BY RYON KAOPUIKI
I have been part of the church my entire life and have always been familiar with missionaries and mission work. I’ve continually carried an admiration for those who would answer a call to leave the comforts of home and serve in an extreme way, but my involvement ended there. Occasionally, I have supported friends on short-term mission trips, but I was content to limit my involvement to my checkbook and a belief that my personal responsibility to mission work didn’t extend beyond the bubble in which I live. After all, I don’t have any of those stereotypical mission oriented skills – I’m not medically trained, I’m more of a liability on a work site, and there are a lot more spiritually knowledgeable people God could use instead.
A little over a year ago, God used friends and people of influence to plant seeds in my life that He watered and grew into a specific calling to participate in my first Global Outreach (GO) trip. Over the year I grew to understand that the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) wasn’t intended for a select few, but a command to ALL who follow Jesus as their personal Savior and King. The call to each individual can be specific, related to time and place, but Jesus is clear in his instructions in verse 19 & 20:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
Once I accepted this truth, I began to hear more clearly the calling God had been placing in my heart: a call to serve on a trip to Ghana. This didn’t make any sense to me on the surface because everything I understood about Northview’s work in Ghana was based on outreach through medical teams. As I tried to make sense of this confusion I continued to resist Ghana and look for other options, but the more I pushed back the stronger God pursued me.
In hindsight, it was fear that kept me from responding sooner to God’s calling. I had a lot of fear and anxiety around the topic of a mission trip because I had never been on one; in fact, I had never travelled outside the country before! Eventually I surrendered to the reality I was forced to acknowledge through my actions, not simply words: my God is BIG! He can use me in any way he chooses or needs to; it was my fear of surrendering that was the limiting factor.
Eight months after the initial seeds were planted, I was 100 percent certain that God desired for me to serve on the GO trip to Ghana and I obeyed his calling by signing up for the team. God still had some work to do as there were a number of significant obstacles in my personal and professional life to overcome to allow me to actually go on the trip, but as God always is He remained faithful and provided solutions to every obstacle along the way.
As I boarded the plane at the airport with the rest of the team, I still did not know exactly what I would be doing or what specific value I would bring to the team. However, I committed to being obedient through this experience and prayed that God would give me the strength to say “Yes” to every door that was opened for me to serve. It didn’t make sense that God would send me 6000 miles from home to say “No” to opportunities He presented. If I was to experience everything He had in store for me, it was only going to come through surrendering to His will and plan. What I didn’t realize in saying that prayer – but should have – was that God would answer by giving me many opportunities to say “Yes” to situations that pulled and stretched me personally and spiritually in ways I wasn’t expecting.
I boarded the plane with anticipation of serving, serving, serving. I did a lot of that, but through all the serving I found myself receiving even more. God was blessing me because I was being obedient to His calling. He blessed me with the opportunity to serve my fellow team members, to pray over the sick and needy, to assist in serving hundreds of people through medical clinics, to play with kids hungry for any attention, and he blessed me with the experience of praying with others as they made the decision to accept and follow Jesus Christ! It was awesome! If that wasn’t enough, he also took skills and knowledge he has developed in me over my professional career and put it to use.
I was able to work with Northview’s Outreach Pastor, K Paul Maurer, and co-facilitate a Leadership Workshop for the Bible School students and pastors; met with administrators of the new College of Nursing at Manna Mission to advise on enrollment management issues; and God even used me to deliver the message during the Wednesday night church service – another first time experience in a long list from this trip.
The lasting impact from my first mission trip is still to be determined, but what is clear to me already is that God used the trip to demonstrate how great and mighty He is. Each day abroad brought a new spiritual high and another example of how much my heavenly father loves me and wants to bless me, if I will continue to be obedient. I believe whole heartedly that he returned me 6000 miles to my family and my home to continue to provide me opportunities to say ‘Yes’ to what He calls me to do and as a result continue to bless me.by Read More