Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Short-Term Mission, Relationships and the Gospel...

Dave and Becca trying to stay warm one night in 2006

It was early in 1998, fifteen years ago this spring when I received the news.

One of the “kids” from a church that had served with Adventures in Life Ministry in Ensenada was going to come and serve with us for the summer.

Her name was Becca Freitag and she had just turned 18 years old.

Who would have known back then that this girl who had grown up in rural Burns, Oregon would one day be in charge of facilitating our short-term ministry teams in Mexico?

There are a lot of things to remember about that first year serving with Becca, but two specific events stand out in my mind.

One was when she said goodbye to her dad Gary as he was dropping her off in Ensenada.  As he was getting ready to go, he started to cry at the idea of leaving his daughter behind in a foreign country.

The love that Gary had for his little girl was so obvious that day.  For me, it is a strong reminder of the love God has for us, as his children.  It also said to me that as her leader for the summer, I not only had a responsibility to her, but to her dad to keep her safe.

While I am aware that ultimately God has all in his hands, I feel that responsibility every year as moms and dads send their kids to serve with Adventures in Life.  

The second event that stands out was the day we were served some totally yucky dehydrated fish ball soup in Guadalajara

Becca hates fish.  Always has, and always will... and this soup was pretty fishy.  But I have to give Becca her props.  She gritted her teeth and ate that soup along with the rest of us.

Did she like it? Of course not.  Did she eat it?  Of course she did.  Why? Because before Becca ever arrived in Mexico, before she ever thought about going on a short-term mission trip, the disciples ate what was put in front of them.  Just as Jesus told them to do when they were sent out.  Check it out, it’s in Luke 10.

I remember this because the fact that Becca hated fish was not important.  What was important was that she was honoring her hosts by making the decision to eat something she detested.  

What an example of a missionary heart.

That day Becca was living out a practical servanthood by not insisting on having something to eat that she might like more.  I was impressed.  It impresses me more every time I think about it because today, we really struggle to get short-term people to remember that ministry is not about them.  It’s about others and a relationship with Jesus.

While she did not always like it, Becca understood that.

That 18 year old girl continued to serve with me and Adventures in Life Ministry for the next 13 years, helping people from both countries grow in the relationships with each other, but more importantly Jesus.

Literally hundreds of people served under Becca’s direction and thousands of kids across Mexico have heard the Gospel message as a result of her longtime ministry with us.

Becca is now married and living in Hawai’i.  She is not able to participate these days as she is busy as a wife and mother.  But the impact of her ministry will always be there.  

There are still people coming to know Jesus because Becca, with her servant’s heart, came to Mexico years ago, built relationships and stayed.

That’s what effective short-term mission can do.

Bex, Dios le bendiga mucho!


Unknown said...

Great story Dave!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Becca's story, you for your investment in her life and many other interns.