Gap T-Shirts, Water, And Bed Bugs
Cassidy Hall is thirteen. She's cute and perky and wearing a hot pink T-shirt with jeans that look brand new. She could be a model for Gap. She exudes the all-American girl look. And she probably has an all-American life with a bedroom to herself, a closet bursting with clothes, and plentiful meals and snacks anytime she wants. I don't know. I didn't ask, but it sure appears that way.
I just watched her thank God for water.
And she meant it.
Her vision has been changed on a mission trip in Panama. Today she met a homeless woman. She's never spent much time with a homeless woman before, and for the first time in her life she realized what a blessing it is that she can have water anytime she wants. She's learning to give thanks for everything (1 Thess. 5:18) And that's something that most of us in North American don't do well.
We live in Disney World. Not literally, but figuratively. Our plasticized perfect world leaves us no room to trust, thank, lean upon, and expect God to show up. But that's all changing in the lives of several hundred teens on this year's annual Never The Same mission's event hosted by Susie Magazine and Susie Shellenberger. And that's really the main reason I believe wholeheartedly that you should one day go on a mission trip if you never have.
Last night Jenny B Jones, a Christian fiction author, spoke to the crowd of several hundred teen missionaries and she shared two reasons why we don't see God do amazing things. She told of the privilege of meeting persecuted Chinese pastor Brother Yun and asking him why we don't see the same kinds of miracles that he has in China. He said it is because we are much too dependent on our own abundant resources and that we don't expect God to do things in us and through us. I wholeheartedly agree.
Right now, as I am writing this, a few hundred teens who have been stripped of their American comfort for eight days so far are leaning into God in a way they haven't before.
Jill Etter just shared that her team of thirty teen missionaries visited an orphanage. Fifteen little girls live there. They sleep on lice-infested mattresses on ten bunk beds. And their hearts were moved. They estimated that they needed to buy twenty mattresses at about $50 each. A fund had been started.
Susie asked for two hats. Two students jumped up with hats to pass through the crowd. No big announcement. But these teens whose eyes now see real need. True want. (Who have begun to thank God for things like water.) Well, they threw their pennies, nickels, dimes and dollars into that hat.
Only God could have orchestrated it to be so perfectly accurate.
And He did.
It's not a big miracle. But a miracle none-the-less. And the miracle isn't in the precision with which those hats were filled. It's in the fact that no one in this room cares about the fact that we're running out of money and might not be able to hit up Starbucks in the airport on the way home.
We just want those little girls to sleep well.
The change in our hearts is a miracle.
FYI: The Never The Same Again mission's event began nearly twenty years ago under the ministry of Focus on the Family and continues under the ministry of Susie Magazine. The 2013 trip will be in Lima, Peru, and will be led by Susie Shellenberger. Learn more at susiemagazine.com.