My daughter was 16 when she asked to go on a mission trip with friends from another church. I balked at the idea, but she persisted. At sixteen she was very persistent!
The trip would cost 1200 . . . money I didn’t have and the kids were going to an outpost in a country where healthcare was not immediately available. So I said no, and she persisted.
Megan was VERY good. She didn’t pressure me every day but continued to bring it up in conversation each week. Just when I thought the idea was off the table, there it appeared once again. She felt led by God to do this mission trip and she was more focused on going than I’d ever seen her before.
I told her that I hadn’t heard God tell me to send her on this trip so if she wanted to go she would have to raise the $1200 on her own. And, true to what God wants to happen in our lives, when it’s His plan, it happens.
Within several months she’d raised the money through donations from family and friends and she prepared to leave with the group in July.
When she came back she had all kinds of stories about Tarantula spiders. One morning her friend woke up with one sitting at the head of the bed! These were large, hairy and totally scary-looking spiders.
Megan showered without hot water, helped build a home, worked in a vacation Bible school camp and generally was busy all week long. But, not so busy that she didn’t meet a young man with whom she developed a wonderful relationship.
God had a plan, and his plan was perfect.
My daughter and this wonderful young man developed a relationship that blossomed over five years to a solid and God-filled marriage.
I tried to convince my daughter that if she were so interested in mission work, she should do something in the city where we lived. There were plenty of ways she could help at different ministries around the city.
But, her heart was set on traveling out of the country and without her strong belief that this was what God wanted from her, she wouldn’t have met this incredible young man. If you had lined up 1000 men for me to evaluate and choose as her husband, I couldn’t have found anyone who was as perfect for HER as he is.
Although in this instance God had other plans, it is important to also realize that you don’t have to go out of your hometown or even your own neighborhood to find a mission field that needs work.
The world is full of hurting people. You probably have first-hand knowledge because at some point we’ve all been hurting people.
One of the perfect ways you have of helping others is to use your past experiences, your past hurts and pains, to walk someone else through the same journey. And, as a single mother, you have a platform that no one else does, to walk another single mom on a journey that has pitfalls, challenges, obstacles and every other negative adjective you can think of.
If you’ve lived through it, then so is someone else. Another person is going through it right now. You might not think that you’re equipped, ready or capable to be a mentor to someone else, but you are.
You might be newly divorced, but have raised children past the age of 5. You might be newly widowed but have lived through the death of your parents. You might be a new single parent with an infant, but you’ve applied for, interviewed and gotten a job you wanted.
YOU have skills, experience and knowledge that other people want and need.
You don’t have to be the best, the greatest or know the most. But, it’s likely that you have more experience than the lady down the street – and that’s all you need – more experience than the person you’re mentoring.
Two men were backpacking in the woods and met each other. Strangers, they decided to walk together for a bit. Around a bend they spied a bear ahead of them on the path. One of the men bent down and quickly changed into running shoes. “You can’t outrun that bear!” the other man exclaimed.
“That’s ok,” said the first man. “I don’t have to be faster than the bear. I only have to be faster than you.”
You don’t have to know more than everyone, you just have to know more than the people you are mentoring.
Don’t overlook the fact that you need a mentor also. Just because you’re helping someone, doesn’t mean someone else isn’t ahead of you on this journey and can help you too!
When you find your gift, that thing you love to do for others that feeds you and energizes you instead of draining you . . . it’s a blessing.
Suddenly you can do for others while being energized by your actions, instead of being drained. Sometimes that ‘thing’ is hospitality.
You might not think that opening your home to your neighbors and friends is an act of mission work, but anything and everything you do in the name of Jesus to help others is just that – mission work.
Did you know you could have a family party, play music, enjoy great food, never mention God’s name and be doing mission work? You can serve coffee at church, greet at the door or serve food at a homeless shelter . . . you are doing mission work.
Before people listen to you about anything, they must know, like and trust you. They are the same marketing tenets you need in order to make sales. People will purchase from companies, businesses and people they know, like and trust.
Think about the people in your life who you go to for help, support and advice . . . you know, like and trust them or you wouldn’t ask. One way of developing a community of people who know, like and trust YOU is to open your home and have a party or two. Your home becomes the place where the kids hang out. Your door is open when your neighbor is hurting and needs to talk. You have a gift of hospitality.
Another way of serving in the mission field in your backyard is to serve your neighbors. Service is another way of showing love, caring and support to people who need to know that someone sees them and cares.
Is their driveway snow packed? Does their lawn need to be mowed? Could you walk the dog for your elderly neighbor when you walk your own? Can you provide a meal when someone is sick, out of the hospital, just had a baby or suffering the loss of a loved one? Can you tutor your neighbor’s son, just to help?
All of these ways are serving people. Some people have a heart for service and it energizes them to do more for others. If you aren’t one of those people then serving will drain you. This doesn’t mean you DON’T serve, it just means it’s not your primary way of participating in missional living.
You wouldn’t think that just being a positive person and having a good word for your friends, neighbors and relatives is a way of living out a mission . . . but it is.
As a single mom, you don’t have someone at home telling you how beautiful you are, what a great mom you are, what a great cook, hostess and dog trainer you are. And, the likelihood is that you suffer for that.
All of us need affirmation that we’re doing a good job and haven’t dropped the ball. But, without another adult in the home, those compliments can be far and few between. And if you need them, don’t you think your friends who are single moms need them too? And your friends who are single, married and widowed need them too!
These are just some of the ways you can live a missional life without ever leaving your home town, and sometimes even your street!
As humans we love the feeling we get from doing something nice for someone else and that’s part of sharing love with other people. Do you have other ways you can share that you’ve used to share love with your friends and neighbors? Please share them in the comment section!