With a child’s simple and trusting faith, I asked Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. I understood that I would never be good enough, and Jesus’ death and resurrection were my only hope. I’ve walked many miles since that moment, and yet every day His grace still overwhelms me.
Only eight years old, I searched my family’s bookshelves for missionary books. Voraciously reading, sometimes even by flashlight, the true stories about men and women sharing Christ’s love ignited a deep passion inside my soul.
I imagined myself driving a car filled with Bibles through a checkpoint into a Communist country. Pictures of floating on a barge on the Yangtze River filled my thoughts. Sharing Jesus with hidden tribes in Ecuador became possible.
Every page opened my eyes to grasp the truth that a life found in Christ is meant to be poured out on others. The more He fills my heart with Himself, the greater the compulsion to share Jesus’ love and grace with everyone I can, even if this means traveling to the ends of the earth.
God had shown up in ordinary lives, but only when they were emptied of themselves. I longed to experience His fullness.
The Lord heard and answered my prayers as doors opened for me to share the hope of Christ in my school, around the neighborhood, on an Indian reservation, in a small village in Austria, standing on the street in Bucharest, Romania, in a campground in Moldova, and teaching in a long-forgotten town in Russia.
The Creator who knows each person intimately orchestrated each encounter with the story of His grace. Hurting people not trusting that a God truly exists, living without hope, were waiting for something or maybe someone. The Loving One placed within me a desire to go, and I went not knowing the final outcome, and yet trusting in Him.
I experienced God who knows where to find doors where there were only hardened walls. Pounding nails to build a church I felt the Almighty’s strength. I watched children with atheist parents accept Jesus’ gift of life. God was already there from the time He spoke the world into being. He simply wanted me to be His voice.
God wrote His own story on my husband’s life. As a young man he chose Christ, and he desired to share His love in his city and around the world. It was his passion that brought him to America where we met in small German church in Atlanta.
The Lord brought two people with hearts for giving His love to all we pass together. And we became one because His plans for us together were greater than those He had given us alone. God has given us three precious children to love and show that the greatest treasures in life are those given away, even if it we are left only with Him.
One by one our children have asked Jesus into their hearts. Their passion to know Him, read His Word, and share His love with others is humbling for their parents. They open their hearts to Him, and He pours His grace into them until it overflows onto others.
With a desire to go beyond sharing Jesus in our own city, we ventured into the great unknown of a family mission trip this summer. The kids prayed, packed, and talked with everyone they knew about the trip. As a family, we prayed God would use us, and invited others make an impact by giving school supplies for those we would meet. Obeying God is an adventure, and always takes us beyond ourselves.
Only one week in the Appalachian Mountains and our children’s lives and hearts experienced our God who is much bigger than they had ever seen. They now know that if they are willing the Powerful One will use them to accomplish amazing things.
They walked with us into a school to give boxes of supplies, and watched as the principal allowed us to pray in every classroom. Their sweet voices asked their Savior to save each boy and girl in the school. They participated in a Vacation Bible School where two children accepted Jesus’ gift. They saw hungry children, gave food and found love in their hearts. Our children grasped that everyone is the same in God’s kingdom, and those we came to serve had much to offer to us. They experienced God answer prayer in miraculous ways. Our children even saw how God could use them now.
Driving home they all shared the same big idea. “We can’t wait to go again.”
Our family mission trip was not a destination, but rather a journey. We yearn for our children to know the joy of giving away their lives rather than begging for more that this world offers. As a family we want our lives to make a difference for God’s kingdom. It’s not about going to a certain place, but really a journey of our hearts.
Today we can ask the Lord what He wants us to do. Every morning we pray in the car going to school that God would show us someone who needs Jesus’ love. We take a mission trip every day that we walk out of our house. There are hurting people who need to know there is a God of hope.
Hopefully as the weather turns warm each year we will take a family mission trip. God already knows who needs His touch, where we can be His voice. Our words can only come from what we live each day.
Today we will choose to serve the Lord. Today we will share His grace. Today we will do what God asks so we will be prepared for what He has planned for tomorrow.
Copyright © 2012 words and photographs by Jane Carole Stein