Meet Me In Brazil
Next year we will take a mission trip to Brazil during TCU’s Spring Break, March 6th-14th. Find info here and apply here. The application and deposit deadline is Sunday, December 7th.
When I was in college, I was challenged and blessed to be in a ministry where missions was written into the DNA of our fellowship. Our missions motto was “every student goes, every student gives, every student prays.” It created an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation around the multiple mission trips that occurred each spring break. It took the focus off of what we lacked and put us into a “But God…” mindset. When you are around people with such infectious passion for the world, the question becomes less about “Should I go?” than “Is there any reason I need to stay?”
Those trips were influential for me. It was on a mission trip that I cemented life-long, God-centered friendships. It was a series of mission trips that shaped my interest in language and cultures that has led to my career path. And it was on a mission trip that I met the most beautiful, God-fearing woman I could ever imagine (now my wife).
I will be honest: I haven’t felt a clear “voice of God” call to the Brazil mission trip. I don’t think I’m called into vocational international missions. God has not put the desire in my heart to be a church planting pastor (either in the US or abroad). And I could give you a long list of reasons why I should NOT go on this trip:
- The trip is expensive
- The type of ministries we’ll likely participate in aren’t the ones I feel naturally “called to” or equipped for
- Our relatives are on the east coast and that week was supposed to be “family time”
- Our family is praying about a major life transition; that week would’ve been a great season to explore our options and plan for what that might look like
- Spring break was supposed to be a week of physical rest
Depending on your stage and season of life, the list can go on… I don’t speak Portuguese; my parents aren’t believers/I can’t explain this to them; I can’t/won’t leave my wife/kids/significant other for a whole week.
But then I hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and I can’t shake the feeling that this is a God-ordained opportunity to serve: the team, the Paradox church, our brothers and sisters in Christ in Rio, the people of Brazil. And, when it comes down to it, I can have 50 reasons why not to go… but I only need one reason to go: God called. It’s a matter of faithful obedience and it’s training not just for missions, but for life. I want to live a life sold out to God, his heart, and his purposes. So whether he calls me to voluntarily take on some additional responsibilities at work to help an especially difficult co-worker or walk across the cafeteria to sit with a person who looks different than me in age, race, and socio-economic class, I want to be all in.
God has been showing me that this is much bigger than whether or not I go to Brazil. It’s an exercise in faith… in a faith-charted way of life. This is just one part of it… Next it might be a call to step out in faith related to work or ministry or family. I don’t know exactly what he has in store, but I want to train my heart to focus on what God is calling myself and my family to; to drown out the noise of the “what-ifs” and “buts” of life and know that the only reason I need to follow my Father in life is that he calls. He is my good, patient, and loving Father.
How about you? I’m sure your list of reasons not to go is just as long as mine; but what is the Spirit of God telling you? Is he giving you just one reason to trust him and apply? I encourage you to spend this week of Thanksgiving praying and asking him. Instead of asking “Am I called to go?” ask him “Am I called not go to?” And some of you will be. Some of our students will be called to be home with their families, because your biggest mission field right now is not Brazil, but your parents and siblings. Some moms and dads will be called to stay because it’s their childrens spring break and their work schedule means they don’t get to spend as much time with their kids as they want. And if that’s you, I celebrate with you! Share that with your City Group. Let them know that your mission field that week is your parents or your children or a friend. I praise God that you’re listening to his call on your life, in this season.
But what about the rest of us? Maybe the peace and silence you find in your prayers is not the lack of “calling” but God clearing the way for a leap of faith.
I’m not saying God will call you to vocational ministry; but he might. I can’t guarantee you’ll meet your future spouse; but it’s possible. What I can promise is that if God calls you, there is nothing that can get in your way. And he will use you, equip you, and encourage you for His purposes, in His timing.
Will you join us?
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” – Isaiah 6:8
Chris and Claudia Johnson are Washington, DC natives who sometimes feel like they live in a foreign country in Texas. Together they lead the Ridglea Hills City Group. Claudia is going to be a missionary to family during spring break and Chris says he’ll see you in Brazil!