It’s true, I didn’t feel a calling to go on missions. My girlfriend, Margaret, felt called to go. She spent weeks praying on it, then on the last day of sign ups she told me, excitedly, that she had signed up and it was a big step for her. Rather than greeting her with positive enthusiasm, I was immediately anxious, “Did you not want me to go?”, I asked. Of course it was a misunderstanding, but unfortunately not the last time I put a damper on her excitement.

The second time came when we were selected for Arizona. I wondered “What could God possibly need us for in Arizona? It’s such an easy trip how could we possibly have an impact? What am I going to learn if I’m only a few hours away? Don’t I need to go to a third world country to encounter God on the mission field?”.

Very soon after signing up, as STM training began, my perspective shifted and I realized the errors in my thinking and attitude. I was so foolish to underestimate God and all that He can do, both in our hearts and for those we encounter, whether we’re on domestic or international STM. God doesn’t need us for anything, He is almighty. His plan and timing are perfect.

While in Arizona, God taught me that anyone and everyone can join Him in any of His work. You don’t need to have a background in construction or hard labor to contribute to a construction focused STM. In fact, I think having a diverse group with a wide range of strengths (none related to construction) made our team even more impactful. It’s amazing seeing how no matter what the primary objectives of the mission team are – God has a way of using each individual person’s unique strengths. These are often strengths we’re not even aware we have.

God showed me that there’s no such thing as being unqualified when it’s His work we’re joining in. We were a team of creative, marketing, healthcare, hospitality, & business professionals – Many of us accustomed to sitting at a desk, behind a computer, or at a conference room table all day. Yet, there we were serving mid-summer in the desert, raking stones from dirt, picking up trash, sanding, painting, building, singing, dancing, playing…

Last year I went on missions because I felt compelled to join my girlfriend. I hoped God would use STM to grow our relationship and show us more about ourselves while serving together. The experience wasn’t what I expected, it was so much more, so much healing that I never imagined, and that’s why I’m going again.

The more I reflect back on last year’s missions, the more I see how God really met me there. The encounter left a lasting impact on my life that I couldn’t possibly forget. Writing this post, I don’t know what words I could use to describe how great missions are or why everyone needs to go to experience it for themselves. What I can say is that after my first missions trip, my relationship with money has totally changed, my idolization of time has been transformed, I’m now engaged to the girlfriend I went with, I have new friends for life, and the list goes on. The gifts God has for us when we submit to Him and join Him in His work on the mission field are so much more fulfilling than anything we spend our time working towards while we’re comfortable at home.