This will be my seventh short-term missions trip. Plus, Diane and I spent a year in Costa Rica attending Spanish language school, and three years in Ecuador serving as missionaries with HCJB Global.
So you might think that going on another trip would be old hat, just another thing to do. Ho-hum.
Every trip is different. Every trip has its challenges. Every trip, God does something unique.
Well then, why am I going this time? Perhaps a little background is in order.
I first began to get interested in missions in 1996. Our daughter, Vicky, who was 15 years old, went on a short term trip to Haiti. When she came back, she was very excited. I became excited too, and wanted to be involved in missions somehow. But I had always thought of mission work as only being done by the ones who went, and at that time, I had no desire to go anywhere.
Then I read a book called “Serving as Senders.” That book said that for every missionary that is serving out in the field, there should be several people at home who are the “senders.”
It talked about the different types of support that missionaries need, such as moral support, logistics support, prayer support, communication support, financial support, and reentry support. All of these types of support are examples of the body of Christ in action. Diane and I agreed that we could do some of these things together.
I joined the missions committee at our church to learn more. Diane and I also began to participate in the financial support of missionaries. And even now, in 2016, we still are involved in the financial support of 5 different missionaries.
In 1997, when a missionary from SEND International came to our church, I became convinced that I should participate on the short-term team that was being put together to serve in Russia. I learned a lot on that trip, mostly about what NOT to do.
God proved Himself faithful, as He always does. I had another opportunity to go to Russia in 2000, this time as the team leader. And this time, remembering what had happened before, I tried to stay tuned in to what God was doing.
In 2003, when the opportunity for a short term trip to Ecuador was presented, Diane and I both considered it, prayed about it, and decided to go together.
We returned to Ecuador in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Every time we went to Ecuador, we entertained the notion of going “full time”, but there was always something in the way. We had kids getting married and having kids of their own, we had a new house, we had aging parents, what about the dog, what about support raising, etc, etc, etc.
Just before our short-term trip to Ecuador in February, 2006, I asked God to clearly show me if full time service was what He had for us. The first inkling of a response was when we pulled into Shell on the bus. I remember feeling, “I’m home.”
Through a process of prayer, counsel and experience, we could see that God had been preparing us for this. We applied, were accepted, raised support, and left for language school in April, 2008. One year later, we arrived in Ecuador to serve in a mission hospital in the town of Shell.
By summer of 2011, it was becoming more and more clear that this service was to be a season in our lives, and that season would soon come to a close. We returned to Maine in May, 2012.
So, back to the question, why am I going on this trip?
We haven’t been attending FBC Westbrook all that long – just a little over a year. During that time, we have gotten to know some wonderful people. And some of them are going on this trip. My first thought was that perhaps I could be of service to some of the folks who had never been on a short-term missions trip before.
But I also realize that, as I said before, each trip is different. I want to try to be available and flexible to see, hear and do whatever God has for me in this trip. I want to “look for God” in all the things that go on.
I am looking forward to visiting another country in Latin America, practicing my Spanish and having new opportunities to love God and love others
By Steve Wilson