It’s Friday night, and a weekend of fun awaits many students. School is out (or almost out), and summer activities beckon: swimming. Fishing. Family vacations. Trips to the ice cream shop or the cool comfort of the local mall.
Yes, for some of them, the fun is mixed with work. They spend at least part of most days taking orders at a fast-food restaurant, babysitting the neighbor’s three “adorable” children or mowing lawns, often in the heat of the day.
But still other students, part of the Awe Star family, are working this weekend—for a different purpose than paying for their Starbucks or gas to fill up Dad’s pickup. They’re holding a massive garage sale. They’re cleaning out their elderly neighbor’s storage room. They’re babysitting the neighbor’s three (you guessed it) “adorable” children. All to raise money for a summer mission trip.
These teens are trading their fun for the work they will do on the mission field in a few short weeks. Soon, they’ll head out to Awe Star University, where they’ll spend hours in the sun (with mandatory sunscreen and water) learning choreography for an 18-minute dramatic presentation that tells the story of Jesus from creation through resurrection. They’ll worship, pray and study the Scriptures. They'll discuss methods for running a simple medical clinic and practice sharing their testimonies. They’ll learn some basic principles of cross-cultural work and hear from leaders whose passion for Jesus spreads like wildfire.
Early (well, not always, but often) one morning, they’ll begin the next phase of their journey by carrying a heavy backpack and other necessities through a crowded airport. Excitement will combine with nervousness to yield plenty of giggles, but the group will make sure to take time out to pray for divine encounters in the airport and on the plane. Some will have life-changing conversations right there.
What do they expect? Some have gone before, so they have an idea. Others wonder how much of what others have told them to believe. And they also have lots of questions. Will the people welcome them? Will the food make them sick? Will they adjust to a summertime family of twelve or more? And of course the all-important questions: What will the bathrooms be like?
What many of these students don’t yet realize is that by giving up their free time and “losing” much of their summer, they will gain much more. Post-mission trip reports include phrases like “best summer of my life.” “I finally know who I am in Christ.” “I got so close to my teammates.” “I fell in love with the people.” “I didn’t want the trip to end.”
This Friday night, and other nights, will you remember to pray for these emerging adults who will soon cross borders near and far to extend the gospel? Will you ask God to protect them, provide for them and meet any last-minute or long-term needs?
Perhaps you know one or more of these young missionaries. Are their trips fully funded? Could they use a boost, financial or otherwise? Could you take time to pray over them and then slip some cash into their hand or their online Awe Star account?
We invite you to be a part of, to paraphrase martyred missionary Jim Elliot, “giving what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose.” Missions is an investment of time, treasure and talent. The rewards? Priceless. The return? Eternal.