Last week, I had the privilege of traveling with 18 others from my church to serve with one of the most phenomenal mission groups out there — GO Ministries. To unpack the entire experience would warrant a book, not a blog. But I wanted to pass on three take-aways:
1. Take a Trip With Your Family
Is it a challenge to pay for four people to travel internationally for a week? Yep. Does it rattle your nerves a little bit to take two kids under 10 to a developing country where a lot could go wrong? Sure. Can little kids process everything? Will they work hard? Will they have an emotional breakdown in the face of the discomfort? There’s a lot to think about, for sure.
. I wasn’t sure my wife and I would be free to serve, relegated to chasing our kids down and making sure they behaved. I wasn’t sure what to expect, honestly. My kiddos were nothing short of spectacular.
My daughter at a nutrition center with a child in The Hole.
It’s hard to raise money for, take, and process an experience like this as a family. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Our first stab at it was a rich endeavor that will mark our family history for years to come. Don’t pass that up.
My 6 year old picking up garbage in the neighborhood.
2. GO Ministries is absolutely slaying it.
Our church supports GO Ministries, partnering with a church in the DR as well as a missionary couple there. Our nonprofit partners with GO Ministries, financing a nutrition center on the island. Our family supports GO Ministries, too, sponsoring a child so he can attend school. There’s a reason they receive our enthusiastic support and ongoing endorsement — they are one of the best mission organizations I’ve seen.
Their theology is good. Their practice is good. Their structure is good. Their spirit is good. Their strategy is good. It’s all good. It’s wholistic. It’s Gospel-centered. It’s mutually transformational–benefitting the giver and the recipient. Indeed, with the partnerships they foster it’s hard to discern who’s giving and who’s getting. Really…they’re really good.
Our family with the child we support through GO’s sponsorship program and his mom.
3. Teenagers aren’t selfish.
The next generation gets a bad wrap for being self-absorbed and lazy. Usually adults say that to one another when no teenagers are around, and I’m growing more and more convinced that we do so only to talk ourselves out of feeling guilty about our own self-absorbtion and laziness.
I live in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. Katy, Texas is a great place to live. The houses are big. The schools are excellent. The attitude is pretty Texan. Everyone is pretty well-to-do. The kids we took on this trip are, too. Some people call our town’s teenagers “entitled.” They say “they have everything handed to them.” They claim they only think about their own interests. They lament how vain and selfish and ungrateful they are.
I get it. All people need to get over themselves from time to time.
Admittedly, I was nervous about taking a bunch of the upper crust to the developing world. How would they react? What if they gave us a really hard construction project? What if it was hot? What if little dirty Dominican kids jumped all over them and there was no hand sanitizer anywhere in sight?
All those things happened. And here’s what happened:
Spoiled rich kids, huh? I’ve got news for you — “kids these days” aren’t superficial. They just need to be called to something deeper. As my buddy Allen Tyger put it in a recent tweet:
“I see way more spring break work gloves and bandannas than I do bikinis and beer. If you’re looking to write off this generation, look again.”
Again, I could write a book. But I’ll leave it at those three reflections. Take your family on a trip. Check out GO Ministries (seriously…do it). And find a teenager and challenge them to live a meaningful life.
By watching them rise to the occasion, you’ll be challenged to do the same.