Opinion: Missions are important to the Christian faith

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Opinion: Missions are important to the Christian faith

A group of children make a suncatcher cross. The cross was meant to represent how Jesus is the light of the world. Photo credit: Cody Downey

A group of children make a suncatcher cross. The cross was meant to represent how Jesus is the light of the world. Photo credit: Cody Downey

A group of children make a suncatcher cross. The cross was meant to represent how Jesus is the light of the world. Photo credit: Cody Downey

A group of children make a suncatcher cross. The cross was meant to represent how Jesus is the light of the world. Photo credit: Cody Downey

Cody Downey

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Having grown up in the church since childhood, I knew about mission work, but I never thought I would ever actually do it. The closest I ever believed I would get to missions is putting money in the offering plate. God had other plans, of course.

During the Mardi Gras break, I went to Piedras Negras, Mexico with Loyola’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry. Baptist Collegiate Ministry, or BCM, is an organization that I am president of that was chartered at the end of last semester. For this trip, our group partnered with students from other universities like Tulane University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

In Mexico, we partnered with a local ministry called Casa Oansa. Casa Oansa’s focus of ministry is to reach the children in the neighborhood. Over the course of only four days, we saw many children and were able to teach them about God.

Some of the most amazing parts of this trip came from these children. Despite our group mostly not knowing Spanish, they were always patient with us and helped whenever we had trouble finding the words. They grew to love us in a short time. Because of them, I had no doubt about the importance of us being there. None of these children were forced to go there. They chose to come on their own. Some had parents who could care less about where they were or what they were doing. Others had legitimate reasons to not come but, instead, still came to us.

Just as amazing as the love from the children was the love of the family leading Casa Oansa. Every day, they cooked us lunch and dinner, encouraged us and showed unconditional love to us. Though we were far away from home, their love made us feel at home. This family was literally willing to die before letting anything happen to us. It honestly led many of us in the group to wonder if a group of missionaries from Mexico came to New Orleans to do work, would we be able to treat them the same way?

As much as we went to serve, we ourselves were served. Not only from this family but from each other as well. Many of us barely knew each other prior to going on this trip. Through serving with each other, we all grew closer and encouraged one another in all that we did.

This trip taught us many important things about doing mission work. First, don’t go in with preconceived notions. Many of the ideas of what the trip was going to be like were changed over the course of a couple of days. It is important to go in with an open heart and be willing to move past what we think. Second, put all of yourself into it. Nothing we did in this trip was done passively. If you don’t do everything with an active attitude, everyone will lose out on the full experience of the trip. Lastly, it is important to be fluid and not flexible. To be flexible is to do things that are within your physical reach. To be fluid, however, is to move through anything without restriction. On this trip, there were many things we didn’t know ahead of time. We didn’t know how many children would show up. We didn’t know what kinds of children we would get. Sometimes, we didn’t even know how things were going to work out. So, we had to be fluid and allow ourselves to work around our limitations.

In my opinion, going to church is an important part of being a Christian. However, this trip has shown me that it is even more important to go outside of the church to be a Christian. If you aren’t showing the love of God to others, then why even be a Christian? To have the message and not share it is worse than to not have the message at all.

Every Christian, whether they want to believe it or not, is called to mission work. Some may be called as far away as China or Afghanistan. Others may be called to places closer like Mexico or Canada or even somewhere in the United States. Regardless of where the location is, Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

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