"So, you're going to Jamaica on a mission trip? Sandy white beaches and crystal clear Caribbean waters in a tropical paradise ... sounds like a tough assignment! Where do I sign up?" I have heard some version of this response during the weeks and months before each of my trips to Jamaica with TEAMS for Medical Missions. And, without fail, I smile, even chuckle a bit, then try to explain what serving on a J-TEAM is actually like. On the one hand, there are the early morning devotions, long days, brief showers, little sleep, scant free time, and the continual giving of oneself until you feel you have nothing left to give. But, there are also delicious meals, stunning landscapes, sweet fellowship with team members, an acute awareness of God's grace and provision, and the satisfaction of being part of God's work on the island of Jamaica, if only for a short time. And, did I mention the Blue Mountain coffee? Awesome!
To say that my experiences with TEAMS have changed me would be an understatement. I am a different person because of short-term missions. In the Spring of 2010, I was approached by Executive Director of TEAMS, Ray Shive, to consider serving on the August 2010 J-TEAM, utilizing my nurse practitioner skills in the week-long medical clinics. I had been studying through the book of Matthew in my personal devotions and had just come to this passage in Matthew 9:35-40: "Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.'” I felt The Lord calling me to be one of His workers in Jamaica, and I haven't looked back since! I returned to Jamaica with TEAMS in February 2012 and most recently, in May 2013, and I plan to return on future trips. My experiences in Jamaica have shown me many important things. I have seen how comfortable I have been in my safe, predictable little world. I have realized my need to be bolder in sharing the gospel with those who haven't heard. And, I have seen believers who had absolutely nothing of any value in this world praise God with utter abandon and joy often absent in my own life. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus to "the least of these" knowing that it is the Great Physician who brings healing to bodies and forgiveness and salvation to lost souls (Matthew 25:34-40).
There is another J-TEAM trip to Jamaica just around the corner ... won't you consider joining me next time?