Of the million reasons why I am lucky to be married to my wife, one is that she pushed me to get involved with missions. She told me that I needed to make new friends with men in the church and that I needed more in my life than a high-pressure job.
I’d thought I was doing enough. I attended Sunday services regularly. I sat in the corner of the Sanctuary, moving through the church with solemnity and feeling like I qualified as a “good Christian.”
I could not have been more wrong.
Although I had travelled the world for business and pleasure, missions offered me a completely new purpose and a new perspective of the world. In the process, I became a small part of something much larger, and I grew closer to God.
I tried to think of one moving experience that stood out from my most recent trip, but I couldn’t narrow it down to a single memory. So many life-changing moments have run through my head every day since.
Like when I was moved to tears in a small church in Honduras. We spent the week living on a mountainside with children who play there among the dirt and trash. We worked with the kids, building a church and laying concrete for the floors of their homes. At the end of every day, every stitch of my clothing was dusty and dirty. But at church on Sunday morning, some young girls were there, dressed in beautiful, pure-white robes. They put on a dance as part of the service that was as moving as it was simple. For all of the violence and despair that was outside the walls of that church, the elegance of that simple routine was breathtaking, and I wept.
Or when I met a boy while we were building the church earlier that week. In spite of the language barrier, we spent hours talking and laughing about soccer stars from around the world. He noticed a scar on my arm from an embarrassing accident I had falling from a golf cart. He showed me his scar from being shot by a gang during an act of violence aimed at no one he had ever met. It was a humbling experience that shined a completely different light on the world that I live in — the world that we live in.
I thought of how we met an Englishman on the side of the road who was aimlessly wandering the world, running from personal and family tragedy. We worked side by side with him for days, building a friendship, loving him as a brother and inviting him into our fraternity of men living in the light of Christ. I have never known a better chance to witness to someone who was lost, and I am happy to say our new friend accepted God’s invitation. He even stayed in Honduras after we left to build churches and help in that community.
And of the time I spent with other men from our church, of how I got to know them. The quiet hours over coffee, the laughs at dinner, the time in thought and prayer were invaluable. I learned to love the other men on the trip as my brothers in Christ.
A mission trip is not about the work. It is the people you meet, the men with whom you build a bond, the experiences that humble you. I can say with all sincerity and conviction that mission experiences open your eyes to a broader world, build relationships with people you grow to admire, and bring you closer to God. It really comes down to growing into the man you want to be, and I can say that I am a better man as a result of the time I spent in Honduras. I am a more humble businessman, a more compassionate father and a more dedicated husband.
I cannot wait to go again. One day I hope to bring my two sons, to expose them to the world outside their immediate view and to give them the opportunity to see how God will use them for His glory.
This story first originally appeared in The Point, Fall 2013 edition.