Hungary Mission Trip Reflection by Rev. Rob Kirbach, First Baptist Church of Highland, IL
“Pastor, am I too old to go on the mission trip?” Linda, age 75, asked me this question, fearful her age might disqualify her from serving on our church mission trip to Hungary. Her reaction was an exciting combination of curiosity and anticipation when I told her she wouldn’t even be the oldest member on the mission team.
In early September 2019, a team of ten souls from First Baptist Church of Highland, IL were commissioned as short-term missionaries to Hungary, to support the ministries of our Global Servants there. Seven of those ten are over the age of 70.
Leading a mission trip with “seasoned” adults is not without its challenges. Extra attention to medical needs becomes an essential part of pre-trip planning. Mobility concerns affect transportation logistics. The group generally moves at more of a relaxed pace; it’s important to remember this when planning the itinerary. And, of course, the most vital part of planning any mission trip is prayerfully discerning how God can use the skills of the team, whatever their age.
Thankfully, God’s call to mission knows no age limits.
During our trip to Hungary, mission work meant simply giving our time and attention to Hungarian children struggling to learn English. Sometimes it meant playing games with them – laughing together and learning from one another. Sometimes it was making hamburger patties for a young adults cookout or waffles for a Bible study group in the Hungarian Baptist Church. Sometimes it was as simple as seeing with our own eyes how God is already at work in another country and culture, and then coming alongside in prayerful partnership and support.
As a 36-year-old pastor, I might not instinctively look to my senior adults when planning new ministry or mission opportunities in my church. But this mission trip has taught me to never overlook the call to serve God places on a person’s life, no matter their age. This trip also reminded me of what mission work is really all about. It’s true that sometimes our Global Servants benefit from volunteers with specialized skills and certain abilities. But at its very core, mission work is about a desire to serve others – rooted in divine compassion and nurtured by God’s own spirit of generosity and love. Near the conclusion of our trip, one of our Hungarian ministry partners presented our team a handmade ceramic plaque with the Hungarian words Isten hozott – “God brought you here”.
Indeed, God brought a team of ten willing servants into the mission field to share our love of Christ with others.
Nobody on the team was too old to do that.