Ever since I was 11 years old, I have spent two weeks of my summer traveling to foreign countries and sharing the love of God with the people there. Each summer has been a vastly different experience as far as group dynamics go, but one thing has always stuck with me. I’m terrible at street evangelism. Especially in a language that I don’t speak. For many years, this was a frustration for me. I felt like I wasn’t contributing to the team, and that it was absolutely pointless for me to be going on these trips.
Each year I would spend my quiet times during training praying and asking God to use me to do his will on the trip. Each year, I would be disappointed as I heard amazing testimonies from people seeing miraculous healings, salvations, and people ministered to. Each year, I would start out optimistic, and then get discouraged with the response that I received.
Finally, a couple years ago, as I was praying and asking God to amazing things for me on the mission field, He dropped a passage into my heart that has stuck with me ever since. 1 Corinthians 12:12-15 says:
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c]one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.
It honestly gets a little bit repetitive after that. Paul was trying to really make his point known to the Corinthian church. Just because we have different talents and skills, doesn’t mean we should wish to be a different part of the body.
After I read this verse, I sat there thinking for while. It had never even occurred to me that although i wasn’t the best at street evangelism, I was still an integral part of the team.
So, I started looking to see what my place in this particularly unique body was. I have always been a very practical person, and a very caring person. On past trips, I had always taken the responsibility of dealing with lunch, making sure everyone was fed and happy, and that it was done in the most efficient manner possible. I also have always been a person that many people feel led to share their problems and struggles with. I don’t really know why this is, but in the past I have often been able to be an outlet for people to come to when they are struggling with something. I’m not going to say i’m always the best at giving advice, but everyone needs a willing ear once and a while!
So, with these new strengths in mind, and focused on the new goal of supporting our team and fulfilling my role in the body, I set out for the missions field. You know what? My experience was completely different. I was doing the same things, but my heart had completely changed. I was still doing street evangelism, still pouring my heart into the people of the country we were working in, but when my team members came back with amazing testimonies of all the people they were impacting, and I had barely managed to make the person I was talking to understand me, I wasn’t upset. Instead, I rejoiced with them in the fact that another person had entered God’s kingdom, and I felt ecstatic to be part of a team doing such radical things for God.
So, in the years following, I kept that passage on my heart, and I was able to do amazing things for the kingdom while we were in the mission field. Finding my place in the body of Christ made me no longer dread missions trips, and instead i became excited at the idea that I was about to see amazing things come about. It’s truly unbelievable what a group of people can do when every part of the body is fulfilling its purpose! Lives were changed, people were healed, blessed, and set free. All because I decided to change my heart and mind and stopped wishing to be a hand, and instead gave my all at being a foot.