PRAY: The Panama Papers, #1
|Some West Palm Beach team members at the Miami airport
“You must have lots of stories from your trip.”
“I can’t wait to hear your stories.”
“When are you going to tell us about your trip?”
After a summer of missions, I do have stories. Most of the Ecuador ones belong to SUSIE Magazine. God did great things in Quito, and I have a full notebook—and heart—to prove it.
My Panama trip, July 30-August 7, 2011, rose from my relationship with Dr. Walker Moore and student mission-sending organization, Awe Star Ministries. This year, they invited me to minister alongside them in the beautiful country of Panama. Since God and I often talked about my desire to serve there, I received the invitation as His answer.
“Engage the culture!” Dr. Moore emphasizes this truth in Awe Star’s missionary training. In order to prepare the way for the gospel, a missionary must get involved with the people by any means possible. As his writing partner, I knew the teaching. But I didn’t know God would provide early-morning, in-my-face instruction.
I’d left home at 3:30 am, so as soon as I landed in Miami, I headed for the restroom. My goal: to brush my hair and teeth, switch glasses to contacts, and otherwise make myself presentable before I met the team.
As soon as I entered the restroom, though, the whispers began. “Wait! She has the same shirt we do—but it’s a different color!” “I wonder where she’s going!” and finally (not whispered), “Are you on an Awe Star trip?”
So much for making myself presentable. I paused only long enough to inform my questioners that I was on an Awe Star trip—theirs, in fact. Outwardly, I smiled. Inwardly, I scolded myself. Why hadn’t I spoken first? What about “engaging the culture”? How could I do on the mission field what I wouldn’t do in the airport?
God has ways of making His point. And this time, I got it.
A few minutes later, I left the restroom prepared to engage the thirty-plus member team. When I reached the gate, I introduced myself to the adult leaders. Then I circulated among the students, asking questions here, speaking a word there. I received some stares. But I also received smiles, questions, and the beginnings of the relationships I’d asked God to build.
As I looked around the group, I recognized all the levels of excitement, anticipation, and fear I’d experienced on my first mission trip. And I realized anew that one of my constant prayers for this trip would be the one I’ve prayed for several years, “Lord, let me decrease as You increase in my life. Hide me behind Your cross so others see not Marti but You.”
The value of my outward appearance? Little. The value of Christ-in-me? Much.
We hadn’t yet left the country. But the adventure had already begun.
Have you taken a mission trip? Or helped send others on one? I’d love to hear your stories, too!