, just say yes!
Take a step of faith, and just trust the Lord to work things out. Nothing is too much in front of God, and there is absolutely nothing He cannot do!
This year might look nothing like you planned. It may be tempting to get used to it or grumble about what has changed. But things aren’t going to stay this way forever. There is so much to look forward to! So as this year comes to a close, let’s look at three ways to continually stir up your faith.
1. Encourage Yourself in God’s Word
We can receive encouragement every day by hearing God’s word. (Romans 10:17) Not just during this season or the next–but every day. In difficult seasons or good, by making a habit of spending time in God’s word, we prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally. It can be a challenge to want to hear what is in the Bible or in prayer at times, but when we are disciplined, then we do this. We know God loves us and always has the best in mind, and we love God too…and want the best to be on our minds as well!
Discipline helps us form and maintain the habit of every day spending time in God’s word and becoming trained in it. It may not always be our first instinct to get ready for the day and then sit quietly with God, or to make that time later in the day. But if we do, we are thankful to notice God is still the best coach and mentor! He brings peace to every situation and certainly encourages us.
2. Spending Time in God’s Presence
Faith is so often stirred by spending regular time in prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and quiet time with God. If you have gotten away from this, you can go right back to it and be strengthened once more. Romans 12:12 says to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” When we make the effort to do this, it helps us be consistent in how we hope and where we place our faith.
Discouraging news can be distracting, but we have a certain hope in Christ that encourages us. Time spent worshipping God and sitting in his presence changes things. You will notice there is so much to praise him and celebrate. He truly is good and he is for you!
3. Remembering God’s Goodness
God is bringing us through this season and any other season to come. It’s just like before! He’s answered our prayers before. We each have a history with him that shows us he is faithful. There are people reading this right now who have prayed about a thing and received the answer then, soon, or years later. God listened and did not forget. Not only that, but he over-delivers. So you can stir up your faith by recalling his goodness too.
All Things Work Together for Our Good
It can be frustrating to wait. Waiting in line, waiting for an answer, waiting for the Internet to speed up. We have become so used to being able to order something with a few clicks on a website, and it’s here in a couple of days. But we know we can wait with a thankful heart. God knows what work needs to be done, and he knows just how to get all the pieces to come together in a wonderful way. Staying focused on God and his goodness might not always decrease the wait, but it will help you feel and remember how close he is to you, how good he is, and stir up your faith.
Have you been looking for a way to stay involved with medical missions trips this year? Perhaps you could consider becoming one of our volunteers, a monthly supporter through donations, or sign up to go on a medical missions trip with us! Go to our website, Mission Partners for Christ, to learn more about how to volunteer or join us. Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Have you considered how you–a current medical missionary–might encourage medical missionaries of the future? The pandemic has not ended our ability to reach people globally and participate in making a difference! We are blessed to be a blessing in many ways over the last year. This mercy and grace is continual.
Current medical missionaries might not yet be going on as many trips, but are still able to communicate with organizations and people in some of those places or help raise funds or donate supplies that support training doctors, staff, and patients in places where there is a lack of basic medical care. They are still able to prepare for a future trip and stay updated on things related to where they are going.
There are other things that current medical missions volunteers can do as well! We would like to share with you three things you can do to encourage medical missionaries of the future.
Be An Advocate
There might be medical residents who have not been a regular part of their faith community since they started to learn and practice, but they dig in and their faith deepens. As this happens, they seek new ways to give back to the world. Or there could be a registered nurse who has just moved to your city and is looking for an extra way to be plugged-in to a new volunteer opportunity. A newly certified medical aide might be unaware of how they can volunteer or participate in medical missions trips. A current medical missions volunteer like you could advocate for global medical care issues.
You can shine a light on the different ways these medical missions volunteers of the future could be a part of the changes they are eager to see. Your advocacy may encourage medical missionaries to seek out organizations where they can volunteer sooner rather than later!
