Gap Year on ‘doing missions work’

This week we’re bringing you another reflection from Lydia, one of our Trent Vineyard Gap Year students. Part of going overseas to serve and live temporarily in a country, culture and situation that is not your own, is about experiencing God at work in a different place. And when people come to serve alongside us at Family Impact or in other local ministries, we value hugely the skills they bring, the tasks they do and the contribution they make. But much more than that, we hope that they come to know Jesus in a deeper way and that they grow personally.

Enjoy this reflection from Lydia…..


In contrast to last week, this week has been considerably busier, which suits me just fine. While I like having lots of free time, I prefer to be out and about, busy serving people, doing something new or meeting new people. But, after a conversation with Lynne, my perspective on my busyness changed.

The first 10 days were great: they were busy and exciting because everything was new. Yet, in the midst of all the excursions to Chipangali wildlife orphanage and lunches at Food Lovers, I felt I was doing a lot, but not the right kind of ‘a lot’. It just felt too much like a holiday: where were the impoverished children we would save? Where was the mud hut we’d be sleeping in? And why have I been fed (on average) two pieces of cake every day? Of course, I absolutely loved the first part of our trip, it was so fun, but I couldn’t shirk the voices that said ‘what would people say if they knew you were spending your time as a missionary eating ice-cream in the sun, lounging by the pool and perusing orphaned wildlife?’ Chances are, they won’t feel too thrilled that their money had financed a gap year holiday instead of a gritty, sand-in-your-shoes, lizard-in-your-bed missions trip.

And then I had a revelation.

It doesn’t actually matter what people think I’m doing.

Lynne reminded me that we’re saved by grace, not by works. I could call it quits and do nothing for the rest of my life and still be saved and loved by God. Now, I don’t think God has called me to an early retirement so, chances are, me resigning myself to a life of languor is probably not His will for my life. I’d most likely miss out on some cool stuff, but nevertheless, I could do it – and He’d still love me.

saved by grace

(Not that I need to because I’m saved by grace) but I just want to make a quick disclaimer and say that I have been serving and doing my best to help and love people where I can. From helping run numerous kids’ clubs, to assisting in a soup kitchen, to folding clothes in an orphanage, this missions trip has opened my eyes to so much, taught me a lot about myself and shown me God’s love for His people in an entirely new way. So in many ways, serving people has just been one of a number of purposes of this trip for me. But it’s humbling to know (and important to keep reminding myself) that this trip doesn’t make me better or more worldly and it certainly does not make me more holy; God by His grace wanted me on this trip because He wanted to show and teach me some amazing things. But, equally, if I hadn’t gone on this trip or if I had chosen to go straight to uni, nothing would be added to my worth, God would still love and treasure me the same and it still wouldn’t matter how much work people had thought I’d done.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” Ephesians 2:8 NIV

Written by Lydia Bernard-Brooks