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Why I Turned Down a Fully Funded Mission Trip

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Growing up in the church I heard about missionaries quite often.  To my underdeveloped faith, I considered missionaries to be “Super-Christians”.  Like the Mother Teresa.  You know, they give up everything they have, the security of living in a thriving nation and opportunities for a comfortable living, and uproot themselves to an impoverished corner of the earth.

So when an opportunity arose for me to become a “Super-Christian” myself, especially one that was fully funded, why did I turn it down?

For one pretty obvious reason and one not so much.  But first there needs to be a bit of an explanation of how I got to a point where I even considered going on a trip in the first place.

I grew up as a momma’s girl.  For the first couple of years of school my Principal earned his keep.  He would have to meet my mom at the door each day and try to convince me that whatever was awaiting me in my classroom was better than sticking close to my mom’s side.  (Poor guy!)  Somehow I managed to get an education, but that daily walk down the hallway, away from my mom was not an easy journey for my young self.

So when I learned about missionaries, I couldn’t understand the concept of traveling such far distances, down much longer and more dangerous hallways, away from their mothers.

Then in high school a friend of mine who I had attended church camp with went to Russia for a mission trip in order to help rebuild an orphanage.  I remember him telling me about how at the age of sixteen he had Vodka for breakfast instead of orange juice (apparently to help ward off any illnesses that may be picked up), but he also told me of the power of the Holy Spirit he felt while attending worship there.  A Holy Spirit high that he promised was not a side effect of his morning beverage.

The idea of “Super-Christians” diminished but only just slightly.  If one of my friends could travel halfway across the globe, then maybe it wasn’t as impossible of a fete as I had originally thought.

For years I worked at the same church camp that I had attended with my friend-turned-missionary.  I had many opportunities in my time there leading Bible studies and worshiping around campfires where I gained an understanding of that Holy Spirit high.  There’s nothing quite like being in the presence of someone experiencing their “light bulb” moment.  When suddenly eyes are opened to what God’s promises mean to what was previously thought to be a lost cause and the love and grace of Jesus is welcomed in.

From those precious moments, grew a desire to serve in the capacity of a mission, one much larger than collecting bug bites and friendship bracelets around a campfire in Spencer, WV.  And most definitely one that was larger than anything that I could organize myself.  I didn’t have any idea of where I wanted to go or even what type of mission I wanted to be a part of, but the desire was definitely present.

Last year my church helped to raise over $15,000 in order for water wells to be dug in Turkana, Kenya.  One of our pastors even went to help minister to the people of these villages that would be receiving the tools for them to be provided clean water. Drinking water and the Living Water.

This year, my church was provided an opportunity to provide both kinds of water to the people of Haiti.  We would be sending a team to help deliver over 200 water filtration systems and also to work in an orphanage.

My heart leapt in my chest and after a week of deliberation, I signed up to join the team and attend the first informational meeting.  My heart did a full-out cartwheel when by brother did the same.

But as I began to pray over this mission, my heart told me “no”. Ouch!  At first it was just a small whisper, that I was certain would be squashed by the offer of a fully funded trip by one of the elders of the church.  He approached me with excitement that I would be joining him on the trip.  He knew that I was at that time in transition to a new job, so he wanted to pay for my trip in full. $1500 worth of worries, taken care of, just because I was willing to travel halfway across the globe and witness the “light bulb” moments of the people of Haiti.

The whispered no became more audible.

[Tweet “From my heart the ugly truth revealed why I shouldn’t take part in this mission trip.”]

I saw that the reason I signed up was not in order to be a part of that Holy Spirit high or even for that “light bulb” moment.  It was selfish and it was ugly.

The obvious reason to accept the “NO” that was now screaming in my ears, is because I’m a Christian blogger.  Okay, that’s not the only reason, but because of what I found my heart crying out: “Hey, wouldn’t this look so great?  If I go on a mission trip, I’m sure I’ll get more readers who will want to hear about it.  Plus it’ll provide more credibility to my words.”

There were more pleadings of “no” that beckoned me to stay put, like the fact that I have no vacation time available at my new job. I don’t do well with bug or spider bites right here where medical treatment is readily available, so how will it be where it is not?  And because my heart would break as I would stand in the doorway of the orphanage in a strange country and watch my brother begin a back-breaking trip over 5 hours away to carry hundreds of water filtration systems up a mountainside.

No, was the answer of my heart and no matter how much pleading one of my pastor’s provided in trying to get me to change my mind. And no matter how much it broke my heart to watch the face of the elder who offered to pay my way fall, “no” was still my answer.

“No” won’t be my answer forever, I promise to them.  But “no” is my answer now.  Because I cannot commit to something so life-changing if my heart isn’t ready to receive the lessons that will be learned.

Have you ever had an opportunity to go on a mission trip?  What reasons to go or stay helped you make your decision?

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  1. Wow. I’m so proud of you sticking to your gun and saying no. It’s always hard saying no especially if it’s a fully funded mission trip. I’m glad you listened to your heart and the Holy Spirit and decided this is not the right time for you. Thank you for sharing your this.

    1. My apologies in just responding. Your message was flagged as spam, so I didn’t initially see it. I appreciate your kind words and I am glad that you were encouraged by the post. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. So often we do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Staying close enough to God so we can hear His answers is so important. I know God will bless you because of your obedience — and when the “yes” comes it will impact all of us who read your words. ~Pamela

    1. Pamela, thank you for such sweet words to both my ears and my heart. It hasn’t been an easy decision, especially with friends and church leadership pushing me to go, despite the feelings I’m experiencing. I think that waiting for a YES that my whole heart cries out will be so rewarding. And I’m blessed you think that it will impact the lives here at The Imperfect Vessel as well. Many blessings to you!

  3. I had a to say “no” to a ministry opportunity last year. I had little vacation time, and we just didn’t have pace about it. When that week finally came around, it ended up that we had a death in the family, so I would have had to have cancelled anyway… and I would have lost the plane fare. So, I saw how the “no” was really God’s protection.

    So lovely to connect with you through Thriving Thursday, Bree! I love the name and theme of your blog. Blessings 🙂

    1. God sure works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He? Thank you so much for stopping by and for your sweet compliments!

  4. I love how open you are in sharing this! It is something we all need to remember, as we need the right motives. I know it couldn’t have been easy to look into someone’s eyes and say no.
    You are right, when the right trip comes along, you will be ready to go!

    1. Thanks, Sarah! You are absolutely right, it wasn’t easy to say no. “No” is not a word often uttered from my lips. But I was really encouraged by speaking to some ladies at church yesterday that felt the same way. I know there will be another opportunity and I pray that when it comes along my heart will be ready to say “YES”!

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