KINGSTOWN, SAINT VINCENT -- "You don't go on mission trips just to see the world," said Justin Blake. "You go to serve the people."
After stepping outside of North America for the first time to go on a mission trip, the junior center for the Sabercats Men's Basketball Team changed his perspective on mission trips and on personal development. The two, as Blake learned, are closely related.
Blake joined a group of 23 people from Brookside Baptist Church (Brookfield, Wis.) on a 10-day mission trip to Kingstown, Saint Vincent, where they joined Pastor Richard Hill of Community Baptist Church to conduct a vacation bible school in the mornings and evangelistic services in the evenings. The team saw around 130 kids come to VBS each day, while 50-75 people came to the evening services.
Blake took on the role of music director, and he made an effort to help his team members wherever possible. Blake learned how a mission trip can test your perspective and teach you about yourself.
DEVELOPING YOURSELF; DEVELOPING OTHERS
"[Mission trips] give you a chance to find your true weaknesses," Blake noted. "On a mission trip you are forced into situations where either you perform, and it's not a weakness, or you fail and you discover a weakness that has been exposed."
In terms of personal weaknesses, Blake said that he was challenged by the example of some of the teens from Brookside.
"While we were waiting for a currency exchange inside of a bank, some of the teens went outside and started handing out tracts," Blake said. "I hadn't even thought of that. So these teens really challenged me in my actions.
"I was also challenged with my attitude towards the mission trip in general. I had the mentality going into the trip that I wanted to 'see the sights', so I had to learn for myself that the main goal was to serve the people."
Not only did Blake learn about himself, but he also learned about the rest of the world.
"It's an opportunity to really experience what life is like for the majority of the world," Blake said. "I would really challenge someone to go to a country that is significantly poorer than America so they can experience what the rest of the world is experiencing. It gives you a greater opportunity to discover how to love people that are completely different than you.
"It's also a chance to help the people on the team, both in their relationship with God and in their leadership abilities," Blake said. "It wasn't just a chance to serve the people of Vincent."
Blake saw a combination of third-world and first-world sections of the island, and he came to know the SVG people. Over the week-long VBS, seven children trusted Jesus Christ.
The mission trip impacts Blake's mindset coming back into the fall semester.
"I want to look for more ways to get out and share the gospel," Blake said. "And one of the ways I can do this is joining the group that goes to State Street in Madison on Friday nights. This year I want to be more committed to that. Being in a foreign country and doing street evangelism has given me more boldness to do that back in Madison.
"Another takeaway is how God has cemented my plans for the future in my own mind," Blake said. "Thie trip gave me more practical experience as I work towards being a youth pastor out of college. I also want to be more motivated to learn how to be a better preacher and an expositor of God's Word. Ron DeGarde is very good at that, so I was challenged in that area as well.
"If you go on a mission trip, yeah, you'll see some cool sights, but you have to keep in mind that you are there to serve the people of the country," Blake concluded. "And if you get that twisted in your own mind, you're going to be disappointed when you get there. But if you go with the primary goal of helping and serving people, then you'll have a great trip."