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The Call to Authentically Love and Follow Jesus

To pursue the call of missions from God comes with various instructions and goals. For those who are followers of Christ the act of missions should come from a place of humility rather than just an opportunity to check off a box of engaging in a good deed to benefit others.

Patrick Griffey holds hands with native children in Haiti, engaging himself in the mission field, leading with an open heart as God has called him to do. Parts of the image have been blurred intentionally.      Photo courtesy of Patrick Griffey

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As I stepped off the bus onto the dirty street in front of our mission compound in Jamaica, I looked around and saw several houses that were no bigger than my dorm room. 

I walked toward the compound and was greeted by a familiar face. I had been to Jamaica on a mission trip once before and was beyond excited to see Clifton again. 

Our mission team begins construction of a house in the Bahamas.  Photo by Patrick Griffey

My family has been involved in missions here for years, and Clifton has been one of our favorite connections there. 

Every time we go there is no doubt in our minds that Clifton will be there and serve with us. 

“Respect mon,” he said, as we greeted each other. He gave me a fist bump and a huge smile. Little did I know the impact that he would have on me. 

Our mission team, sent by First Baptist Church Clinton, focused on engaging the community in Falmouth, Jamaica, with Jesus and the hope that he brings.

Without wasting any time, from the moment I reached Jamaica, my mission team and I began to dive in and help the area in any way we possibly could.

We went through a busy week of work projects, hanging out with some of the locals and leading worship, but where God really started tugging on my heart is when an experience with Clifton opened my eyes. 

Clifton took me and a couple guys up onto the mountain to help fix up his house. 

We walked up to a small shack with a tin roof and rotten wood for the walls. To put things to scale, we replaced most of the exterior walls on his house with just a few sheets of plywood. 

I was blown away by how small his house was, and as we conversed with him, he explained some things to us. 

Every day he rides his bike down the mountain to work all day in the town doing random jobs, and then he takes that money and sends the majority of it to his wife and daughter.

While I came in with the mindset that I had such a servant’s heart, this moment flipped my view of missions completely. I am not the hero here, I am not the one who comes in and saves everybody.

Our mission team takes measurements to begin working on interior framing of a house in the Bahamas.  Photo by Patrick Griffey

I may have opportunities and resources they don’t have, but I am in need of Jesus just as much as any of them, if not more so. 

After I flew home from this trip, my experience with Clifton never left my mind. 

Not too long after, I was given the opportunity to join a mission team to Haiti. How could I refuse this after how much I had experienced during my time in Jamaica.

When I landed in Haiti, I knew this trip was going to take my perspective on missions to a whole new level. 

I saw a level of poverty that I had never seen before in my life. 

We helped run a kids camp at Camp Mahanaim in Les Cayes, Haiti, the majority of the time, but when we had free time we would hang out with kids from the village or deliver food. 

One morning, we grabbed bags and bags of rice and beans, and hiked out to a village about a mile down the coast. 

As we approached the village, we were greeted by a group of young kids, with torn clothes if they had any clothes on at all.

 They were beyond excited to see us, latching onto our hands while one of them said something to our translator. 

 The translator turned to us and explained they were so overjoyed to see us because they hadn’t had anyone bring food for a week. 

 Something in me changed that day as we walked through the village. 

 I saw people who were not too different from me or you. People with hopes, fears, dreams and insecurities. 

 It broke my heart to see how little they had, but it was encouraging to see how much hope they had despite their situations. 

 These are people I want to do life with. 

I want to experience the hope they have no matter what their circumstances are.

Upon returning from Haiti, I was suddenly so uninterested in the American dream. 

I could finish my degree here and get a nice job, start a family, and live pretty comfortably, but this is not what a successful life is truly about, not for me anyway.

At the end of the day, there is little satisfaction to be found in living for yourself when Jesus has designed us to worship Him and love others. 

Our mission team takes shelter from one of the many sudden storms in the Bahamas.  Photo by Patrick Griffey

A life of service and mission seems so much more fulfilling than living in the comfort of my own success.

