The 2013 Mission Team to Moldova assisted the Church’s newly founded youth movement by participating in a hugely successful Church youth camp.
As I reflect on my second period of time spent in Moldova, I am reminded how wonderful it feels to belong. Throughout those two weeks, I was greeted with hugs and smiles from the counselors who I had previously worked with as well as many of the same campers. Their response to me was always warm and welcoming, pleasantly surprised that I had fulfilled my promise to them to return and work alongside them and to continue building a stronger youth program in Moldova. This place has become like home to me, a place where I will always be welcome and where I will always belong.
I was blessed by many encounters with the people of Moldova, and I was struck most by a comment made by a fellow counselor, Raj. He expressed how wonderful he thought it was that, as Americans, we use our money to help others instead of buying expensive things for ourselves, like cars. I remember sitting there incredulous at the words he had spoken. My first thought was to laugh and tell him how incredibly wrong he was, that we are often much more concerned with buying ourselves trendy clothes, fast cars, and the latest version of the iPhone. Instead, I thought about what a beautiful opportunity this was for us to do Christ’s work in a part of the world that was willing to listen and a reminder of what our lives are supposed to be about: living as a selfless servant prepared to go wherever led to help those in need.
In His Great Commission, Christ commanded His followers to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Over 4.8 billion people in this world still have not heard of the hope and love that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. Even among those who are already our brothers and sisters in Christ, many face extreme poverty, famine, and war. Christ does not ask us to go and serve; He commands us.
Our team was given a lot of trust and consideration from the beginning simply because we were from the United States. We always felt welcome and were often looked to as leaders. When we spoke, people listened with interest and respect. We come from a nation that has been given a favored position among many, and we should use that immense privilege and strong voice to help and serve others throughout the world.
The youth camp in which I worked this year was successful in its purpose: to bring youth from around Moldova together in order to build meaningful relationships with them and to surround them with the love and feeling of peace that comes from their faith. The day we left camp, I looked around to see many of the youth crying, tears streaming down their faces, at the thought of leaving the family they had formed in the past five days. It was both heartbreaking and satisfying to realize that these youth had formed such close bonds with each other that it had become extremely painful to be torn apart. We said our heartfelt goodbyes, and I was reminded again of what Raj had said. Our calling is to love unconditionally and to give generously. We are instructed to follow Christ with unfailing faith and to spread His steadfast love throughout the world. It is only through this sacrifice that we will find a sense of belonging and true home among those whom He calls His children.