Written by Erika Pettigrew, LIFE Team participant
Money, school, friends, or family? Work, or vacations? Doubt, or fear? Maybe you think you can have the most impact close to home – that serving others short term hurts more than it helps. Maybe you’re scared or you don’t feel ready. You might feel like it’s not the right time. You might not want to go at all. Or maybe you want to go but don’t know where or how.
I’m going to tell you three reasons why you should consider joining a LIFE team this summer and how going on a project has changed my life.
Why you should join a LIFE team?
1. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
I don’t need to tell you that there are people around the world living in extreme poverty. Most of us are aware that hundreds of millions of people are currently suffering from abuse or lack of resources, yet we often don’t know what we can do to help. LIFE teams are a great way for you to get involved in the solution and actively work for change. I decided to participate in the India Summer Project last year because I longed to help women and children who were experiencing injustice. While I was serving at Mukti Mission, I had the opportunity to share hope with fatherless children and destitute women who had experienced terrible suffering. I am thankful that I was able to take part in making a difference, even if it was small.
Whether it’s going to Benin to work with the water wells, running summer camps and health training in Haiti, or caring for orphans and widows in India, you have an opportunity right in front of you to help others in need.
2. IT’S WORTH IT, EVEN IF IT’S SHORT
You might be wondering whether it’s worthwhile to travel across the world to do ordinary work that many other people could do.
In theory, it does sound inefficient to expend a large amount of resources to accomplish little projects. It seems as though it would be better to just send money to support the local churches that are already established in these countries. But from my personal experience, I’ve realized that local churches long for us to come and visit them.
Last year, I met an African pastor who had travelled to Canada to plead for us to go to encourage the church there. When I went to India, I could see how the local workers were so thankful that our team came. During our time at the mission, we were able to serve the workers and give them a much needed break – time when they could be refreshed and poured into so that they could keep working when we left.
Our presence and support encourages churches in a way that no amount of resources ever could. Churches are excited for you to come. In going, we also will be encouraged by learning from church’s amazing faith, which can help us to pour into our church when we return home and serve newcomers coming to Canada.
GAiN has long term projects established where they send LIFE teams, so in joining a project you can help work towards lasting change even if you can only go personally for just a season. These short-term trips can bring joy, hope and transformation in ways we can’t think or imagine.
3. YOU CAN USE YOUR SKILLS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
There is work out there that only you, with your personality, skills, passions, and experience can do. During my time in India, I was able to teach chemistry, work on a farm, and lead singing and music for a worship service. I was amazed to see how the skills I have could be used to serve others! You, too, have unique gifts and abilities that you can use to make a difference in the lives of those who need it.
I am the person I am today because of the summer projects I have participated in. In the past three years, I have helped with humanitarian projects in rural South Africa, shared God’s message of hope with those living in need in inner-city Toronto, and cared for orphans and widows in India.
My faith has grown through these projects as I have met people with profound faith and hope. I’ve tried to use the gifts God has given me to love and serve others. It is through these experiences that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and grow stronger in my faith.
My heart has been broken by the extreme poverty that I’ve seen, but I’ve also been encouraged as I’ve seen faces light up at hearing messages of hope for the first time. I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling – and so I can’t help but go. I am incredibly excited to travel to India again this summer and continue to develop the relationships I made last summer. I know great things will be done.
I’ve listed some reasons why I think everyone should participate in a GAiN LIFE team, but I understand it’s not always possible for everyone to go. Sometimes it just isn’t the right time, but that doesn’t mean you should give up completely. I wish for you to serve and care for others, wherever you are this summer, but consider joining a LIFE team (especially consider joining me in India)!