Flourishing Faith: Mission Trip to Israel
I used to watch CPC commission people to go out on missions, and I thought they were so much more devout and Christian than me and that I would never be someone to go on a mission trip. I was actually approached by a younger couple about a trip to Congo a few years ago, but I was too intimidated to go. But that invitation planted a seed. On New Year’s Day I was praying about opening my heart and asking God to show me something new to invest in this year. I wanted to deepen my connection to the church, and I looked at the GO!Trips on my phone. The Israel and Palestine trip had a “register now” button, and I signed up! I just felt really pushed and led to apply, though it was rather impulsive.
I think this trip changed the way I view missions. I love to travel, and the trip is very travel-oriented, but you’re also helping encourage and minister to Christians in a place where it’s really hard to be a Christian. You’re restoring them and giving them encouragement, praying with them and praying over them. I probably prayed more in those two weeks—out loud, anyway—than ever in my life. But you’re also walking through the holy sites with a Palestinian Christian and there are Jews and Muslims and Christians all around you, coming to see the holiest places in the world for all three faiths.
Seeing these holy sites completely changed how I read the Bible, how I hear the Easter story. It changed the feeling I have when I take Communion, because I sat outside the tomb wall in Jerusalem and received Communion from my pastors. The trip gave me such a good, grounding perspective on where biblical events were and what it looked like—it brought the Bible to life in full color. During this series on the Beatitudes, I’ve been pulling out my phone and looking at my pictures of the Sea of Galilee. I can remember the sensory feelings of being there on that hill. The birds were singing, and the weather was a bit tumultuous, but that’s how it’s depicted in the Bible. I remember saying to my roommate, “I can see why Jesus liked it here.” For the majority of my adult years, I’ll have this gift of viewing the Bible through a new lens.
I like intergenerational worship. I like learning from kids and from older adults. That’s always one of the things I’ve loved about CPC and that was the neatest part of the trip. The intergenerational mix was so perspective-giving, from little things like not getting stressed out about work, to big things like faith or a knowledge of the Israel-Palestine conflict that goes back 30-40 years. It was so valuable to me. And now there’s a whole group of friends that I get to see on weekends after church who I wasn’t even aware of before.
When you travel with someone, you get to know them in a different way. So, the relationships I developed—especially with Pastors Jody and Rich Phenow—will, and have already, helped me grow in my faith. The care that they can provide me now that they know me, and I know them, is different than it was before. They’ve already helped me unlock opportunities to use the gifts God’s given me to serve this congregation.
There are a million reasons why someone in my life stage would say “I can’t go—I have kids or I can’t miss work or it’s expensive.” There are a lot of totally valid reasons to say no, and I said a lot of them. But I’m so glad I went. I felt like I went to a dear friend’s hometown. I got to walk the roads Jesus walked, peer over mountains He looked over, and understand better what life was like where my Savior lived. It made Him feel more real, tangible, and alive. It made Him more human—and isn’t that everything? My relationship with Jesus is deeper now. This trip will always be a marking moment for me. I hope everyone gets a chance to go!
When I was in college, I joined a sorority and was super blessed to be surrounded by friends who were really inspirational to me in their faith. I grew up going to church, but that was really when it became my choice. That’s when I started having a personal relationship with Jesus.
When I moved to New Jersey at 22, I couldn’t find a church, so I actually started a Bible study group with close girlfriends that I worked with—we were all Midwest transplants struggling to find a church. It was a really great way that God shepherded me in that period by allowing us to create our own church. We were going through the early seasons of adulthood, and learning to be self-sufficient adults, while also relying on Jesus. Those five girls will always be really special people to me—I still email with them daily—and my faith really flourished during that time.
I moved here when I was 26 to be closer to my sister’s family and I started attending CPC with them. Even when I visited before I moved, I consistently felt Jesus’ presence here. I joined about 6 months after I moved to Minnesota and have been a member for 8 years. I did a lot of inviting, so my closest friends and small group at CPC are also friends outside of church who have also made CPC their home. That’s helped me a ton in growing in my faith and having accountability in my everyday life. I’ve learned that God calls me to connect, relate, and help bring people together.
In both of my small groups, we’ve come from different denominational backgrounds. It really makes us question what we’ve been taught and discuss other perspectives. It is super faith affirming to challenge and question some of the things we’re taught. Sometimes it is a little confusing, and sometimes our dialogue is a little tension-filled, but it’s good. We’re not just blindly-following things we grew up believing. I love that our small group is so different because these conversations and perspectives enrich us all.