Unless Jesus Is in It

What an awesome opportunity the AFM student missions programs offer! As we have seen over one hundred student missionaries (SMs) come and go, time and time again, we have marveled at the transformation that takes place during their time of service. It is thrilling to witness what God does in each one and how He uses their initial ambition in going abroad to bless them and others.

There are many motivations to serve short-term, just as there are many different people and personalities. Some come for the desire to serve the physical needs of people less fortunate than themselves, such as treating medical conditions or helping with development projects such as water systems, grounds upkeep, trail improvements or helping to dig and install toilets. Others desire to teach those whose whole world is the village where they live. Some student missionaries wish to experience another culture, learn another language and make friends with people different than themselves. Most have a burning desire to lead people to Jesus and have a deep yearning to see the kingdom of God expanded. Others come for a sense of adventure, to experience a different country and to live through stories that can be told and retold. Whatever it is that beckons them to this experience; God has used it to bring them to a deeper understanding of Himself, drawing them into a relationship with Him that many had not previously experienced.

Each of these desires, even those that at first seem self-serving, have been used to build relationships with people, giving opportunities to live the love of Jesus, and in the process, drawing the missionary closer to Him, too. I know this is true because I have watched this phenomenon repeatedly, but more importantly, I have experienced it myself. In our effort to bring people to Jesus and help with their physical or educational needs, we continually discover our own great need for Jesus and that nothing we do can be effective unless He is in it.

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