Grace and Whitney recently got to do something I’ve always wanted to do – go on a mission trip. Grace, a freshman at Shawnee State University, is my niece, and Whitney is a friend from my church. They just returned from spending eight days in Belize,
They went as missionaries with GO InterNational, a religious organization that leads short-term mission trips to show and demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. This organization does this by looking at and addressing spiritual and educational needs of those who are underprivileged around the world.
Grace and Whitney had a blast while doing God’s work and helping those people who are less fortunate.
Whitney is a unique person – she is certainly special. She is 28 and has lived her entire life with a mysterious condition that was just recently diagnosed. She has “Magis” Syndrome, a rare gene mutation that only she and two other people in the world have ever been diagnosed with – so rare that she even got to take part recently in naming her own disease. It’s the only life she has known, and she is okay with it because in Latin, “Magis” means “more” or “for the greater glory of God.” How appropriate.
That fits her perfectly because everything she has done has been to bring glory to her God.
“It was a miracle I was able to make the trip,” Whitney told me. “I’m so thankful the Lord let me go. I love mission trips so much.”
The syndrome has not stopped her at all. In fact, it has opened doors for her to share God’s glory. This mission trip was her sixth, and the main focus was to take King James Version Bibles to the country. In all, Whitney and Grace took 224 KJV Bibles to people in Belize who did not have one. That, my friend, is spreading the Gospel – literally.
Another feat the duo accomplished was building pews for local churches – and they made them from scratch. They had to rout the wood and shellac it, and even weld and assemble the frames for the pews. I joked with them that it was the Belize version of an Ikea pew store.
In all, Whitney and Grace helped to make 10 pews and delivered 20 to area churches. But that’s not all. The two participated in a children’s ministry in some schools as well as a beans-and-rice ministry where they delivered food to families.
This was Grace’s first mission trip, but it probably will not be her last. She too has gone through some struggles over the past couple years. During her junior year of high school, Grace’s mother, and my sister in law, Dee Dee, passed away from ovarian cancer. Grace has always demonstrated strong faith like her mother, and this mission trip was her way of giving back and honoring God and Dee Dee. Once she arrived in Belize, she realized just how fortunate she is to live in the United States, particularly in Lucasville with her dad, also my brother.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly that they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10.
Grace learned a valuable lesson while spreading the good news of Christ to the people in Belize. Everyone will face challenges during life, but relying on God’s grace to deliver you from those challenges is the best and only way to deal with them.
And Grace has done that with a smile and a recognizable laugh.
“The people there were just so appreciative of what they had — even if it wasn’t much,” Grace said. “I know now how much that I have compared to them, and I need to be even more grateful for God’s blessings and stop complaining so much.”
Grace was also grateful for a keen eye and a good swat from a man at a church service while on the trip. She was standing in a doorway at a service when a woman grabbed her by the shoulder, which was followed by a thump on the wall. A local man had smashed a scorpion on the wall inches away from Grace.
All in all, the mission trip was a moving experience for the two ladies from Rubyville Community Church. They were part of a 14-member team whose members ranged in age from 18 to 69.
“It was a hodge-podge of people, but God put us together for a reason, and that was to help the people of Belize,” Whitney said. “We all just got along like a family on the first day.”
One unique item they brought home with them was a large sheet featuring the hand prints of children they met in Belize. This large sheet will be hung on the wall in the Children’s Church Room at Rubyville Community, Each child attending there will sign his or her name under one set of prints as a reminder to pray for that child.
Both Whitney and Grace grew spiritually on the trip as well. Whitney started praying out loud, which has always been out of her comfort zone, while Grace found humility and a new sense of thankfulness.
I’m proud of the two and a bit jealous as well. One day I would like to take a mission trip and help those less fortunate than me while spreading the Gospel at the same time. I’m not sure if I want to be exposed to scorpions, but I’ll investigate before I plan my trip.
Thanks, ladies, for inspiring me and teaching me a lesson of giving back as well.
“But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased,” Hebrews 13:16