“A construction missions trip to Zambia? I’m going to need to pray about this!”, was my response when I first heard about the trip. But deep down, I was certain I was going to go. I’ve worked in carpentry for many years, and I’ve always wanted to visit Zambia; this was a no brainer for me! With having enough skill and having had already been on one mission trip, I filled out the form online and I knew I was fully equipped to tackle anything that it would take to get to Zambia. Although, this trip ended up being a much different experience than what I anticipated.
Throughout our training and preparation time, I found myself beginning to give into this void of sin and found nothing but my pride getting in the way of asking the Father for help in overcoming those past habits. Until this point, all I had thought about was me, me, me – and nothing about Him! I felt lost, at times I questioned why I signed up for this trip and even an occasion where I tried to withdrawal from it. However, Jesus led me through this time of questioning and because of His love for me shown through my teammates, I kept preparing and training for the trip. If it hadn’t been for His love, I would have found myself at home missing out on what would become an incredible experience! Ultimately, this adventure would become what led me back to the most important relationship I needed – my relationship with Christ!
The day to leave finally came and as I sat down to fly over the Atlantic Ocean I immediately had a sense that this trip would be the polar opposite of my previous mission trip. I knew this trip would be more difficult. I hadn’t been praying daily, I wasn’t engaging with God’s Word, and I was totally disconnected from the church and the community involved. I had been relying on myself to get through this experience, rather than letting the Father be in charge. It became clear to me that I was simply a passenger on the plane of my life, and I realized I was in way over my head. I needed to give the steering wheel back to the true pilot and let Him lead the way.
Upon landing in Zambia and meeting the staff of Poetice International, it was a clear reminder to me that it doesn’t matter where in the world you live, what your race or gender is, what language you speak, or the conditions you grew up under; God can take all kinds of different people with a common objective and create a family. That was exactly what the staff of Poetice felt like to me. God had created a family there that welcomed us into their home as if they had known us all their lives. We began our stay by singing songs of worship, several of which were outside of my realm of ‘normal’. As we attended church the next day, I witnessed people of all ages dancing and smiling, praising God for His presence in their lives. I would have thought that people shackled by poverty and unideal circumstances would have an attitude of grief or discontent about their lives, but instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see a true sense of freedom and joy filling the service we attended. Some people may think it’s their lack of judgment against each other or even their disconnect from the American standard of living that gives them so much joy. It wasn’t what they didn’t have, it was what they did. They did have a vivid, profound, loving relationship with Jesus; a relationship not clouded by social media or tainted by an envious attitude toward their peers. After being home for two weeks, I’ve finally come to the realization that was the moment God revealed to me that this trip would be about so much more than just getting construction work done.
Often we get so wrapped up in other things that we can miss what God is saying right in front of our faces. This was true for me during our trip. I’m a goal-oriented person and I find deep satisfaction in checking items off a to-do list. We were only going to be in Zambia for a week, so I really wanted to make sure I utilized my time well and got as much done as possible. That way the Poetice staff could keep moving forward with their plans and accomplish their goal of opening a coffee shop ministry. After all, that’s why I came here right? Wrong! Throughout the week I watched my team as they created impactful relationships with people of Choma and seize opportunities to work with youth. Meanwhile, I did what I do best – lose myself in my work. I mean that’s easy when that’s where I find the most comfort. Over the last few years of my life, this cycle of trading fellowship time and relationship-building for accomplishing work goals has become more and more common. By the time I realized what I was missing out on, our week was already at a close. With only a few days justify, I asked God to focus my heart on interacting with the guys that surrounded my work area. I realized I wasn’t going to get everything done that I had intended to, so it was time to ask God what He really wanted to be done. From then on I felt something I had been missing for the first few days of our trip, and months leading up to it – God’s presence.
I wouldn’t consider myself a great teacher when it comes to carpentry and when you add in language barriers and cultural differences, I felt completely out of my element. But if I’ve learned anything from being a follower of Jesus it’s that He never calls us to be in our comfort zone. In fact, the times we feel His presence, strength, and love the most are the times we’re about to step into the unknown with only Him to lean on. It was the same for David when he was about to take on Goliath. David might have been terrified because he lacked greatly in size compared to his mighty opponent. But in his heart, he knew that with God on his side, the odds were no longer in Goliath’s favor. And sure enough, God who is always faithful to his followers was faithful to David. It’s not surprising to me that when I placed all my fear, pride, and insecurities at the feet of God, he replaced it with courage, humility, and the abilities I thought I lacked. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings. they will walk and run without getting tired.” It wasn’t until I surrendered and truly trusted God that I began to fly and experience His mission for me on the trip.
Mission trips are awesome because much like how God created each of us uniquely, God creates each mission trip experience to be unique for each individual. My experience has been that He takes me at the season I’m in and continues to grow me in my relationship with Him and with others. One of the things I always look forward to when I’m traveling far from home is seeing how much bigger God is than me. Even in places where people live deeply impoverished; regardless of skin color, languages, life circumstances, God still sent His son to die for every person’s sins. Not just for Americans – for everyone. He loves us all the same and He can still deeply impact me in a different country as much as He does at home. God continues to be so good to me and I pray that I can continue to grow into the man He has made me to be.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dillon Kupski went on an immersion trip with Watermark Wesleyan Church in 2019.