I remember my first mission trip to Africa a few years ago. I remember our arrival in a home in the small village where the services were held. There was a table covered with a white tablecloth in the shade of a tree and some chairs around it. Some service guests had already arrived, and they cheerfully greeted the newcomers.
We asked them if we should start the services right away but were told that we would eat first. We could visit with the adults, play with the children and enjoy a festive meal before we sat down in the shade of the tree to keep services. We, who had adopted the hectic western lifestyle, realized right away that time was different in Africa.
Because our trip took place in December, I was thinking about the events of Christmas. I had also picked some Bible texts as topics for my sermons. In the very hot weather, however, Finnish Christmas with its snow and cold weather seemed very distant, and I ended up using other texts. We know, of course, that Jesus was not born in the middle of snow and cold weather. And the message of Christmas is the same regardless of the climate. Jesus, who was God’s gift to people at the first Christmas, was the central topic of our sermons.
My purpose in blogging about these services is to start a series of blogs where the mission work done by SRK and the related humanitarian work are described openly. Many people are interested in mission trips to distant locations. When we started our humanitarian project, we discussed the possible ways to report about mission work to Finnish people. It has been heart-warming to see that many local rauhanyhdistys associations have actively included information of mission work in their events. The purpose of these blogs is to relate personal experiences and to describe the atmosphere of mission services in different localities and by different workers. Blogs are being written by speakers, translators and other volunteers as well as service guests.
What do I remember best from my mission trips? I have had a chance to see African nature, colorful birds and some rare animals. They have been unique experiences. I have been able to see things not seen by tourists – small villages and people’s homes. Days have gone by without meeting any other white person except my companion. This has made my trips very special. I have met and visited with ordinary people. I have experienced warm friendliness and hospitality in the midst of poverty and need. I have seen children’s wide-eyed amazement and joy about the visit of these strangers in their home village. God has been calling people into His kingdom, and they have been comforted by the message of the forgiveness of sins. I have experienced the bond between believers. I have been especially touched by this bond and feeling of unity during my mission trips.
Upon leaving our new friends, we have always been asked to bring greetings to Finland and to remember them in our prayers. They have also promised to remember us in their prayers. The local service guests have been grateful for the visit of speakers who preached God’s word. I want to share these greetings and good wishes with all of you who have been supporting this work.
Text: Juha Alanko
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original finnish blog post here.
Raamatun mukaan jokainen Jumalan valtakunnan jäsen on avoin lähetyskirje omassa toimintaympäristössään (2. Kor. 3:2–3). Tämä asia voi olla kipupiste uskovaiselle ihmiselle, sillä henkilökohtaisesta uskosta puhumiselle on korkea kynnys nyky-yhteiskunnassa.