Share Your Testimonies
Your testimonies can be the spark that lights up what is already in the heart of future medical missionaries who are not even grown up yet. Your compassion and dedication shines bright when you share the good things you have seen or heard. Not only that, but the glory of the gospel of Jesus is highlighted.
Your words encourage those who have dreamed of becoming a doctor, nurse, medical aide, counselor, or being part of some kind of medical missions team, and stir up the faith of everyone who hears you. You could blog, ask for permission to share about things that have changed since your last trip in church, or find other creative ways to share your testimonies as part of your regular day. You could do something similar to what we do on our Facebook page, and post live videos sharing good news and prayers.
As medical care professionals and volunteers, there are things you stay updated about on a regular basis that other people might not. You could provide education about some of those things in a way that brings hope and clarity to people who might one day become a medical care professional or volunteer. What you share about malaria in a region where there is a lack of access to basic health care could stay on the heart of a person who is thinking about going back to medical school now that their children are grown up. Or someone who is considering which medical field to go into might be moved to hear about how some in hard-to-reach places are accessing eyecare or dental work. You never know who might benefit from a bit of news that you share.
Mercy and grace are experienced every time there is a miracle in someone’s life. It is certainly a miracle any time someone receives much-needed basic medical care when they previously could not. It is also a miracle when someone decides to become a medical professional because they heard the story of someone like you. Or because they experienced the compassion of someone like you on the job.
Would You Like to Learn More?
Are you interested in learning more about our current upcoming 2023 trip to Guinea? We are leaving February 4, 2023 so there is plenty of time to sign up if you have considered it. If you would like to learn more about Mission Partners for Christ, we’d love to answer your questions. We look forward to hearing from you!
We often cover how to prepare for missions or how to support someone going on a trip, but it’s also important to have a plan for what to do when you return from a missions trip.
An experience like a medical mission trip is, more often than not, life-changing. If you are going to experience transformation, you need to be prepared for what it’s like to come home after returning from a missions trip.
1. Take care of yourself physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
You will likely suffer from jet-lag and exhaustion from all the emotional, physical, and spiritual work you were doing on the mission field. Be sure to take care of yourself! Get some rest, eat right, slow down, and don’t jump into a super busy, chaotic schedule right off the bat. Ease your way back into your regular routine.
Also, be sure to create for yourself an environment that gives you time to process everything you experienced. You can do this by unpacking all of your things so you don’t have that hanging over your head and then sit down and journal or think through the changes you want to make or the memories you want to remember.
2. Expect yourself to be off balance.
Many people report being overwhelmed returning to their culture. They go from a culture that barely has their needs met on a day-to-day basis to then coming back home and seeing people who are constantly seeking more and more despite the fact they have so much. When your worldview is changed from being overseas, it’s hard to see your normal life the same way. Even though nothing has changed about your life at home, everything may look different because you will begin to see your world through a different lens.
Give yourself grace. Don’t try to make any major decisions right away when you return from a mission trip.. Give yourself permission and the space to feel differently and decide if there’s anything you want to change about your life in the future.
3. Make more time for prayer than you think you need.
The Lord will want to be a part of you processing your trip. He may want to reveal things to you that you will only be able to hear in communion with Him. And He most definitely wants to be there for you as you grieve what you saw and share it with others.
It’s also important to pray for the people you’ve left behind. Pray for their health. Pray for the spiritual seeds that you planted to start to grow and flourish! Spend time with the Lord afterward and make prayer a priority!
4. Find someone to listen without judgement.
You may feel alone when you return from a medical mission trip. But you don’t have to be! Find someone who you can share about your time away. Having a listening ear will make the world of difference! It will likely be someone who was with you from the start when you made a decision to join a mission trip. Make sure he/she understands a cross-cultural experience so that you can feel supported and understood after returning from a missions trip.
We would love to connect with you and hear about your medical mission trip experience! If you are interested in joining one of our trips, contact us here.
In this week’s post our founder, Sheri Postma, shares about a highly impactful trip where her passion for medical mission trips grew significantly.
