Monday, July 27, 2015

Philadelphia - God's Timing

So all week you've read stories about the mission trip from students. Today, mine is a different point of view. Some of you have heard this story, but it bears repeating.

Too often we see God's instruction as straightforward and somehow we're missing it (god wants you to go to Africa, but you're not listening). What I've learned is sometimes God has to send you left to go right, kind of like setting up a chessboard. You have to get everything in place before you can start your moves. Like when I moved here, when I was unemployed and asking God what to do the former youth pastor was still at Fishers UMC. God sending me here would not have made sense.

On this mission trip, I thought I knew what God wanted. We were supposed to go to Atlanta. It was a plan, it made sense, it felt right. So I booked us to go to Atlanta. And everything was perfect, until January. In the beginning of the month I received a call from Youthworks (the company that plans our mission trips) saying they needed to talk to me. Because of the craziness of the holidays it took me a week to get back to them. When I finally did, the conversation was my worry; Atlanta was closed.

They couldn't get enough people to go to that site so they closed it. So now, months after most trips are completely booked, I need to find a trip half open (they max at 65-75, we take 30) on the week that we have planned. And it needed to fit my criteria of being an urban site (we try to give students a balance of serving opportunities over the 5 trips they can go on in sr, high). The list was slim, many of the sites were too far away or we had done recently.

Then he made a funny noise. "Huh...". It turns out that Philadelphia had been completely booked for our week by a single church (all 70 spots), but they had cancelled two days ago. Meaning it was wide open and we could go. Philly is one of their most popular sites. If I had tried to book at the beginning I may not have gotten it. If I had been in the office to answer the original call the other church would have still held that entire week. God worked it out for me to schedule the wrong place and be too on-the-go to answer the phone just so everything could work out.

And it did. God wanted us there not just for us but for the other churches. Neither of them had ever done a mission trip, ever. One student had been on a trip with another church, that's it. The adults had never done it before. Even the Youthworks staff, out of the 4 of them 1 had been a leader on 1 previous trip. Between the 4 adults that went from our church, we have done about 30 trips. For some reason we had all veterans on this trip. We were able to do more than just help our students, we were helping the other churches too.

God works things out, usually in ways we don't expect. I can't imagine going somewhere else after this trip and if you talk to students, neither can they. It was where God wanted us to be. So be encouraged, you may not know what God is doing simply because He's setting up the board to do something amazing. And if you want to hear more stories, make sure to be at FIRE & WATER Sunday on Aug. 16.

Thanks for your prayers and support on the trip and all times before and after.


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