Two weeks ago I left my house at 2:00 in the morning to join my Bible college classmates on a mission trip to Jamaica. We had been preparing for this trip for months, and I was looking forward to it. One of the things our group of 13 students had done in preparation was to select an overall goal for the trip. The passage from Luke chapter 4, pictured above, was our choice. We went in order to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
Because we went in the spirit and anointing of the Lord, we did those things. We went to a hospital and broke up into groups of two or three to pray for the patients, and their visitors, and the staff, and the people waiting outside. One group prayed with a man, totally blind in his left eye, who wanted his sight back. His sight was fully restored! We went to a girls’ home and spent the morning with about 55 teenage girls who had no other home. We shared God’s love with them through songs and skits and personal testimonies and one-on-on prayer and conversation. We were able to tell them that God’s love was more powerful than their situation and that he has a plan and a purpose and a design for each one of them. We gave them physical gifts – journals, bracelets, gel pens, candy; but mostly we gave them the gift of hope.
We visited a nursing home and spent time with the elderly and disabled residents. We visited schools where we preached the gospel to the poor. We prayed with the shopkeepers and the shoppers in a port where the cruise ships dock. We walked the streets of the Jamaican countryside and prayed with people on the road and in their yards and on their porches. One deaf woman had her ears opened and sang praises to the Lord! Her husband, and many others, were filled with the Holy Spirit.
We met so many people and heard so many stories. One man had a crumpled right hand and we prayed for healing, but he resisted. He told us he used to play keyboards in his church, but he left the church and began running with a bad crowd. He was attacked with a machete one day after work. He survived, but his arm and hand were disabled. This young man believed the attack was punishment from God for leaving the church, and that he would never play keyboards again. We were able to share scripture with him showing that it was the devil, not God, who was behind the attack, and that God wanted him to be healed and able to play again. We continue to pray that he has faith to receive the healing God wants to give him.
We proclaimed the year of the Lord. Everywhere we went, we told people that their sins are forgiven. Jesus paid the price for every sin for every man, woman, and child. God is not counting our sins against us… we don’t have to be “good” to earn his love. Salvation, right standing in the eyes of God, is a free gift. Jesus provided it for all of us. It cost him everything, but it costs us nothing. We just need to accept it. God does not force anyone to come to him, and he does not reject anyone who turns to him, no matter what they’ve done. Our eternal destiny is a choice each of us has to make. In Deuteronomy chapter 30, God says:
I call heaven and earth as witness this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…
On our trip, over a hundred people chose life. Hundreds of lives were touched by God, and that corner of Jamaica will never be the same. I will never be the same either. I had no choice but to rely on God every moment on that trip. I experienced his power and his love and his faithfulness like never before, not because he had changed toward me, but because I had changed toward him. I had my own healing to receive, and I received it.
On the first day of our trip one of our leaders told us, “This is your mission trip. Your mission begins when you get back home.” So true! For me, there’s no turning back. I will continue to proclaim the Lord’s favor at every opportunity from this day forward. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!