International missions spread Christianity, empathy and understanding of culture


People from Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church worship together while on a mission trip in Belmopan, Belize, in April 2018. Photo provided by Lexus McCormick.

Lexus McCormick

Last week was un-Belize-able

I had the opportunity to travel with Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia, as an adult leader to Belmopan, Belize. Since I had worked there as the high school intern last summer, my former boss asked me to go and serve with them. I agreed in a heartbeat. Even though my spring break had passed weeks before and I would be missing class, I knew the Lord would work it out because he wanted me in Belize. I knew that it was important that I experience life outside of the United States.

I found out that others believe that missions as a college student are important, just like I do.  I was not the only one feeling called to go abroad and serve. Missions spread the message of Christianity while prompting our hearts to change, too—giving us more empathy, and stretching us into better people.

While in Belize, we hosted an International Leadership Institute (ILI) conference called “Christian to the Core.” This program has been taken all over the world to accomplish the institute’s goal of equipping leaders and spreading Christianity. Along with our 42 American high school students, 23 Belizean students joined us to learn how to be and make disciples.

For the first day, I was heartbroken by the hurt in the country. I was mad at God because he brought us to this place to spread his joy, but then he was going to take us away by the end of the week.

But by the second day, my viewpoint completely changed.  I could see God revealing the spiritual gifts inside of the Belizean students as they interacted with our students, worshipped the Lord, and spoke in small groups.  I could see that he was bringing up a new generation of leaders through the conversations we had.

That was why our mission was important. Not only did I enjoy the mission trip and learn so much more about who the Lord is and who he created me to be, but now, there are 23 Belizean students equipped to bring more of the Lord to Belmopan. There are 23 Belizean students ready to change the world with the knowledge they have gained.

“One week abroad may transform a heart to want to spend their lives fighting for human rights, teaching English, or improving foreign policy,” said Sarah Faye Gullett, International Team Staff Member at Christian Student Fellowship (CSF).

International missions are vital to the spread of Christianity. Missions bring light to the darkness, but missions also point students in the direction in which God is calling them. By speaking with the Belizeans, I found that I had a heart for ministry. I cared a little more than I did before.

“It’s so easy to live your life never considering someone else’s reality. In fact it’s natural,” said sophomore mechanical engineering student Peter Briggs.  “International missions broaden your ability to empathize.”

After spending time in Togo, Africa, during the summer of 2016, Briggs found that his ability to relate to others had grown. Without missions, many of us walk through life never knowing how other people live.

“Taking students on missions is important because it gets them out of their comfort zone and allows them to experience the same truth they believe about God in a setting in which they aren’t familiar,” said Elley Fisk, Director of Youth at Mt. Bethel.

By going to a new place, we stretch our faith and find new ways to convey what we believe to be true to people who have never heard the gospel.  I learned how to speak with others in a culture I did not understand and that helps me to convey truth in the culture that I live in.

My life has taken new direction and found even more footing on what I hold to be true because of my visit to Belmopan, Belize.