Playing UNO

Earlier this year, my daughter was introduced to the game, UNO.  She has become slightly obsessed with it ever since. There is rarely a day that goes by that she isn’t begging me or her Daddy or her oldest brother to play a game of UNO with her.  And she’s good. At five years old, she gets it. She understands the game. You don’t have to “play nice” with her. She can legitimately win.  And she loves winning.

Well, my husband and I prayed and felt that it was right for her to join me on the summer mission trip that I was leading to Romania this past summer.  She had had the opportunity to go to Guatemala the year before with our family, but this year would be a special trip for her and I to take together. Her heart is soft to the things of God. She asks a lot of questions about Jesus and frequently reminds me of people that we need to pray for. I see a desire in her heart, even at an early age, to learn more about faith and following Jesus. It wasn’t a hard “yes” to her coming with me to Europe.

With any short-term trip, there are many unknowns, especially when you are traveling to a country you have never been. Which up until last month, I had never been to Romania.  I even wrote about my weaknesses in going on this trip in my last blog post.  {You can read that here.} But with this particular trip, there were more than your typical unknowns. We didn’t necessarily have a daily schedule.  There had been ministry opportunities suggested, but nothing was set in stone.  So, this left a lot of room for the Holy Spirit to show up. Which don’t get me wrong, it’s always a great thing when the Holy Spirit shows up.  BUT when you are the leader, you kind of like to have an idea of what you’re stepping into, so you can actually help lead.  {I’m just saying.}

But in my last blog post, I was nervous to go. I was nervous to be away from my boys. I was nervous about the unknown. But God showed up. As He always does.

My time in Romania was one of the best and sweetest mission trips that I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of. Each morning, we gathered as a team to worship, to pray, to read the Word together.  And the Holy Spirit led us each day in the work He had for us.  Some of us had the opportunity to serve a Safe House for victims of Human Trafficking.  Others of us were able to go on prayer walks through strategic areas of the city.  Some of the team met for bible study with young women or baked cookies that were distributed during evening street ministry.  We were united as a team but sent out in smaller pairings to make much of Christ.

My girl and her pack of UNO cards were a huge part of ministry that week. We traveled on a trip through the Romanian countryside, where we met a young family and invited them to join us in our card game.  We talked about life and Jesus. Smiles were exchanged through broken communication and we laughed over my daughter’s relentless pursuit of winning at UNO.

She played endless games with team members as one spent time recovering from a health issue or another needed time to unwind from the day. These simple cards gave us time to bond, to talk, to meet strangers, to build relationship, to share Jesus, to draw together.  They are now worn and tethered.

UNO wasn’t the only way she was used by God that week, though. She helped to bake cookies that were handed out to prostitutes during outreach one night. She didn’t know the life or circumstances of those that enjoyed her cookies, but she was very much a part of sharing the Love and Hope of Christ that night.

We met another mother and her boy in the middle of the city center as our children ran around together.  We shared stories and prayed together as cars rushed past us on busy streets.

There are mission trips that have grand plans and itineraries, there are other trips that require less planning and preparing. Each has significance in their own way.  We are not the ones to give value or worth to the work to which we have been called. It is He who assigns that. We simply step out in obedience to what He has asked of us.

Our God is a God of relationship. He is in the business of connecting His people. He goes to great lengths to make His name known and He will stop at nothing to have the nations declare His glory. Whether we preach to hundreds or to one, there is purpose and value. For each sheep is precious to our Father.

Our time in Romania was precious. It may not appear that way to some in our reports, but each person, each conversation was destined by God Himself. There is eternal value to those we encountered and shared life with.

It doesn’t have to be big and fancy. It doesn’t require a lot of materials or a big budget. Sometimes it can be a pack of UNO cards and willing spirit that can make the biggest impact.

What do you have in your hands that can be used as a connector in sharing Christ with those around you?