I’ve always had a desire to minister to children and had just started thinking about outreach and caring for the most vulnerable around me when I decided to go on a short-term ministry trip with the men’s team from our church. I was hesitant and nervous about leaving my family and I wondered how God could use me on a trip like this; but, I was sure He was guiding me to something I didn’t understand yet. I had been helping at a local daycare, and before that, had been a stay-at-home dad for my kids, so the thought of helping these kids really motivated me. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I was trusting in my Heavenly Father.

Twenty two hours of travel, arriving in a different country, and knowing only my team members, I clung to the hope that I could help and give to those who needed it. Little did I know that I would be the one who would be blessed and learn so much because of what God was teaching me. Over the 10 days, our team quickly developed relationships; and the joy, love, and heartbreak I felt for those I met was overwhelming. I knew I could never stop working for children in need once I started. I felt love growing for the kids who needed people speaking into their lives, but I didn’t expect to form so many relationships with the staff and team caring for these children every single day. I began to understand that we are all in this together. Caring for orphans and vulnerable children all over the world is part of all believer’s responsibility, whether it be in South Africa, America, or some other country.

During our week, I learned more about what helping children in need looks like; and while it’s a good thing to go on a short-term ministry in another country, the most critical aspect is learning how to continue serving families and children in the foster care system after the trip is over. The teaching that stuck out the most to me was called, “Finding Your Fit in Foster Care.” There are so many ways to engage in orphan and foster care and God uses all sorts of people and their unique gifts and talents to help meet needs. It is not always about taking in a lot of kids; but rather finding ways to help that fit your own skill set. Leaving Bethesda was bittersweet, but it was important for me to remember that things don’t end just because I left. There is more work to be done to care for these children at Bethesda as well as in my own community.

After coming back home, I immediately applied for the Court Appointed Special Advocate program (CASA) in my county. As a court-appointed advocate, I speak up in court for vulnerable children and look out for their best interests if their parents no longer can or will. It has been so rewarding. Two of the men that were with me on that mission trip joined with my wife and I in plans to begin our own outreach and teaching ministry in Northwest Indiana. We established this ministry in July, 2018 and already, we have been privileged to help so many kids. We set up events honoring our local CASA volunteers, as well as providing Christmas presents for children in a local homeless shelter. The work that happened in South Africa absolutely changed my life; and God willing, I will continue the work of orphan care for the rest of my life.

Timothy L. Carey Jr.
Faithfully Radical Ministries
Valparaiso, IN 46383

You may be thinking about leading or participating in a short-term ministry trip to Bethesda or some other place around the world. I would encourage you to read our blog, visit our website, and then contact us at serve@boi.org to learn more about how your church, small group, or family can plan a short-term ministry trip that will not only impact others but have a significant impact in your own life.