Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1
The thing that was the weirdest for me when I started writing for editors 12 years ago was the part where you pour your heart and soul onto a page (or screen, as it were) for weeks or months, and then send it off and don’t ever really get to know who read it and how (or if) it affected them in any way. I’m not too proud to admit it – that’s one reason why I like to blog. My stat-counter gives me a little feedback, and that’s nice.
We like tangible results, don’t we? We want numbers or some other kind of evidence we can put a finger on and point to, that what we’re doing matters. Everybody likes affirmation. Everybody likes to be able to say, “and then the coolest thing happened!” It’s no different with a mission trip. I wish I could tell you what God did and is continuing to do in Uganda. I can’t. And my experiences in writing have taught me, I don’t have to know. The results are never ours determine, or even understand. They’re God’s. We’re just called to serve in love and faithfulness, and trust Him with the rest.
Here’s what I do know:
*Our Muslim driver for the week, Umar, decided to trust Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Now his name is Daniel.
*The women at the conferences were completely engaged during the teaching times. I have never felt more connected or empowered as I did while speaking to those women through a translator, and I know that is because of your prayers. They responded in spontaneous singing and, in the village, by coming forward in a show of new commitment.
*People came from great distances. There was a pastor’s conference being held at the same time as the women’s conference. The palace grounds were open for all men, women, and children of Tooro Kingdom to come and study the Scriptures and eat. Some people came across a river on boats from the D.R. of the Congo to the conferences in the village. There are 10 unengaged unreached people groups in Uganda, and lots more in neighboring countries, like Sudan, D.R. Congo, and Rwanda [http://public.imb.org/globalresearch/Pages/default.aspx]. The resulting potential effect of the pastor’s conference, especially, is immeasurable.
*The medical doctor on our team saw and treated, for free, hundreds of people.
There are some other things, too…ways that God affirms the time spent there. I have some new email and Facebook friends and they continue to encourage me even now. But the bottom line is, I don’t know what God did in the hearts and minds of all those people who attended the conferences in Uganda. I didn’t count people or have them fill out a response card. And besides that, I know that life is not a 2-day conference. Even if I did have impressive numbers to share, it wouldn’t mean much. We know just as well here in America that you can lay your burdens down at the feet of Jesus one day, and then pick them right back up the very next.
The truth is, if we only used our gifts or served God because of how people respond, or the tangible results we receive, we wouldn’t do it. Or if we did, we’d burn out after awhile. But if we understand that it’s not about us at all, then we can rest in the promise of Isaiah 55:10-11 that says, “For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.”
I think all believers should go on mission trips. They are eye-opening, life-changing experiences. But even more than that, when we use our gifts in service every day, for the glory of God in the world, and not ourselves, He uses us and blesses it in ways we could never even imagine. And when we realize those blessings, they are more amazing than is possible to adequately describe. The only thing worth boasting about is the cross of Christ. God is faithful to keep His promises, and His grace in our lives means that, somehow, some way, He uses people like us to do it. All we have to do is let Him.