I'm writing today from Guatemala. I'm with a team of Indian Rocks Christian School high school students on a mission trip designed to help a ministry here (Mission Impact) reach more people for Christ. While the idea of travel and seeing new countries and cultures may sound attractive, many of the tasks that we do are not. The purpose and design of our team is to serve. We do those things that the missionaries ask that will in turn make their job easier, lighten their load. This team personally will not see a significant number of people come to Christ while they are here, maybe no one. But they will have an impact that will continue to help after they are gone. It is an investment in the future, a kingdom investment.
Each year I am blessed to be able to lead a team and help guide them in their personal growth process. A huge side benefit that comes from serving is growth. Students are pushed out of their comfort zones. Their response goes one of two directions. They can float - stay at the surface level and not risk anything. They enjoy the people or the sights, but don't really invest themselves. The other option is to engage. It's risky. It can cause heartache when they leave. It can be hard work, but the benefits are very rewarding.
At lunch today I asked the students who are working at the Christian school, "What difference does it make that you are here." I received some very insightful responses. They understood how incredibly blessed they were to be born in the U.S. They expressed gratitude for their family and their home life. They also said that while their being doesn't immediately improve the Guatemalans' physical surrounding, it is a boost to their spiritual and mental standing. They also marveled at their contentment. They have nothing, but seem genuinely happy and are more than willing to share what they do have. One said, "I wish I didn't have to go home. I could stay here."