Fast-forwarding to present day, my perspective of missions has continued to evolve. 

I spent this past summer as a construction coordinator/program coordinator for an organization called Experience Mission. 

Bouncer is a local in the Bahamas who worked with the teams every day they were there.  Photo by Patrick Griffey

My four-person summer staff team and I hosted and led mission teams all summer in Kentucky doing flood relief and, additionally, in the Bahamas doing hurricane relief from Hurricane Dorian, which struck in August 2019 and caused more damage to the islands than any hurricane in recorded history. 

The main purpose of our ministry was to work through the local church body in both Kentucky and the Bahamas, doing construction projects throughout those communities. 

We did some really good work. We were meeting all sorts of physical needs, helping to create relief for those who experienced devastation.

I left that summer feeling good about the work that was done, but there was something missing. 

My heart was mainly focused on providing for their physical needs. Not a bad thing, right?

When asked why we were doing the work, we would tell people that we love Jesus and we love them as well. 

We seemed to be doing all the right things. But my heart was left unsatisfied. 

All my life I had thought that when I was doing work for the Lord I would be filled with passion and leave satisfied. 

What was I missing? 

Our mission team finishes construction of one of many trusses for a house being built in the Bahamas.  Photo by Patrick Griffey

I came to realize that I wasn’t even meeting with the One who I said I was serving. 

I left unsatisfied because, at the end of the day, I was only sharing the God I used to intimately love and know. 

I know that God used us over the summer to glorify Him wherever we were serving, but what I really want to emphasize is that He deeply desires a relationship with you, more than anything you can do for Him. 

Don’t miss out on the unwavering love and intentionality of the Father because you just want the perception of following Him. 

In the book, “Blue Like Jazz,” Donald Miller says, “Everybody exaggerates when they are selling something. Everybody says their product works like magic. At the time I understood God’s offer as a magical proposition, which it is. But most magical propositions are just tricks.” 

To those who are working so hard to muster up the courage to live on mission for Christ, it is important to do the self check of asking, “Am I exaggerating what I am selling? Is God really as worth it as I say He is?” 

Are you truly in love with the Lord? Or is it merely something you tell people so you can convince yourself that you are? 

These questions cut deep and are really hard to answer, but I dare you to answer them honestly. 

This is not about bringing shame and guilt, it is instead an invitation to find a faith that is real and growing. 

As I have been digging deeper into my relationship with Christ outside of what people can see, I am remembering and seeing that these things are true. 

Following the Lord is worth losing everything for.

I am not just saying that because I am a Christian, but because I have been (and still am) finding that a life with Christ is the most fulfilling and satisfying life you can live. 

Patrick Griffey walks with Haitian children through their village near Les Hayes, Haiti. Parts of the photo have been blurred intentionally.  Photo courtesy of Patrick Griffey

But don’t just take my word for it. I hope and pray that you will find that out for yourself.

If God has called you to embark to serve in missions, you should go on mission trips, serve the poor, meet the needs of your community, go to Bible studies, share the Gospel, and sing praises to Him. 

But at the end of the day, if you don’t have a relationship with the God you say you are serving, deep down you’ll know that the faith you have is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

So dive into a relationship with Him, and I guarantee He will call you to something so much better than the illusion you have created. 

The invitation is on the table, will you take it?

–Edited and Page Design by Jessica Kunkel

This group photo is one of the many teams that Patrick Griffey worked with over the summer to serve the people in Kentucky and the Bahamas. Collective smiles after long, hard days of work reflect team members’ love for the Lord and His call to missions.      Photo courtesy of Patrick Griffey

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Patrick Griffey

Patrick Griffey

Patrick Griffey is an editor and journalist for MBU Timeline. He is pursuing a degree in communications studies with a minor in missions. Griffey is a residence assistant on campus, bass player for the acoustic group, Abide, and serves as the president of MBU Outdoors. He loves to spend time with friends and seek adventure outside. Griffey hopes to do mission work in Haiti long term after he graduates.

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