As we move closer to Missions Week 2015, the Love Reaches team is continuing to share the stories of others engaging in missions with their time, talent, and treasure.
“I have close friends that are missionaries that I pray for on a daily and weekly basis. Other missionaries I pray for whenever I look at maps (which is quite often). When I receive the monthly missionary email, I pray for each of them at that time as well.” ~Troy Knuppel
Troy and his wife have gone on several missions trips and treasured the prayers of others. “When we are out on a mission trip, to know that there are people that are diligently praying for you back home is encouraging, strengthening, and humbling. We had multiple times where very specific prayers were answered, even if they were not answered exactly how I thought it would happen. To be prayed over as a team and be SENT out is a remarkable experience.”
“It is a joy to give to missions. My wife and I budget a fraction of our tithe each month for support of missionaries. It is also fun to spontaneously give to someone going on a short term trip or for a special need for a particular missionary. Our giving method is usually the way that gets the money to the person as efficiently as possible. I do like to have updates and good communication from missionaries I support. I definitely like to feel like I am part of the team.” ~ Anonymous
“I started giving financially to missions in the ‘70s when I was in high school and college. Now we have most of our giving automatically withdrawn from our account. We try to make giving to missions a priority and have tried to teach that to our kids. Giving financially to missions has freed us up to know what is really important in life and what will last for eternity.” ~Anonymous
“I came on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) in 1980 and spent 17 wonderful years working with college students in the U.S. as well as in Eastern Europe. I was responsible for raising all of my financial support and thankfully I never really had any financial worries because God always took care of everything right when I needed it. When things became challenging and I knew I was in a Spiritual battle, I would remember that it was not just some organization that paid me to do a job. I knew that the support came from God and that He used people in a financial way to keep me on the field. I always felt like I was part of a team with my financial supporters.” Marianne Elsheimer
Go: Troy and Kendra Knuppel (also leading a trip this summer!)
From Troy – Kendra and I went to a Missions Celebration in 2010 and a fire in us was ignited that had been simmering for a couple of years. I believe that I always wanted to go on a mission trip. When Pastor Mark asked me if I would like to go to Haiti, I did not have any expectations of what it would be like and just wanted to enjoy the entire experience. The first time I stood in the orphanage, I was changed forever. My heart grew many times for children, especially for the suppressed and persecuted. I have gone back many times since that first trip in November 2011 and would go back in a minute.
If someone is thinking of going on a mission trip or as an Ambassador, I would say GO. When you are in a foreign land, your senses are heightened to a point that you cannot do this without divine intervention. And then you live where Paul did: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:9)
Go: Marlene Zbacnik (returning to El Salvador this summer!)
From Marlene – I came to missions in a roundabout fashion. I never thought of a pharmacist being useful for a medical team. Doctors, dentists, or nurses, yes. But me? No. It truly was a case of God equipping the called because I had no idea what we should take for medications or how to package them. We learned as we went along.
In my first two years as a volunteer, I only supported the teams going out and gathered feedback when they returned. We transitioned from using gleaned physician samples to directly ordering medications and supplies through organizations whose mission is to support medical teams like ours. One of my favorite things is seeing the teams help package the medications before the trip because it is so cool to see them start to work together and begin relationships that will be forever cemented in the shared love of God.
The youth construction side of my missions life wasn’t planned either. My daughter Mariah wanted to go to El Salvador as a sixteen-year-old. After attending the meeting with her, I offered to help chaperone if they needed parents. (I always had a secret desire to see what a construction trip was like, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine being with 20+ teenagers in a 3rd world country!) Well, my husband passed away the end of May when we were scheduled to leave in July. One of the first things Mariah asked when we were more coherent was, “Are we still going to be able to go?”
The answer was “Yes, Ted would have wanted us to go.” Working hard with the kids and studying the Bible passages from the Book of James during that trip was healing in its own way and I know it added to my recovery. That year, there were three mother-daughter teams and ENLACE wanted to film a Mother’s Day promotion for the next May. What Mariah and I said so touched the leaders that they used our testimony. Kind of amazing that brokenness ministers to others.
Go: Pastor Tim Heist (also returning to El Salvador this summer!)
From Tim – My first missions trip was actually a Christmas present that I will forever be thankful for. A church student ministry leader and mentor of mine approached my parents about the possibility of taking me and a few other students on a trip to England to partner with an organization and church for a VBS style kids camp in the heart of Eastern London. My parents, looking to create a great environment of learning about Jesus, the global church, and finding ways to challenge me, thought the trip was a great idea. That Christmas morning I opened up a present and felt confused. It was a piece of luggage, every 15-year-old’s dream. Little did I know how much that gift would change my life!
We went on the England trip in February of 2003 and when I look back on it, not only am I shocked how young I was, but I am thankful for what that trip taught me. It taught me the value of being on a team and serving. It taught me that no matter your age (young or old) you have a part in the work God is doing through his church, It taught me that Jesus changes lives. Throughout that week I was challenged by the team I was serving with to go beyond what I knew was comfortable and step out into trusting God. It’s hard to fully put into words, but it was a physical trip that showed me a need for a spiritual trust in Jesus.
If you are considering a short term trip or perhaps a longer one, I would encourage you to step through the doors God opens and go. Going takes courage, trust, and a lot of hard work as you prepare and fundraise, but trips like these have forever changed my life and could be a positive change in yours. Will it be hard? Hopefully! Looking back on this trip, and the many others I have been on since then, it is through the trials, daunting fundraising, and the situations where I didn’t know how to respond, that God makes himself known. Every summer we take students to El Salvador to partner with a church and be a catalyst for change in the community. We tell our students to never let money keep them from going. I would encourage you the same way: If God opens a door for you to serve and experience His work in the global church, Go! After all, we never truly know how life changing a small conversation can be.
For me, it was a leader’s invitation. What will be the start of something great for you?