New Life has become a regular participant in Mission to Mexico led by Hope Center. Mission to Mexico is an entry-level, intergenerational mission trip Hope Center has been taking for nearly 30 years.
Since 2012, 20 or so people associated with New Life have taken the 12-hour caravan drive to minister to a community in Ensenada. We join as many as 60 others from Hope Center and other churches, most part of the Church Without Shoes community. We joined this endeavor to give our youths in the BreakOut program the opportunity to participate in a mission as the culmination of their four years of learning about Jesus. We wanted them to see a world outside their norm and have to interact with it. We hoped they would not only see God at work but also see and allow God to work through them.
Funny thing happens on those mission trips to Mexico. Our tweens and teens aren’t the only ones having their hearts touched, their perspectives broadened, and their connection to God solidified. Every adult who goes comes back dirty, tired and possibly sick … but also glowing with the experience.
It starts before we leave home actually. The hearts and dedication of the people on our own team amaze and inspire us. The camaraderie gained in mere hours creates an atmosphere of friendship, companionship, and love that is easy to spread to strangers. These overcome the language barriers and God reaches in.
God invited Rachel Lee to see his kindness and patience, she said, as he challenged her on her purpose for being in the dirt playground of Colony 89. “I had lost my purpose, but He was kind to set my heart in the right path—to love these children as Jesus loves me, to meet them where they are with the Good News of Jesus.”
When we return, we tell stories of being touched by the people we meet who are open and happy and thriving despite what looks like abject poverty to us. In fact early on the camp leaders at Aqua Viva ask us to not have a mindset of “being here makes me feel very grateful for what I have back where I live.” Thinking that way, they said, is a somewhat insulting and not helpful in the midst of someone else’s reality. One New Lifer said, that created space to see first hand that happiness isn’t necessarily derived from our circumstance and surroundings but on friendship, good food, soccer and the love of Jesus.
The adult participants almost universally go and come back with the same feeling: They go to be chaperones, to help build houses, to teach children and to be a general blessing. But through all they experience they come back feeling they’ve learned a lot and were way more blessed than they were a blessing.
Our BreakOut classes are completed, at least for now, but we hope our youths and adults continue to take part in Mission to Mexico—and perhaps branch out to bigger missions. We want to continue to be a blessing and to be blessed.