In 2019, LIA had over 150 people from the US, Europe, and the UK go on short-term teams, internships, and site visit trips with us to Africa and the Caribbean. We love this, because we firmly believe that the church is beyond borders and cultures, that God is at work when his people from across the globe join hands and come together to learn from each other.

This year hasn’t gone as we expected, and because of the pandemic, we’ve been unable to host the majority of our planned trips for 2020. However, the lessons learned from spending time in the communities we serve and pursuing wholistic missions continue to have impact once people are home again. In this season, while travel is restricted, past experiences on LIA trips are shaping the way people are doing ministry in their own communities.

For Morgan Kast, who interned with us in Kenya and Ethiopia last summer, engaging with LIA helped her see the importance of ministering to people as whole beings. She says, “The Lord sees his people, his creation, as a whole. He cares for and values our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states. As someone who desires to love and serve others, seeing this ministry model in action helped me understand the importance of meeting people’s needs where they are at in order to effectively share and express the gospel.”

These days, Morgan is interning for another nonprofit ministry, helping to host summer camps for refugee young people in her city, specifically girls ages 9 to 14. “I know that for them to accept what I have to say about Christ, I have to build a relationship with them, make sure they feel valued and heard, and help with their emotional trauma.” Although this summer is different than planned, Morgan says, “God has been teaching me that no matter where I am –Africa or at home– I can still be used to give the glory back to Christ while serving and loving others.”

Another person who has been doing just that since he got back from his LIA trip to South Sudan is Scot Strong. He says that one thing he saw while there was the importance and potential of the local church. “The LIA model holds up the church as being the catalyst for all meaningful and sustainable change in a community. We channeled all our efforts through the church in Terekeka so that the people would see us supporting them rather than having an agenda of our own.” Scot says this was a way of helping without hurting. “It really seemed like a much more sensible and effective approach – especially after we saw it in action.”

Back home, Scot leads a men’s small group, where several people have told him he returned from his trip a changed man. “They observe someone with new resolve to support the church as being the anchor for the community. And I definitely recognize this in myself.” Throughout the pandemic, Scot has also been spending significant time helping the unemployed find meaningful work. “It requires doing regular one-on-one coaching that I have greater appreciation for after the trip. I can now see how important it is to do whatever we can, often one person at a time.”

Martha Hamilton, who has been involved in our BeFriend program, has had multiple opportunities to go to Africa, most recently visiting Uganda. She says it’s been a privilege witnessing God at work around the globe. “There is no greater joy than to see others come to know God’s precious love for them and to work beside like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ. It is so humbling to me to be part of the great commission for his name’s sake.” She recognizes that, “with Christ centered in the heart of our work, health, education, economic, and social transformation happens and communities are strengthened and encouraged to love their neighbors as themselves.”

Now, Martha continues to pursue ways to serve her community. “Locally today, I look at the work of my hands the Lord has provided as a continuation of LIA’s transformation model. People need one another to encourage them along the way to look up first and see what God says about the issues they are facing and to trust the Lord to help them do the next right thing.”

LIA is so grateful that during this season what people have learned through past trips with us continue to play a role in their personal and missional lives in their own communities. We pray that like Morgan, Scot, and Martha, you too would be inspired to wholistically serve others through the local church these days at home and that you’d experience joy as you see God work.

While no trips are taking place currently, if you feel led to engage more with the work of LIA in the future, please visit our partnerships page to find out how you can get involved.