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( Enjoy this guest post by one of our team leaders! )

Teresa and I went on our first short term mission trip in November of 2007. We traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica. The reason I went was to go with Teresa. I was concerned about her going by herself. I had no desire or burden to go on a mission trip. I was very content serving the Lord in our home church where I serve as a deacon, lead the music, and taught Sunday school. To be successful in short term missions there has to be a burden to go. I didn’t have a burden, but my wife did. She was burdened heavily to go on a mission trip.

Dr. Jerry Spencer of JSM Ministries, who we now work with, was in our county preaching a revival in 2006. We went one night to hear him preach. He had just returned from India and shared a little bit about that trip. We spoke to him after the service and Teresa expressed her desire to go on a mission trip. I really didn’t think anything would come of it. Not long after, we got a phone call from Dr. Spencer. He told us Costa Rica was where we would go. He gave us the phone number of his youth pastor. Told us to call him. I did. When I hung up the phone I realized we were going on a mission trip!

I really had no idea what I would be doing – but Lord willing I’m going. We drove almost 4 hours to Savannah, TN, the Sunday before we left for Costa Rica on Monday. We didn’t know anyone but Dr. Spencer. The next morning we were on the road to Memphis, TN, to get on a plane. As I sat down in my seat and buckled in I prayed that God would give me something to do when I got there. You really have to be careful what you pray for. (More about that later)

We met a medical team from Jacksonville, FL, in Atlanta. After arriving at the mission house the medical team started preparing for the next day. As they assigned everyone to their job one of the doctors mentioned they needed one more person to do triage. I have been an EMT since 1976 and volunteer with our local fire department and rescue squad. Guess what. I had something to do on my first mission trip. We treated around 100 patients each day. That’s a lot of blood pressures. My ears were so soar I couldn’t touch them. This is the week that changed my life.

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Teresa and I now have a shared burden for missions.

God broke my heart for missions. Not just to go on short term missions, but to help those long term missionaries. To help meet their needs. Those who are on the front lines every day. Those who leave everything behind and go serve where God sends them.

Remember my comment, be careful what you pray for. When I prayed to God to give me something to do I had no idea how that prayer would be answered. What I didn’t know at the time was Teresa’s prayer. She prayed that God would get me on the plane and do a work in my heart. Her prayer was answered. We now serve as JSM regional directors for short term missions. We work with churches and organizations with planning and executing short term mission trips. We have the opportunity to speak in churches in our area about missions.

There must be a burden. God gave us a burden to have bibles available to give to those we share the gospel with. We have a yearly fund raiser for bibles that allows us to send bibles all over the world. Costa Rica, Honduras, Ethiopia, Philippines, and many places here in the U.S. Another burden is taking supplies to the missionaries that we work with. God has blessed us with churches and individuals that give money or buy supplies for us to take when we go. Another burden we have is to take care of the missionary’s personal needs and every now and then spoil them a little bit with a few of their wants. What I have found out is the missionary will sacrifice their needs for the benefit of the ministry.

Are you considering going? First and foremost pray that God will give you a burden to go. Find out about the mission field you are considering going to. Make sure the mission work is Christ centered. We are called to preach and teach the gospel. Along the way we help with their humanitarian needs. When the decision is made to go, find out how you can be a blessing to those who are there every day. I encourage our teams to get as much of their personal belongings on their carry-ons. This leaves more room in check bags for supplies.

Don’t get hung up on numbers. We have been on trips where 1,000’s were saved, some trips 100’s, others only a few. Numbers aren’t important. Some sew, others water, God gives the increase. Long after we are gone, those on the mission field are there establishing relationships. Following up with those we come in contact with. For those who stay behind, Dr. Spencer has a saying: Some went, some sent.

Get your church involved. First again is prayer. It is comforting to be covered in prayer by those who stay behind. Every mission work has needs. Encourage the church to collect supplies. God has given us the ability to give. We should do so ungrudgingly, Nehemiah 8:10. I always tell those who are on their first trip. You think you are going to be a blessing to the people. You will be the one that is blessed. I have to stop and count how many trips we have been on and we are still blessed more than we are a blessing. Lord willing we will start planning our next short term mission trip soon. We plan to go until God tells us to do something else.

Go ye therefore………..

  – Written by Marvin Mefford, a friend and team leader to El Ayudante

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