For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
I went into this trip eager to learn. My whole life I’ve felt a draw to international missions and I was excited to see first-hand the amazing expeditions offered through a ministry I already loved so dearly. But even more so, I wanted to know how something so large and impactful could benefit the existing work we are trying to do in Southeast Texas.
Overall, the entire process was exactly what you would expect with a Young Life trip; Logistically, it was very well put together. From fundraising and communication beforehand, our schedule the entire time, and the staff that we worked alongside, everything was very well thought out.
Speaking of staff - That was my favorite part. Getting to serve alongside the staff in the Philippines was priceless. I learned so much from all of them. Just watching how they love and care for each other was one of the best training tools I’ve been exposed to in my life. I had this internal conflict in my head before leaving for this trip, wrestling with the idea of “is this trip worth it? Are short term mission trips worth it?” I wanted to make sure I was doing something that was of value and of course, responsible.
My favorite part of Young Life is the training that we receive as staff and the hardest part of Young Life is transferring that training to those we love and lead with in our own area. Watching and learning from the staff in the Philippines was such a blessing to me and taught me how to lead and love my team here. Then as a bonus, getting to experience that with one of my guys, Brandon Smith, who is wrapping up his freshmen year at Texas A&M University, was a beautiful picture to point to as he considers how he wants to give his life away for the Kingdom.
There was a day where we all took a break from the work and snorkeled near the Olango Reef Flat. As Brandon & I sat on the gently rocking boat, surrounded by blue water and rugged landscape, it was the conversation that was the real take-away. Seeing his eyes light up when he verbally processed what this life could look like surrendered to the King was a moment I’ll never forget.
I went into this trip probably a little too aware of what the Lord would do in our hearts. I knew that what He would do in our lives would be significant, but I underestimated what it would do in the lives of our Philippino friends. As we pulled away the last day, leaving our new lifelong friends there on their own front lines, their tears of gratitude were the reminder I needed that this is bigger than all of us. That the best part of this entire Expedition experience is better understanding the puzzle that the personal God we grow to know daily is absolutely omnipresent and sovereign. My fears of short-term missions somehow being poor stewardship were shattered. There is no deliverable that we can provide on an expedition that is greater than what has already been delivered in the hearts of those already there. Seeing that first hand and trying to wrap my mind around such a big truth rocked my world. That's what I took home. That’s what I believe the local staff in the Philippines were reminded of. That's what I'm applying here and speaking about to our students. In fact, when I think about it, there was nothing short-term about this trip at all. Expeditions like this one will be a trip that we continue to expose people to as long as the Lord allows. Our God is BIG and people all over the world are having their lives changed forever.
For the longest time, I placed the idea of travel high on my list for what you might see on a postcard; that one moment where the world we experience daily is replaced with one stripped of monotony and filled with wonder. Since I’ve been back, that longing has bled into my daily life more and more. Working with the understanding of a much bigger kingdom than the one we continuously attempt to build on our own is what turns a trip up to the school into the biggest opportunity of the week. It turns the mundane into the spectacular, the routine into adventure.
Young Life Expeditions further revealed what life with Jesus looks like and how grand the privilege of a life lived for Him is. Specifically in Young Life, going where our high school friends are, seeing that as an opportunity to love like Jesus first loved us, and engaging in the things that really matter; the life of every single kid.
So what's next? That's what has become abundantly clear. A passion for discipleship, working to create more opportunities to connect students globally in an effort to give every kid a vision for Christ’s love for every kid.