Younger Missionary Moments

My sister and I on the team bus in Botswana, 1995

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20, NIV).

The other day, my mom made a fun discovery. She found a long letter that I had written to her from Botswana, Africa in 1995. I was nineteen years old, on a two-month missions trip with Teen Mania, accompanied by my sister. Mom took a picture of the letter and sent it to me. Reading it, I soon was lost in memories.

On that trip, I had gotten so sick that I could barely sit up. Having contracted a lung infection, I had to stay behind as my team went off for a week into the bush, including my sister. Cared for by a missionary family I had never met before, I was profoundly lonely, on the other side of the world from home. To make matters worse, for days the local hospital could not figure out what was wrong with me. As He always has, however, God brought me through it. And in the midst of it all, I experienced Him working. The following is a little snippet of the letter, describing what He was up to. This picks up where I was describing one of my trips to the hospital:

“I kept talking to the nurse after that. She told me her name, which means ‘Condolences’ or something like that in Setswana. She asked if I worked and why I was here. So I told her about Teen Mania. I asked her if she’d heard of Jesus, and she said yes. I asked her what she’d heard and then explained about the personal relationship God wanted to have with her. I asked her if she wanted to pray and accept Jesus, she asked me a few more questions, and then she said, ‘Okay, let’s pray.’ It was so neat!

“One of the things she asked me was how she should live after she gave her life to Jesus. I told her about talking with God, reading the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit, and going to church. She is going to come see me at the School tomorrow. I gave her a slip of paper with my name, and she asked me to put some Bible verses on it for her to read. She wants to see me on a regular basis before I leave. I told her I think God had me stay here this week so I could meet her.”

The letter went on the describe fascinating details like hippos along the banks of a river right next to our camp, the military tents we were staying in, the drought going on at the time, and everyday details of missionary life. However, as I read, none of them stuck out to me as much as the story about the nurse did. Surprisingly, I honestly don’t remember that experience at all, not even after reading my own description of it. As I digested it, I heard Holy Spirit speaking to my heart once again.

This is basically the essence of what He said: “This was one solitary incident in a succession of many, many others. You have been serving Me since you were small. There are so many things that you don’t even remember right now, and each one has been stored up in heaven as treasure. Rejoice in a life invested in eternal riches. Your journey has been very precious to Me!”

I could feel His delight in my joy over one soul turning to Him. I could feel His rejoicing in what beauty He brought out of the circumstance of my illness… and in my heart posture willing to see it that way with Him. How He celebrates every step of our way! If you have been pouring yourself out to Him, He wants you, too, to know how delighted He is in you. He sees every sacrifice of yours. Every one is written down in His book, and your reward is GREAT!

To tie this up, I believe that today He is inviting us to pause and meditate on how we are investing our days. Are we sowing each one as a seed, unto the Spirit? Where are we storing up our treasures?

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21, NIV).

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Have you been on a missions trip? If so, do you have any memories that stick out as formative from that experience?

20 thoughts on “Younger Missionary Moments

  1. I think it is Amazing that the HOLY SPIRIT led both of us to share a MISSION TRIP and how God led us to people for a reason. If we are willing to listen to His Calling, His Whisper, then we will be amazed at how God puts people in our path that need to hear about HIM. It also amazes me how He surprises us and blesses US as we Bless others…if we are obedient to His call to serve. Blessings my Friend. Victoria

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  2. Awww, Jenn! This is priceless because it’s you, and your heart hasn’t changed a bit. You still leave the ninety-nine for the one! It’s also priceless because God is reminding me that He sees and remembers every step of my journey. It has blessed Him when my “heart posture” has seen the difficulties as part of a bigger plan. He has delighted in me. How humbling and even hard to imagine, thinking about myself. It’s easy to imagine Him delighting in you!
    To your question—the only mission trip I’ve ever taken was to Iquitos to work with you and Arimborgo Ministries. What sticks with me today, many years later, is what I left there—a part of my heart. That sounds cliche, but it’s true. I left my friend and mentor, you. I left her precious family (even that mischievous boy!😂) I left the little girl with my same name—Lindsey— and her friends I played and sang with in Nauta. I left the Missions School in the jungle, and the amazing pastors-in-training there. I left the school children at San Marcos who were practicing their English with me and the teachers that I so admire. I left the beautiful girls who let me greet with them at church. I left Esperanza, the beautiful, colorful village on the Amazon with the sweet children who ran me from place to place teaching me Spanish by pointing to objects and wildlife. So precious! I left the women and men we laid hands on and lifted up to the Father. The boys who saw us off with drumming and thankful smiles. This is what stuck, and this is what is now a piece of me that is somewhere else. ♥️

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    1. Smiling widely reading all of this. How I enjoy your thoughtful comments, Linsdey!! Wow, you described your memories in such a precious, beautiful way. It makes me very happy that we have a piece of your heart here. It really is amazing how the Lord can unite His body across so many miles! There truly is no distance in spirit 💕🤗🌹

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  3. I was selected to go on a Mission trip to China in 1999. What happened there How His Spirit touched lives! One day as part of my whole life sharing I believe the whole of life story will be read. AMAZING HOLY GOD!

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  4. Greetings. Enjoyed your testimony. I went On a short missions trip to the jungle in Peru. One thing that impressed me about the church was that they were joyful in the Lord, even though they didn’t have much clothes. Their churches did not have any air conditioners in those hot temperatures, yet they did not lose their joy. Very impressive and made me evaluate my walk with the Lord. Would I still praise him if I did not have much clothes nor an air conditioner in my church? We got to be thankful for what we got and don’t take it for granted. God bless.
    .

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    1. How wonderful that you got to come to Peru, as this is where I live, and in the jungle, too! Did you come to Iquitos? It sounds like your trip was so wonderfully impactful, Thank You Lord for providing such amazing opportunities for us!

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  5. I was doing my quiet time this morning and talking to Dad about how I had forgotten the things which He did for me and said to me, and then I came across your post. God spoke to me through these words of yours. Great is He who is in us. May He strengthen us and renew us to do His work.

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  6. Your story highlights the work of God through His Spirit, what an encouragement! I remember one year being involved in outreach work and street preaching in Stockton On Tees in England, it was a thrilling experience as a young Christian.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this story. I have not been in a missions trip, and am not able to easily recall moments where the Holy Spirit moved through me to others, though I’m sure they are there. Awareness about these little moments has reminded of when others have shared stories such as yours with me and encouraged me to grow in my faith and honouring of the Lord. 🙏

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