Mission Trips Invitation, 2019

I will be leading two mission trips this Summer.  The first will be to Lebanon in May, with exact dates pending.  The second will be to Burundi, June 16th to July 2nd.  We had an informational meeting for the Lebanon trip on February 15th.  I believe at least 3 people will confirm their participation in that trip.  I want it to be a small trip, but I believe I still have room for a couple more people. Our informational meeting for the Burundi trip is tomorrow night at 7 pm at my home, located at 4324 Avenida Gregory, Spring Valley, CA.  I am hoping to have a team of 4-6 for that trip as well.
 
BURUNDI
 
The annual mission trip to Burundi is a terrific trip for Christians who do not necessarily want to do direct door-to-door evangelism.  Burundi is already a largely Christian country.  In fact, the evangelical church in Burundi is alive and well.  Sure, there are many Muslims and Animists in Burundi, but most people recognize the true God and acknowledge Jesus Christ.  The problem in Burundi is that Burundian Christians feel isolated and forgotten by the rest of Christendom.  Burundi is small, poor beyond poor, war torn, and landlocked.  Burundians feel like the ugly stepchildren in a family of beauties.  They want and need to know that the rest of the world, particularly Christians in America and the rest of the western world, are aware of their plight and are praying for them.  They long for this assurance.
 
Although GCA is known for its humanitarian work in Burundi, I am constantly reminded by our partners that while relief programs and structures are very important, it is even more important for us to just be prayerfully present in the country on a regular basis.  They ache to be our friends and to have us be theirs.  I have never failed to receive anything less than the warmest of welcomes.
 
By and large, the mission to Burundi is not a physically strenuous one.  We spend a lot of time socializing with our partners and the Batwa people in our adopted village of Gahararo.  We also teach biblical storytelling.  (I will train you the technique in the weeks leading up to the trip.)  There is a little hiking, but nothing too strenuous.  We also visit my American friends, Isai and Samantha Torres and their two children, who are permanent missionaries in Bukeye.  Again, this is a mission of comfort.  The Torres family rarely gets visits from other Americans.
 
The trip to Burundi is fun and rewarding.  I can promise you that if you decide to join me, you will come to love the country and its people as much as I do.  At least come to the informational meeting so you can hear more about the trip!
 
LEBANON
 
The trip to Lebanon is going to be quite different.  It is also a country of conflict and division.  The conflicts in Lebanon are much more difficult to understand, even for me, a man of Lebanese descent.  It is quite different than Burundi in the sense that most of the people we will be working with are Muslims, not Christians.  For the most part, they have never heard the Gospel, especially the Syrian refugees who will be the primary focus of our evangelism.  They are, however, hungry to hear the truth about Jesus and His saving grace.  In fact, hundreds turn out to hear the Word whenever and wherever it is proclaimed.  I believe we will witness miracles unlike anything we’ve ever seen when we are speaking the Word to these spiritually hungry souls.
 
The trip to Lebanon will be a pioneering trip for me and my group.  I have only been to Lebanon once as an adult.  Although I believe I have located several trustworthy partners to team with in various parts of the country, my group will be helping me to continue my due diligence in this regard.  In addition, it will be a little less structured than the trip to Burundi in the sense that where we go and exactly what we do is still unfolding.  We may teach biblical storytelling as we do in Burundi.  We will be going to refugee camps, but whether we will be teaching the Bible to groups or individuals is still to be determined between me and the pastors with whom we will be working. 
 
My goal is eventually to do a humanitarian project in Lebanon of the type we do in Burundi and Mexico.  However, what that looks like is still up in the air.  My group will be helping me figure that out!  I want my trip mates to return to the United States with ideas that they can help me promote to prospective donors.
 
So, you see what I mean about the trip to Lebanon being a pioneering one.  It is an unknown place and situation.  I can promise you though that it will be an exciting experience.
 
A word about safety.  I have made 19 trips to Burundi, 15 of them alone (by design).  I have never felt a moment of fear.  True, it’s a strange and unfamiliar place.  However, I have exceptionally reliable partners who make sure we are safe, stay in clean hotels, and have clean food.  Other than my first trip when I was there entirely alone, not knowing a single soul, and eating in places without regard to their reputation for cleanliness, I have never gotten sick.  And the strife in Burundi is not religious or racial, but strictly tribal.  The people are wonderful and the country is beautiful.
 
I just spent eight days in Lebanon.  I never felt a minute of fear, even in the Bekaa Valley and Tyre, predominantly Muslim areas.  I freely interacted with Muslims in the cities, in the countryside, and in the refugee camps I visited.  Beirut is a magnificent and beautiful city.  It is ancient yet also modern, cosmopolitan, and sophisticated.  I felt as safe there as anywhere in Europe, for example, or any large city in America.  It has incredible nightlife and is very fun.  There are great restaurants and nice and clean hotels.  I walked all over the downtown and other districts as well without any concern.  All the merchants accept American dollars.
 
In any event, please join me for tomorrow night’s informational meeting regarding Burundi.  I can assure you a great experience.  I will probably have another informational meeting regarding the Lebanon trip in early to mid-March, but please let me know if you’re interested and I’m happy to meet with you.
 
Blessings!
 
Niles

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