BY SANDRA DRAGON, GRACE ATTENDER
In the months leading up to my short-term mission trip to Ukraine, this question played like subtle theme music in the background of my mind. We’re supposed to live on “mission,” my inner dialogue would begin. Our jobs, our homes, our schools – all are our missions fields! And it was and still is true. As Ambassadors of Christ, we are forever on the mission of sharing him with our world. So why raise money? Leave children and husbands, our jobs, our homes – to go on missions? For me the answer became quite clear – after I went.
You see, I’ve heard it said that you need to walk a mile in someone’s shoes before you can really understand them. Now this saying is for the purposes of “judging” someone. But I now see you could say the same about going on missions. It’s kind-of like walking a mile, not in their shoes, but with them. Experiencing their life. Laughing with them. Crying with them. Being present with them.
From afar you may hear about their struggles, but with them you see, smell, and touch them, as well. I now see that this is the beginning of empathy. The ability to place oneself in another’s position for, the purpose of, understanding and sharing in their pain. Their fears. And eventually, learning to love them.
Before visiting the people of Ukraine, I could tell you what their cities might look or sound like. But now I can tell you what they smell like in the summer. Like the largest and most fragrant roses. And the ripest, juiciest, and sweetest peaches. And I can tell you what it feels like to meet and be embraced by the warmth of a people. A people whose strength and determination are evidenced by their hope and generosity in spite of often very difficult circumstances.
I could have given you statistics about Mission to Ukraine and the number of babies they have saved from abortion. But now I have looked into the eyes of a tiny baby, living and being loved because someone gave their mom a choice. And I could tell you the number of women they have helped to feed and clothe those babies. But there’s nothing like seeing and even hugging a young woman who now lives at peace with her “choice” to keep her baby because there is an organization that believes in her and is willing to come alongside her.
Before visiting the offices of MTU, I had heard stories of their special needs ministry and all the families they have helped. But now I can tell you what it feels like to be in a place that has become a source of life and love for these, often very, isolated families. An oasis of hope in an otherwise desert place. The energy and love at MTU is palpable.
Go on a mission’s trip, church. Just to downtown if that’s where you’re called. Don’t even leave the county – serve at our own Care Center down the street! But wherever you go, do go. Because, like me, you might be changed by walking that mile – with those people. By Feeling, smelling, tasting, and beginning to understand.
But most importantly, beginning to truly love.
“People may excite in themselves a glow of compassion, not by toasting their feet at the fire and saying: ‘Lord, teach me compassion,’ but by going and seeking an object that requires compassion.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Where Will You be Changed This Year?
Experience your own life change on one of our short-term mission trips this year. Visit the trips page to learn more.
Or, discover how you can serve locally with one of our partners or Care Center!