Panama Mission Trip 2011

Why did Jonah go to Nineveh?  The obvious answer is because God had a message of repentance for the Ninevites.  If this was the only reason, it sure seems like there must have been an easier way.  There must be more expedient and reliable forms of communication than giving the message to a person who doesn’t want to go, becomes adrift at sea, is swallowed by a whale, and whines throughout the whole experience.

If you think about it, who got off easier?  The Ninevites immediately acted on a stranger’s word to repent.  Jonah’s repentance came slower and more painfully.

Did you ever consider that God also sent Jonah to Nineveh for Jonah’s sake?  Jonah put God inside a box defined by Israel’s borders because being a Jew is the only thing Jonah knew.  Jonah didn’t want to accept that God’s love is universal and works in each of us uniquely.  Maybe God knew this journey was the only way to broaden Jonah’s perspective.

This week, a group of 27 people are going to Panama.  While there, we will be teaching ESL in the schools, conducting VBS, doing minor household repairs, and teaching health education classes.  My experience is that these material blessings will be eclipsed by the blessings we will receive by going on the trip.

We’ll get to know people to whom the phrase “living by faith” isn’t an option.  We’ll see how people can be content without an iPhone or Starbucks.  Best of all, we’ll form spiritual friendships that will last a lifetime.  Through it all, we can bring back home a view of God’s kingdom that maybe is a little bit bigger than when we left.