By Ben Patella Two Mwandi villagers playing checkers“Will you help me lead our high school youth group on a mission trip to Zambia?” my friend and church youth pastor, Jon, asked me in November 2007. My inner voice screamed, “Oh, heck, no!” -- except the voice didn’t say heck. “Why me?” my outer voice questioned. “Because the mission wants us to build a computer lab for their school in a village called Mwandi.” Jon needed a nerd to help, but I had never been out of the country before, I had no idea how we could put together a computer lab in a third world village, and honestly, I was just plain scared to death over the risk. A couple of months ago, I invited our Forge college-aged young adults to go on a mission trip to Ethiopia this summer. In preparation, I thought back to my first trip to Africa and came up with three reasons why every believer should overcome fear to follow Jesus on an international mission trip.First of all, we should go because it’s scary. We are so accustomed to living in the relative safety and comfort of Fort Collins that being thrust into a foreign culture is an exercise in trusting Jesus more than usual. The fear causes us to look to Jesus to provide for our needs in fundraising, meeting cultures we don’t understand, and facing logistics we cannot control. Second, we should go because we get to see the Lord answer our prayers. Whether it’s sharing the gospel, playing with orphans or completing some project, we see the Lord meet needs and equip us for the task. We experience that Jesus’ command for us to go make disciples of all nations comes with a promise that he will be with us. Finally, we should go because we get to meet people who are completely foreign to us, but by faith, feel strangely close. We feel the connection of the Holy Spirit because we share the most important person – Jesus. One of my favorite days in Africa was joining a small group one Sunday afternoon. I sat in the sand with Mwandi villagers discussing God’s Word, and it felt like family.
Small group with Zambian believers under a tree in Mwandi
Our Forge students who overcome the fear of going to Ethiopia this summer will have the opportunity to experience all three mission trip blessings. We will trust Jesus with fundraising, travel, cultural differences and every moment of the trip. We will see Jesus answer our prayers and provide for our needs. Even in the very first week, we will experience the fellowship of Jesus’ Church worldwide as we enjoy the Blaze Conference for college-aged young adults in Addis Ababa. We will worship with and serve alongside our newfound Ethiopian brothers and sisters in Christ at the conference. Ethiopian young adults at the Blaze Conference 2018During the second week of our trip, we will travel with some of our Ethiopian friends from Addis Ababa to a predominantly Muslim village. In the village, we will partner with local churches to put on a kids’ Bible camp and complete some home projects for Muslim widows. In both outreach projects, we will see Jesus at work making disciples through us and the local Ethiopian church. Ethiopian villageI can’t wait to find out who Jesus calls from Faith Church to go to Ethiopia! I can’t wait to see Jesus work every moment of that trip for his good purposes! Most of all, I can’t wait for our Forge young adults to come back from Ethiopia with newfound faith and joy in the Lord, saying, “I can’t imagine what I would have missed if I had let fear prevent me from following Jesus!”
Ben has been a member at Faith for 5 years. He has been on staff for 1 year as the college ministry director after transitioning from a career in electrical engineering into full-time ministry. In his new role, Ben loves teaching the Bible, developing young leaders and discipling college-aged young adults.Ben loves spending time with his wife, Sally, and their 3 boys. He enjoys all outdoor activities including running, camping, skiing and hiking.