The plane touched down. A trumpet sounded – Ryanair flight obvs – and I looked outside at the unfamiliar surroundings.

I’d been abroad before. Several cheap, fun in sun, holidays to Spain with Mum and Dad but this was something completely different. I was 15 years old and had just arrived in Eastern Europe for my first ever mission trip. I was with a group from church. We’d been meeting and preparing for months and finally, we’d arrived.

Our team was going to help practically with some building work and run a five-day club for children. All very exciting – we were really looking forward to it!

But if I was being honest, in my heart of hearts, I hadn’t come because of a burning passion to pick up a hammer or a paintbrush, or to reach kids with the gospel. I came because my friends were going and I didn’t want to miss out.

What I learned during my time in Eastern Europe way back in 2008 was that God can use and change anyone – even someone like me with terrible motivations.

It didn’t take long for the Lord to begin working in my life on that trip. I very quickly got to grips with what we were there to do, the Lord challenged the inner-most motivations of my heart and I marvelled at the privilege of getting to serve Him in this way.

I don’t think I could say I had taken my faith seriously before those days away in 2008. Eleven years later, I’m able to look back and pinpoint that trip as when the Lord gave me a desire to serve Him, when I discovered a heart for those who don’t know Jesus and began to recognise my role in His mission plan. 

That trip was when I began to really follow Christ.

Short-term mission is an incredible privilege: being able to bless and serve others, introducing people to the gospel, witnessing the extension of the Kingdom, seeing God at work and being transformed by His Spirit.

Whether you’re serving abroad or locally this summer, expect God to move – in the lives of those you encounter yes, but also in yourself.