“Mission trips are an invitation from God that says, Make yourself available, and watch what I can do in and with your life.”
Dwayne McRee would know. He went on a trip to West Africa and experienced it for himself.
“I saw God do some awesome things when I stepped out of my comfort zone to go,” he says. “The trip reminded me how important it is to get outside the church walls.”
The following year, Dwayne heard firsthand how much that trip mattered. “I spoke with one of the missionaries we stayed with in Africa. He told us about the impact our trip had made and how it continues to bear fruit."
And it all began with a simple choice to go.
Dwayne McRee never imagined he would go overseas. He was more content riding his Harley Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle along the Mississippi highways. "I had never been in an airport, much less on an airplane. I never had a desire to [fly] anywhere," says the 47-year old.
But that desire changed when Dwayne was chosen to be a representative on a trip to Mali with Jesus Film Project, a ministry of Cru. The leadership of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, an organization of bikers committed to telling people about Jesus, handpicked Dwayne for his dedicated service.
He applied for his passport, got all of the necessary shots and braved the 14-hour plane trip to western Africa.
Having already invested time, energy and money into the Songhai-Timbuktu translation of the JESUS film, Dwayne and 3 other members of CMA traveled halfway around the world to premiere the evangelistic movie. This new translation would benefit a people group they had never even heard of before.
During their time in Mali, a Western African country best known for the city Timbuktu, the film was shown 13 times for nearly 2,400 people in their native tongue. The availability of this tool not only empowered local churches in their continuing efforts to tell the Songhai people about Christ, but also gave these CMA members the opportunity of a lifetime.
Many rewarding experiences awaited Dwayne in Africa. The Mississippi native sampled cous cous and other Malian food, learned interesting facts about the culture, and even attempted to speak in Songhai. "They taught us how to say, 'Jesus loves you,' in Songhai," says Dwayne. "I told this little group of 5 or 6 girls."
When the girls answered back, a local missionary translated that they understood. "I've never forgotten the picture of those little girls looking up at me and grinning," says Dwayne.
Enjoying the exposure to new and different experiences did have one drawback. "Having no contact [with my wife and children] for 2 weeks almost killed me. If there was a bad part of that trip, that would have to be it," says Dwayne.
Having raised money with CMA through its annual Run for the Son event for many years, Dwayne received a fresh vision for their collective efforts. "I knew that the money we were raising in Run for the Son was making a difference, but to actually go and see and touch and feel what the money is doing," he says, "you can't put a price tag on that."
That money allowed the team to tell others about Christ more effectively. Randal Tebeau, a CMA staff member noticed the difference right away. "I didn't know French, Songhai, or the other dialect that was spoken," he says. The JESUS film broke down those communication barriers, allowing the Songhai people to hear things in their own language.
The Songhai people are not the only ones in need of hearing the gospel in their native language.
Since 1979, just over 1,089 languages of the nearly 7,000 known in the world today have a translation of the JESUS film already made. The goal is to give every person around the globe the opportunity to learn more about Jesus in their own tongue.
In a world where literacy is a luxury, the JESUS film can bring the gospel message to people of any walk of life. Like Dwayne and the other CMA members, you too can take this gift to people in need. You can also give a donation toward another translation.
For more information about Jesus Film Project, visit www.jesusfilm.org.