Candyce and I got to talk about missions at a junior camp this week. Four times a day, for 45 minutes, we shared our short term mission experiences with about fifty 4th-6th graders.
Candyce spoke on Monday. She brought down the house with her “Hip-hip-hippopotamus” song, making sure even the coolest 6th graders fully entered into this cross-cultural interpretive dance. Then she wowed the kids with a powerful slide show featuring pictures from her India outreach. She talked about God’s call on her life, her preparation for missions, and the many missional adventures she’s had the past few years.
Then Candyce asked for questions. The kid’s lively inquiries tumbled out one after another, ranging from silly to insightful. (Her actual responses are in parenthesis):
Did you ever step in camel poop?” (Hasn’t everyone?)
Did you ever eat bats? (No, have you?) I hear they eat lots of bats in Africa!
If you didn’t worship our God, which Hindu god would you worship? (None of them—they are all evil!)
“What does God sound like?” piped a timid voice from the back of the room. After all, Candyce had stated that God told her to go to Africa. Apparently this young lady wanted to make sure she wouldn’t miss a similar summons.
“Well, God has never spoken to me audibly,” Candyce admitted. “But I heard Him speak clearly to my heart.”
I kicked off my talk on Tuesday by asking the kids a few questions. Did anyone know the last words Jesus spoke to His followers while He was still on earth?
"See you later?" one boy boldly queried.
"It is finished?" another chimed in.
"Um, I think He said to go and tell the nations about the gospel," a girl on the back row offered.
"That's right!" I agreed. "And that is the foundation of missions. That's why Candyce and I--and all the other speakers you'll hear this week--travel around the world to talk about Jesus. He asked us to!"
Then I threw out a trick question: "How old do you have to be to become a missionary?"
Most of their hands shot up immediately.
"Zero," one young man offered. "You don't have to be any age at all."
"Right again!" I applauded. "Candyce was only six when she starting going with us into Native villages and telling the other children about Jesus. She was younger than all of you! How cool is that?
The really cool thing is that three girls approached me at lunch that day, their mustard-smudged faces all lit up with joy.
"We want to go with you to Alaska next summer!" they giggled in unison. "We want to be missionaries now!"