Please read below to see what a few of our missionaries who have been on mission with us say:
It had been many years, some with thoughts of being a missionary and even an archeologist along with prayers to bring something that was missing into my life. And then I run into Stephen Smith after some 50+ years! And here I am now just back from my third mission TO THE NATIONS, Uganda, Haiti and then Columbia. Each experience has brought to me humility and peace. Sharing the different ways of helping children, the elderly and those with special needs has opened my eyes to what is needed in this world. Working with and sharing the work of our Lord with team members who have taught me something that has enriched my life. I learned very fast that you're never too young or old to say yes to mission, and I am so thankful to have personally heard and responded to the call as well as all the other missionaries, clergy, friends and family. My life has changed.
Email Stephen Smith if you want to know more or signup to one of our mission trip to Uganda, Haiti or Colombia.
I was so blessed to be able to visit Uganda, this summer, with To The Nations Missions. Stephen facilitates an amazing opportunity for serving and loving like Jesus, while growing spiritually in prayer and relationship. Africa was everything I expected and nothing like I expected. Digging foundations, distributing clothes, moving brick, and praying with people, was not unexpected. I am a youth minister, so service projects are part of the things I do. What I was not prepared for was the heart of the people.
I was blessed to meet Moses, a fellow youth minister, and his core team of volunteers. These young people inspired me pastorally and as a human being. They have a love for Jesus and their community that speaks to what the gospel is truly about.Being a part of their ministry for even a few days, was something I will never forget.The children are sweet and kind and long for attention. Similar to children here in the US, they love to play, be hugged and enjoy the simplest of gifts.
My name is Mathew Poe and I am a missionary. I am a sophomore at Union County High School and active Lifeteen member for St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. I learned of Stephen's mission when he came to talk to the children at VBS. I immediately knew I had to go as I had been wanting to go on mission with him to Haiti. I came home and told my mom I am going to Uganda with or without her consent. Little did I know that she had already been talking to Stephen about going on a mission trip with me. That's when I received a bag and a note saying that "You are a missionary." It was my first mission, first time on a plane, and my first time out of the US. When I first arrived in Uganda I wasn't sure how I would fit in with helping out as I was just a fifteen-year-old boy. The people immediately accepted me as family and I accepted them. The core team for Lifeteen Uganda quickly started talking to me and I grew closer to one specific person who's name is Moses Mugenyi. He never ceased to amaze me. He was an amazing people reader and one of the greatest friends and brother I will ever have. I got to put a check on my bucket list for playing soccer in Africa as well as eating grasshoppers. It was the first time I ever did something good and experiencing humility. When you gave the children clothes they would bow or get on their knees and say thank you; if you received something from them, they would bow instead of the other way around. They would apologize for something they didn't even have something to do with like if I tripped on a root or told them a story of when I got hurt. This mission changed my view of the world and life, it taught me to cherish everything. I viewed a three-month-old child die and I was angry. I was shown to be happy as the soul is now with the Father. I watched as children played with tires and washed in streams. I was exposed to so much as well as the happiness of the African people. I saw their faith and their joy and became filled with the same thing. I was upset to leave home but knew I had to go to share my experience with my friends, family, and strangers. I am definitely going to be back as there is still more to be done.
The teens are also typical teens: Straight forward, some with attitude, just trying to find their way. Yet, most of them live like adults, whether caring for their family or themselves.The majority of the population of Uganda is children: many of these cared for by their older siblings. They have no other choice. Finally, the women of Uganda, mostly widows: I long to be more like those I met. They have such strength, courage, strong work ethic and dedication to their families and community. My heart was changed by their kindness and humility.
Most of the country lives in deep physical poverty, but spiritually they are most fortunate. Coming home, my goal was not to try and change everything about my way of life but to be more thankful for even the smallest gifts that I am given. To take nothing for granted and give of my heart to whomever I meet.
Today as I saw picture after picture of people voting and reminding others to do the same, the idea of freedom made its way into my thoughts. I was brought back to a time when I sat on the dusty ground of a prison in Uganda celebrating mass amongst a sea of yellow garments worn by men to symbolize and identify their captivity. I looked around and saw the faces of those in these yellow garments to be radiant faces of those with their eyes so fixated on the Lord. I held hands with these holy men as we prayed the Our Father and I thought to myself, “I’m the prisoner here.” These men, these prisoners, were prisoners in this world but they were not prisoners of this world. In their times of darkness and brokenness, they had turned to God and were celebrating a life of spiritual freedom in a place of worldly captivity. And I knew that I was the true prisoner. How often have I been a prisoner to the opinions of others? How often have I been a prisoner to how the world thinks I should be and act? How often have I been a slave seeking the validation from others and the world when my validation has already been given to me as a gift when Jesus died on the cross for me so that I could live a life of true heavenly freedom with Him? How often? I looked upon the faces of these men and I saw the faces of future saints and I knew in my heart that Jesus was calling them to live a life of freedom with Him. And if God was calling these men to be saints, then He was calling the same of me. He is calling me to a life of true freedom and authentic love with Him. And He’s calling you all to the same. I know I’m not the only one who struggles to break the chains of this world. Let’s do it together. I love you all and am praying for you tonight. Let’s seek true freedom today and always.