27 Apr The One In Front of Me
By Konnie Drews
While my passion for people from all cultures has been a part of me since my youth, it was just a few years ago as I was asking God to show me how to be a part of building His Kingdom that my heart for missions began to be reignited. Over the years, I have had the privilege of serving on and leading several short-term mission teams. While each experience has been meaningful in its own way, it was my most recent trip to Spain and North Africa that has had the greatest impact.
Unlike a typical short-term mission trip, this was a unique opportunity to travel independently and engage in very hands-on experiences with the people already serving and those they minister to. I was excited for this new adventure, but also a little apprehensive with questions of what my role would be and doubts about my lack of training and experience in working with women involved in sex trafficking.
This is how a short-term mission trip can be transformative as the statistics and scenes from the screen become the one life that is standing right before you.
Many of us are aware that human slavery and the refugee crisis are awful circumstances experienced by millions around the world. In fact, I think we can become numb to the suffering we see on news channels because we feel hopeless to make any difference and believe that others will do something about it. This is how a short-term mission trip can be transformative as the statistics and scenes from the screen become the one life that is standing right before you. Your hands, your feet, and your words become those of Jesus Christ as you bring relief, hope, and sometimes just a hug.
Oftentimes people have a desire to share the gospel and perhaps even a willingness and calling to participate in a short-term mission trip, however it is so easy to allow our fears and insecurities to discourage us from responding in courage and obedience. Ironically, while I am fluent in Spanish, the most unexpected and powerful moments of ministry came when I was able to speak and pray with the women on the streets, mostly from Nigeria, in English! During my time in Spain I had the opportunity to speak with several women on the streets, including one particular woman, who we’ll call Gloria, who expressed to me that she was “tired and just wanted to go home to her country.” My heart broke for her, knowing that she was owned and controlled by others and, even if given the resources, did not have the freedom to leave.
I see that each girl matters and if my investment of time, love, and resources can help make a difference for one, it is worth it.
It was so hard for me to leave just a few days later. However, even as I was making my long journey home, God’s people were at work and He opened many doors that allowed not only Gloria to be rescued, but also two more girls! Praise God that these three young women, all under the age of twenty, are now in a Rescue Home and will be given the opportunity and resources to start putting their lives back together, and to hear the gospel and be loved on in the name of Jesus.
It is so easy for me to look at how big and massive the problem is: refugees, mafia, sex-trafficking, international networks, drugs, money, politics – there are so many parts that seem impossible to penetrate but because of that night, I see the one. I see that each girl matters and if my investment of time, love, and resources can help make a difference for one, it is worth it.
Certainly culture and language can present some challenges to communication, however the more I have the opportunity to truly get to know people of other cultures, the more I realize our similarities far outweigh our differences. Regardless of race, ethnicity, political boundaries, religion, geography, and customs, the human need of acceptance, justice, mercy, love, and being seen and known are indeed cultural universals. And all of us need Jesus.
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