"Missions is Not My Calling:" A story of Personal Revitalization
Matthew Carter was doing his wife a favor when he reluctantly agreed to go with St. Paul’s UMC of Bridge City to Haiti earlier this year. “No part of me wanted to go to the most poverty stricken part of the world where people spoke a different language than I spoke,” admits Carter. “I did not see this as my calling since nothing about it sounded interesting.”
Arriving in Haiti on the second anniversary of the earthquake brought the group a unique perspective. “It was deemed a school holiday and the Methodist church there had a church service that lasted most of the day,” he adds. “Even seeing it two years after the fact, it was hard to believe all that devastation happened in a mere 35 seconds!”
“Some of my misconceptions were quickly cleared up, while in Haiti,” he says. “The culture there is one of action, but they can’t help themselves because they have no resources. To get the money to the right places, it is best to actually take it yourself, which was very eye opening once I was there.”
“The most rewarding part of the trip occurred on the last day,” he says. “Kids would come to our work site because they knew we brought a soccer ball and jump rope for them to play with. With so much poverty, these items had to be used under supervision.
Amidst the piles of trash and tent cities, seeing the children scream with excitement and gratefulness over one ball was incredible. I could not help asking why I was so blessed to have everything I wanted at my fingertips. I had always heard this kind of experience was humbling, but I did not get it until I actually experienced it.”
Once back in Bridge City, Matthew did not really feel any different initially. “I was driving to work a few days after I got back and my normal did not feel normal any more,” admits Matthew. “I felt my routine was useless. I told my wife that the trip ruined my job, but that inspired me to pray and talk to the pastor about possibly helping in youth ministry.” What happened next felt like a divine appointment.
“When I called Pastor Brad noted the ‘weird timing’ as he had (just 20 minutes earlier) spoken with the current youth director who was ill and needed someone to step in. This was just one of many things that confirmed my heart’s calling as I began balancing a fulltime job and part time ministry role.” In May, Matthew made it official. Although he does not have children of his own yet, he joined the staff of St. Paul’s as youth director —- which never would have happened without his trip to Haiti. “I still have to balance this with my other job, but I look forward to Wednesday nights, camps, UM Army and water days this summer with the kids. I would encourage others who are timid about the idea of a mission trip…to be bold and try it at least once whether you want to or not!” He adds, “Your worship will have a whole new meaning.”