Written by Hope Brakenhoff. Media by Taylor Harpster.
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Have you ever considered the effect of mission work? It is not something that most people think about daily. I never truly thought about the result of mission work in other countries until I went on a mission trip. Most people do not truly understand what these trips entail and they will not truly understand until they have experienced one for themselves. That is how it was for me until I went to the Dominican Republic the summer after my freshmen year of college.
Originally, the thought of going on a mission trip only sounded like a good idea because I wanted to travel outside of the United States. I wanted to experience another country. Going there to do mission work was just the means by which I would see more of the world. I did not know that the experience I had would change my entire viewpoint and give me a heart for mission work.
As previously indicated, the summer after my freshmen year I went to the Dominican Republic with five other people. I knew all five people, and I was really close with them, so a trip out of the country with my friends sounded like the dream. I never thought about what I was going to actually be doing in that country. My group was filled with soccer players, so our initial idea was that we would use soccer as a tool to share the gospel with the kids we came into contact with. We spent ten days in Santiago, running soccer camps for young children. Every place we went, including an orphanage in Jarabacoa, we ran a soccer camp. We spent time talking with the kids and teaching them about soccer, and through our conversations, we shared about Christ. We would also share testimonies with the groups we ran camps for, either at the beginning or at the end of our time there. My sister Jen reflected on the trip saying, “I learned so much more about myself, my walk with God, and how there is so much more to life than being what the world says is successful. This trip lit a fire in my soul and just gave me a sense of confidence in my faith. I changed a lot of things in my life after this trip, and I now have a strong passion for sports ministry.”
In Matthew 28, Jesus commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” We are called to witness to others, and through this trip, I was able to learn how to do this. It wasn’t something that was always comfortable or easy, but I could see God working in every conversation I was having. Since the people in the Dominican Republic speak Spanish there was a language barrier. Thankfully God had it all worked out because we had a couple of people in our group that could speak Spanish and therefore translate. It was neat to see God break through the barrier of languages because it doesn’t matter what language we speak; God loves each and every one of us and He wants us all to know Him.
It is not easy to break through the barriers that the world puts in front of us, but we miss out when we do not overcome our fears of getting out of our comfort zone. My trip to the Dominican Republic showed me the importance of stepping out of my comfort zone to share the most important thing there is to share, and that is God’s love.