One of the most popular verses used to associate with missions is Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. We are told in this verse that we are to witness and bring the Kingdom of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit to whoever we are with, wherever we may be. This verse is of importance and can justify a local or foreign mission trip. However, I found that being a part of the Rock 17’s mission trip to Panama (Dec. 31st, 2012- Jan. 9th, 2013) gave me a new perspective and insight to mission trips.
A lot of times our mindset as Christians going into a mission trip is that we are going to save a country in turmoil or we are going to do some other service that will allow us to feel the reward of doing something good. However, since this mission trip was formed through a partnership between the Virginia Baptists and the Panamanian Baptist Convention, I went in with a different mindset. I thought of this opportunity as a time to come alongside Christian people in Panama to show God’s love to their community.
We worked tightly with a group of about four strong Christian leaders in Panama and we reached out to the Kuna population (indigenous traditional population that is slowly being immersed into the current Panamanian culture). Although we had never met these other leaders and they really didn’t have a lot of time to meet with us before doing God’s work in Panama, there was already a mutual understanding. We all had the same purpose of bringing God’s love, word, and compassion to this specific population.
When you go in with an open heart ready to assist God’s workers in another country, rather than with domination and a thought of being more developed as Christians, there is such an unspeakable blessing that comes from that. Leaving Panama the team felt a sense of comfort and happiness, not because we could pat ourselves on the back for doing something “good”, but because we left knowing that God has called wonderful people in Panama that are continuously doing God’s ministry within the Kuna community. Bottom line is that when we work together to do God’s work, whether locally with churches networking or in partnership with another country, it is inevitable that there will be witnessing to the unreached and wins to the Kingdom of Christ.