Every mission trip experience leaves a mark for different reasons and each trip fans the flame that sparked my passion for medical missions. I play back memories of my time in each country like a film reel — seeing hearts change when they hear the Gospel for the first time, watching the carefree spirits of communities who lack in material possessions but have an abundance of love.
But, my trip in January 2011 stands out to me as being the trip that opened a chapter in my life to answer God’s call. It was when I traveled to Jamaica that sparked my passion for medical missions.
Our team served in Jamaica through several unique ways. We performed construction work at a school for the deaf, volunteered with the Eden school, and served children at a local orphanage. At the orphanage, the children greeted us with their smiles and were so happy to have us there. They loved hugging us and, at the same time, challenged us to games of kickball. It gave me so much JOY to serve God by reminding these children that God loves them and He sees their worth!
I spent a lot of time reading the Bible, praying, and hearing from God. I received clarity from the Lord that my focus should be on medical missions because of my nursing background and God’s gift of organization.
The call was clear, and my answer was “yes!”
There were many high school and college age students on this trip who worked hard that week shoveling and carrying buckets of dirt and rocks. But more importantly, they were carrying the Gospel into places that were searching for hope. Though I knew God’s Word, He spoke to me in a new way that week as well. In addition to those humbling experiences, another reason I enjoyed this specific trip was because my son Trent accompanied me for the second time.
Since my time in Jamaica, I became more actively involved in planning and leading all future medical mission trips for my church and continue to willingly listen to God’s call.
My passion for medical missions continues to grow stronger with each trip I join!
The Mission Partners for Christ team would love to help you experience the joy of providing medical services, treatment, and education in underserved areas of the world. Please visit our VOLUNTEER page to find out how you can make your dreams of serving internationally a reality!
Once you decide you want to learn more and you go through the process of signing up and preparing to go, you will be so excited and joyful about the work you may do, that you wish the first day would arrive. Multiple things in life may compete for your focus till then. We would like to share three ways to focus on things of good report that will help keep the joy and excitement fresh while we wait.
Whatever is True, Whatever is Noble
Philippians 4:8 is one of the most encouraging Bible verses. It contains so much simple wisdom we can continue following every day.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
When we consider what we do as medical missions volunteers through the perspective of “whatever is true, whatever is noble”, we find we are able to think upon what God is doing already that we don’t know that is of good report. He has always done amazing things for us and with us. We can turn our focus to the opportunities around us to do good. Also, we can be thankful for the many ways we will get to serve again as we hope to one day.
Whatever is Pure, Whatever is Lovely
Medical professionals and volunteers are not immune to having a bad day. Everyone experiences moments of being annoyed or tired, for example, especially when multiple things simultaneously go differently than planned.
Before you are under such pressure is a great time to think about what strategies you might employ. Think of it like a tool in your self-care kit. One way to do this is that when ugly thoughts enter your mind, immediately evict them with opposing thoughts of what is pure and what is lovely.
For example, if you are working and suddenly find yourself concerned about how long it is taking to receive your passport in the mail, think about how wonderful it will be to present your new passport to the ticket agent one day. Think of the smiling face of a patient who has just received a good report. Consider the people in a community washing their hands in clean new water. There is so much good news to take note of each day!
Whatever is Admirable
The new year has begun, and with it come new opportunities to grow and use your gifts to spread the good news of Jesus and help provide basic health care in places where people are unable to access it. You can do this at home or where you work while you wait to go on a medical missions trip. All around you are valuable ways to make a difference. You can partner with someone who is already in another country, donate to them, help them brainstorm, or partner with people who are doing this too. You can donate to nearby groups or causes, volunteer to help someone where you are, start a blog, or do many things!
We believe every person has so much valuable experience to share, and we are thankful if you are interested in volunteering with us. We’ve seen many good things happen! Also, we are thankful for you however you join our endeavors to bring health, hope, and healing to parts of the world where people are unable to obtain basic medical care. While some difficult things such as COVID-19 are going on in the world today, there are also many good things going on in the world today too! It’s a big decision at times to focus on things of good report, but if you choose it, it’s also truly amazing! It will positively impact your life and the lives of others forever.