What missions means to me.

Comfort zone. A place or situation where one feels safe, at ease, or without stress. Antigua, Guatemala and La Libertad, El Salvador are both about 3,000 miles away from my comfort zone.

In July of 2011 and August of 2012, I spent time in Antigua and La Libertad, respectively. Throughout that time, myself and my peers were pulled further and further away from our little areas of contentment and, personally, I couldn’t be happier. I can almost guarantee that if asked, the rest of the groups would agree as well.

Without the trip to Guatemala, I wouldn’t know that the best way to wash an egg pan is to let your dog lick it clean, how easy it is to break a plastic stool, and how terrified I am of puppets dressed as construction workers. Without my time in El Salvador, I wouldn’t know that I will fall asleep after approximately 3 minutes of sitting in a hammock, that my favorite way to listen to worship music is in Spanish, and that one of my biggest fears is riding in a 15-passenger van up the side of a mountain.

More importantly, I wouldn’t know how easy it is to pray for someone who is hurting, that it isn’t necessary to speak the same language as someone to understand them, and that God can (and will) use anyone for His glory. That last lesson, I think, was the hardest to grasp, but in the end it produced the greatest rewards.

Early in the first trip to Guatemala, our whole team was asked to write our testimonies. After a few moments of silence, my always straightforward sister said what everyone was thinking: “But we haven’t…done anything.” You see, approximately 94.44% of our group has attended my home church for, quite literally, our entire lives. We don’t have tragic accounts of devastation followed by reform. The majority of us haven’t battled with addiction, none of us have ever been burdened by poverty, and the bulk of us have been serving God since a very young age. To us, those facts meant that we didn’t have a story. To many of you reading this, you may feel the same way, coming from a similar situation.

Just to yank us even further out of our comfort zones, we were also told that every single one of us was going to share our story at either a church service or school assembly. From that day on, people were always seen scribbling on the hot pink pieces of paper that we were given to write our stories on. I can’t remember how many times I was asked what I was writing about (or how many times I asked someone else what they were writing about). Most of the time, we kept our stories a secret until it was our time to share.

After a lot of prayers, searching through our Bibles for the perfect verse, and a few tears – we did it. Every single one of us battled through the feelings of inadequacy, fear, and uncertainty that came along with sharing our testimony with groups of people who have been through way more than any of us could ever imagine. Because we shared, some of us were told that because of our specific story, someone decided to accept the gift of salvation. For others, doors were opened to conversations that never may have happened otherwise. For all of us, we realized that God usesΒ everyoneΒ – even the “church kids” who think they don’t have a story to share.

Throughout the collective 20 days between the two countries and two different years, we all learned more about ourselves, each other, and our Creator. Most importantly, we learned that we’re not here to be settled, we’re here to be sent. So now, I encourage you all to live by that calling. Set aside a few minutes or maybe a few hours to put together your testimony if you haven’t already. You never know when someone will need to hear how God has helped you or, simply, how He has blessed you.

About Leah Van Ert

Leah is newly wed to her high school sweetheart and is a church secretary by day and blogger by night. She firmly believes in spending a little extra on high-quality cuisine, sleeping in, and the healing power of a good cup of tea. She currently lives in central Wisconsin where she was born and raised (and, yes, the stereotype is true - we really do love cheese).

  • Thank you for sharing this, Leah! I love missions very much, and my heart is more focused for U.S. missions. Leaving your personal comfort zone has a huge part to do with missions – to reach others and to grow yourself. God really does a work in and through us when we reach out and take steps of faith for His name’s sake. Thousands of miles across the globe or even in the next town over, anywhere can be a step out of our comfort zone – it’s just taking that first step and believing God will do a good work in and through us. Loved this!

    • Exactly, Summer! The point isn’t how far you go, but just that you’re doing what God is asking. And usually that means being pulled out of our comfort zones… but that means we have to completely rely on God and put our trust in Him. And that produces amazing results! Thanks for reading. πŸ™‚

  • Writing down our testimony is a great reminder to see what God has done. It is very possible to make the testimony about usβ€”I learned that focusing on our own inadequacies can be another form of self-centeredness, but realizing just how much we fall short in contrast with the faithfulness of God helps keep things in perspective. And I agree, God can use anyone regardless of background. Thanks for sharing!

    • It really is a great reminder. Especially looking back to see how God has brought us through tough times or how He blessed us in the good times! Thanks for reading. πŸ™‚

  • I think sometimes the best redemptive work God does in our lives is saving someone the generation before us. Praise Him for the fact that He gave your parents the desire to raise you in the church and know Jesus at an early age. That is part of your story! How gracious God is to save you young.

    • Exactly. A good friend of mine always prefaces her testimony by stating that God saved her from what she could have been. And that is so powerful too! Thank you so much for reading.

  • ” we’re not here to be settled, we’re here to be sent.” I love that! Thank you for sharing your heart Leah! I love missions too and it is such a great thing for every Christian to be involved in some way or another (I think so, anyway). Whether across the ocean or here in the US, we have a mission to step outside of our comfort zones and spread the love and message of Jesus Christ.

    • Missions is so, so important! And thank you for bringing up local missions as well… that aspect is so often forgotten in the grand scope of things. Thank you for reading!

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