Seated on the floor of the moving van, I winced as my friends plaited my thick curly hair into braids. Two hours out from our destination, we decided that now is the best time to radically change my hairstyle. We were on our way to our first mission trip, and I had no idea what to expect.
I had just finished my first year of high school and was still making friends at my youth group. Jeff was my youth leader, and he has a huge heart to share the gospel with everyone. He also wanted to challenge his youth group to do the same as we grew in our faith. Working with a student leader, Jeff found a domestic mission trip in Pawley Island South Carolina that also had an emphasis in developing leaders. He packed all 20+ of us youth into several large vans, and drove south.
Like an EY2S mission trip, this mission trip had a construction project at a local house and a Vacation Bible School (VBS). A natural introvert and a doer, I found that I was pushed beyond my comfort zone. I was challenged to lead a team hanging drywall. To make a long story short, it did not go well, and I had to learn from my mistakes. Jeff, as a natural extrovert and a doer, soon found himself taking over various projects he was not meant to.
For VBS, we picked up kids from the local nearby neighborhoods and brought them to the church at which we were staying. We all sat down outside in the warm sun, children and missionaries alike. Jeff had a ball he was throwing to kids, asking questions and talking about Jesus. But he wasn’t letting us the student missionaries lead.
Graciously, our trip leaders pointed this out to Jeff. He decided to stay back and work on windows, while we led the VBS the next day. I was nervous and uncertain, but I remember it went really well. Some of the older student missionaries led Bible studies, while the rest of us helped out with games and crafts. I was able to build a friendship with a sweet little girl, who ended up impacting me more than I did her.
Jeff, for his part, was working hard and in his element. But in the middle of that muggy July day, three kids came up from around the corner and said, “Mr Jeff, can you teach us the gospel?” And that is what he did. Jeff, one of the hardest workers I know, dropped his tool belt, left the windows behind and shared the gospel with those kids. He took a step away because the gospel is more important.
This idea from that first mission trip has shaped EY2S into the missions organization it is today. We are committed to bless local families with home renovation projects, but what is most important is not completing the project. What matters is the sharing of the gospel.
I think about also Drop Your Tool Belt in the context of my school. This year I have made several new friends. A lot of these friends who are not saved. I don’t think God has me at a local secular university just to get an education. He has me here for Brenda. For Madison. For Therren. Too often I am stuck in the here and now of getting my work done and getting through school. I sometimes forget that these people I see on a daily basis need to hear about the love God has for them.
Sometimes I need to drop my tool belt, and make my first priority the gospel, rather than my school work. Because my homework will pass away. But my friends will live for eternity.
How do you need to drop your tool belt?