I'm from a really small Southern town, things generally stay the same. The day I graduated I walked through the halls with my class a final time, and I can honestly say that I knew the name of every single person as they lined the walls to wish us farewell. I'm very comfortable with the life that I live.
A couple of months ago I got a chance to be a worship leader for a girls mission camp. Now if you've ever been to Baptist Vista, you know that this is truly an adventure. Mosquitoes are the size of dogs and everything is cut into the side of a treacherous hill. While I was there, the speaker, whose name I desperately wish I could remember, talked about how the devil uses seemingly good situations to distract you from doing God's work. She used the example of someone who had everything going for them. Great friends, great family, great job, great church, great hair... the list goes on. And that person is so thankful to God for all that He has given them, and that's great! But are they keeping God's gifts a secret? And therefore depriving others of the greatness that they have?
That hit home. That was basically me in a nutshell, that woman stomped right on my toes. So, I decided that I was going to go DO something. I didn't know what or where or how, but I knew I was going to go do something for His glory. So, I called my friend Bro. Doug, a church planter in Spearfish, South Dakota. My youth group had worked with him the previous summer starting Connection Church. He didn't even hesitate, he just said: "Text me with your flight details and we'll be there to meet you." They needed help, he said, with their worship and college ministry kick-off, which is right up my alley. It was almost perfect!
So I prayed and prepared for that for about a month. I got here on Friday evening after a surprisingly smooth flight. We sat down to eat supper (apparently no one uses that term in South Dakota?) and afterwards we began discussing plans for the week ahead. Halfway through the conversation, Bro. Doug got a phone call. His good friends, Larry and Anita, had been in a motorcycle accident, and Larry had passed away. Anita was in the hospital, 18 hours away from her family, alone and grieving. Immediately Doug's family and I loaded up to go see his wife, two hours away. The only issue was that they have two elementary age children, who probably didn't need to be exposed to that tragedy on a full scale.
This really threw a kink in our plans! We didn't know how the week would pan out, just that Doug and his wife, Dana, needed to be with Anita at this time, and that their kids did not need to be a part of it. Wouldn't you say it was perfect timing that they had a nanny staying with them for a week already?
I was just amazed at how God orchestrated the timing of my trip, so that I could minister to the Hixson family, therefore enabling them to minister to the Gibson family. That's a small thing, maybe, but still. I believe that without the small things, nothing works on a big scale. Ever try to use a straightener without the on/off switch? Or drive a car without the keys? My trip was stumbled upon, but as Bro. Doug preached this morning, God doesn't believe in accidents.
Not even motorcycle "accidents."
Mr. Larry was from Alabama, and had been working with Doug and Dana in the Connection church plant. It was Sturgis week, which I learned was a world-famous motorcycle rally 15 miles out of town where literally anything is legal for seven days. Connection Church sets up a booth each year where they give away a free Harley Davidson motorcycle. To be eligible to win, all you must do is listen to a 3-minute testimony of what God has done in a volunteer's life. The gospel had been presented 6000 times that week, and 600 bikers accepted Christ as their Savior. That's what Larry and Anita had been doing all week long. As the story was told to me, when the doctors informed Anita that her husband had not made it, her immediate reaction was not shock or tears. She looked straight into the doctor's eyes and said, "To be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord." The nurses were so shocked, that they told the visitors to Anita's room. Even in his death, Larry was a witness for Christ Jesus, whom he loved so dearly. He truly left a legacy. He died doing what he loved. He died working so that others might forever live. I can honestly say that I wish so dearly that I had gotten a chance to know this man on earth. I can't wait to meet him in heaven.
So there's a little peek into what happens on mission trips. Sure, you minister to people, but most of all, you are ministered to. God speaks to your heart and reveals himself in the weirdest ways. God doesn't believe in accidents. Everything happens for a reason, and that is the greatest feeling of all.