There is so much to process as I integrate myself back into the American life. Looking back on my two months in Thailand, I have recognized so many things I learned about God and what He desires for His creation.
The first time I walked through the red light district and watched as young girls flirted and flaunted themselves, as white men drank, touched and chose any woman of their liking, I felt physically ill, angry, helpless and confused. At the same time, I felt completely saddened for what each person involved must be internally experiencing to be living this way. My heart broke for their inner confliction and suffering. I asked myself, “Who am I to be blessed with the gift of knowing and accepting Christ as my personal Savior and experience eternal fulfillment through a relationship with Him alone?”
After a time, I began to walk through every bar and picture God’s intended purpose for that person, clothed in His righteousness, pure and blameless in His sight, and living out their gifts for the kingdom. It can be easy to judge the actions of each person involved, especially the white American men who are married, on business and have no reason for being there. However, I am just as sinful and broken and in need of a savior as they are.
My heart breaks for the young girls being trafficked, but my heart breaks just as much for the men who give into it, the bar owners who enable it and the pimps who lie and manipulate. God provided opportunities for conversations and relationships to be built and the gospel made known. In one of the darkest places I have ever experienced, I also experienced so much hope and excitement from the conversations that took place. God is present and moving in all places and people. It was so inspiring and humbling to see God work through my team and work in the hearts of people. Coming home, I still have the incredible opportunity to share that truth with everyone I encounter.
What is our purpose on this earth? Through walking in obedience to God and loving Him, we are called to make disciples and share the gospel. We could go at any time and He could come at any time. This is not our home; therefore, we should not waste the short time we have on this earth being over-consumed with our own needs, fearing the unknown, or being distracted by the busyness of life. We are on mission at all times. I actually dislike the term “mission’s trip.” The thing that changes for so many people when they come home from any kind of long-term or short-term mission trip is their mindset. As soon as they are overseas on a mission trip, they are solely focused on “sharing the gospel and making disciples,” but as soon as they come home, the distractions of life and the comfort of the American lifestyle take over and the mindset suddenly shifts.
It is so ironic because many people come back from mission trips saying, “Yeah, it was awesome. God worked in so many ways. Despite the language barrier and the cultural differences, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with so many people and see people come to know Him.” If that is the case, you should be coming back to America even more pumped up to live out the gospel because you can relate culturally and speak the same language!!!
Some people may say, “Well, most people in America have heard about God. Therefore, they are already reached and have chosen to not walk with God.” However, that is the opposite of how we should be thinking and living. Just because people have heard the gospel don't assume they understand it. Maybe they have experienced immense suffering similar to the people in the red light district and have turned away from the truth. Guess what, people? That is why we are on this earth: to show them God’s intense love and purpose for them, and to reveal the good news to them through the way we serve and love them. People wonder why they become stagnant after a mission trip or spiritual high on a retreat; maybe because we stopped living out God’s purpose.
A huge way many people experience the love of God is through community. God designed people to be in relationship with one another. I think many people spend a lot of time seeking a “close-knit” community. However, instead of constantly looking for ways to have community, create community yourself. Dive into relationships with people, invite them into your home, take a minute to talk with someone you pass by, and have an awareness of the people you can serve through your every day life. There are so many ways to create community, but as westerners we often victimize ourselves and become depressed when we have the complete control to get up and change the situation. Therefore, I challenge you to take initiative, live out the gospel, and create community.