Day 1 -- Getting a Glimpse of Things to Come

Leaving on a 2-week mission trip, the experience starts before reaching Africa

I love the mental image that comes with tribes of people who have never heard the gospel sitting around a movie screen in the middle of nowhere, hearing Jesus speak their own heart language. Photo by Katie Croft

Editor's Note: This is the first of 10 entries from writer Katie Croft. She participated in a short-term mission trip with The JESUS Film Project® to Cameroon, Africa.

Day 1

At 5 a.m., my alarm wakes me, and in my morning fog, I tie up the last few items of preparation for my trip to Cameroon, Africa.

A few years ago my younger brother had interned with The JESUS Film Project -- helping to translate the film into languages all over the world.

I love the mental image that comes with tribes of people who have never heard the gospel sitting around a movie screen in the middle of nowhere, hearing Jesus speak their own heart language.

Why I Went on This Mission Trip

My motivation for going was people, not numbers, though I have heard the incredible statistics that come along with this ministry tool. I wanted to see God at work in a different part of the world and was curious how He could use me as a tool in His hand even though I have no connections or experience in Africa.

To put it simply, I went to see a bigger picture of God.

Getting Ready in Seat 20D

On board my flight from Orlando to Philadelphia, I found my seat, 20D, next to Ron, a neatly dressed man in his late 60s. Our conversation began with typical airplane chit-chat.

I told Ron that I was headed to Cameroon, Africa, to show a film to several tribes that is based on the book of Luke in the Bible.

Although I have been a believer for many years and have been trained on how to start spiritual conversations, I do not typically seek out opportunities to do so. I don't think of myself as an evangelist but I am obedient to God's leading.

Our flight hit cruising altitude as we talked. Ron told me that he has no spiritual background, and a few life experiences have left him skeptical of religious people.

I could see honesty and disappointment in his grey eyes.

God Can Even Use Someone Like Me

I can relate to Ron's experiences. Although I am a Christian, I too have felt the wrongs done by religious people. I told him that I believe that Jesus would also be saddened because He is being misrepresented by people claiming to do His work.

An ease of friendly conversation set in as Ron continued to respectfully ask me questions about the Bible, ministry, ethics and other religions. As our flight prepared for landing in Philadelphia, Ron thanked me for answering those questions and helping him to understand the Bible more.

He proudly introduced me to his wife of 34 years, Lynn, who had been sleeping by his side for the entire flight.

Ron's Investment in My Journey

A few moments later, Ron tapped my arm and handed me a stack of Newsweek magazines from his carry-on. He told me that I would need them more than he did, and he wanted to give them to me to read for the rest of my trip.

It was a sweet gesture; I believe it was his way of investing in my journey. A few minutes later as we exited the airplane, our paths parted ways.

I was humbled by how comfortable our conversation was and how the Holy Spirit had led me to say things that seemed to connect deeply with Ron's background and understanding.

Lord, how sweet of You to give me a glimpse into what may be ahead in the coming weeks.