Mission Trip to Triangle Lake
The field at Misty Meadows was rimmed with tents and RVs last weekend as Evergreen held its annual Family Camp in Triangle Lake, Oregon. Many of us wondered in the weeks leading up to it if this long-standing tradition would still happen this year. Many others wondered if it should happen in light of the pandemic. It was a challenging dilemma.
I had been researching the applicable regulations (a dizzying task) and did not find anything that prohibited our event. I also considered the input from various members and heard everything from “we are taking a huge risk here” to “there is no real danger here.” I thought perhaps it would be a smaller group than usual, but as the registration numbers climbed past our average, I admit that I wondered, “Lord, are we being foolish?”
His answer came within 24 hours. I got a picture in my mind of one of our short-term mission teams assembling in the church foyer preparing to head out to one of our foreign fields. There were piles of totes and baggage, a flurry of last-minute activity and then a circle of anxious and excited people circling up to pray before departure. Above their little prayer circle, I heard Jesus speaking, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20)
Immediately I had peace. This was my answer to the concerns about safety. Why have this event when there is risk of a covid outbreak in our camp? Mission. Jesus commissioned us to make disciples and there is no way to do that without taking some risk. I knew this was true for missionaries and mission trips, but I had somehow forgotten it applies to us and our event. The reality of the risk (I’ll let you decide the level of risk we took) is the reason for Jesus’ powerful assurance that he will be with us all the way.
This does not mean we threw caution to the wind. We implemented a number of safety precautions for the event, including taking everyone’s temperature upon arrival, physical distancing and wearing masks at campfire times. There is great debate as to the effectiveness of these measures, but everyone agrees they are a nuisance. Why should we have to put on those annoying masks? Mission. We know that in the process of making disciples of all nations, missionaries do many things that are not their preference – eating differently, dressing differently, talking differently and the like. We know this is true for missionaries, but we somehow think we should never be inconvenienced in our own ministries here at home.
I shared this vision of mission with everyone who came to Family Camp, and I can testify that the weekend was an extremely fruitful time of disciple making. It was a powerful reminder to me as we continue to work through these challenging times of what our highest priority must be: mission. Yes, freedom is precious and safety is important, but let us be people who prioritize Jesus’ mission above all.