WRITE: Here I Am, Send Me? Courage in Costa Rica (Never the Same Missions, Part 1)
I don’t keep my love for missions a secret. Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of serving the Lord in six different countries (two of them twice) on mission trips. For the past five years, I’ve traveled with Never the Same Missions and first SUSIE¸ then Sisterhood Magazine as the writer for their annual missions trip.
In 1996, author and speaker Susie Shellenberger, then of Focus on the Family and Brio Magazine, first partnered with Steve Goley of Big World Ventures on an international mission trip. The goal, as Susie says, was to produce a trip that gave teens the combined experience of “missions, youth camp, and an old-fashioned revival.” Over the years, Never the Same has refined the trip, taken thousands of students and adult chaperones overseas, and seen tens of thousands come to know Christ as a result.
This past year, my husband and I served with NTS in Costa Rica, our first mission trip together. My article about the trip was scheduled as the cover story for Sisterhood’s January issue. But near the end of 2014, the publishing house that produced the magazine closed temporarily and shut down Sisterhood permanently. That’s a loss not only for me but for the thousands of teen girls who need and want a positive, Christ-centered print magazine.
Rather than waste my article, I’ve received permission to share it. You’ll find it in four parts, posted in this blog both this week and next. If you have any interest in missions, I hope you’ll read, share, and visit the links above for more information.
Here I am, Send Me? Courage in Costa Rica
by Marti Pieper
Think you’ve got excuses to avoid the mission field? Check out these beauties:
- I’m not qualified.
- I’ve got a lot going on.
- I’m needed at home.
- I’m in mourning.
- I’m unworthy.
Meet a man who could have used all these excuses and more. In fact, if we matched him up to a checklist of qualifications, our missionary candidate would score a perfect zero.
Except in one area. When God called Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, he responded not with excuses but faith-filled courage: “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8).
And so did the nearly 200 Never the Same summer missionaries to Costa Rica. When I spent two weeks with them this past July, I saw courage in action—over and over again.
Courage to Ask: Jordyn
Join me on a journey (co-sponsored by Big World Ventures and Susie Shellenberger Ministries) that began long before our training time in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. For a soccer-playing girl named Jordyn, it started last summer on the Never the Same trip to Peru. There, she noticed kids playing with worn-out, flat soccer balls. “Our school gets new balls every year,” she says. “And our old ones just sit there.”
Her need to complete a National Honor Society service project sparked an idea. She began contacting soccer teams (school and club) about donating used balls. Her five needed service hours became many, and the few balls she hoped for, an unbelievable 103.
Jordyn and her good friend Josiah brought two gigantic bags of deflated soccer balls to missions training. Instead of weighing the bags ahead of time to make sure they’d miss the penalty for overweight (more than 50 pounds) luggage, they did it at the airport. “One was 44 pounds, and the other was 49,” Jordyn reports.
The six teams who ministered throughout San Jose, Costa Rica loved giving away the round, bright-colored fruit of Jordyn’s labor. She watched one day as the surprise brought a little boy to tears. “Really?” he said. “I’m so lucky!”
Not lucky, but blessed. Not fear, but courage to ask sent Jordyn and her soccer balls to Costa Rica.
Have you served God in international missions, or would you like to? Were you a part of this trip or another Never the Same missions adventure? I’d love to receive your questions and comments below, on social media, or through the email link at the top of this page. Tom and I hope to join Never the Same in Ecuador June 29-July 12, 2015. Maybe you, like the prophet Isaiah and like Jordyn, will say, “Here am I. Send me!”