It Is Heart Missionaries That Are Needed


“This trip doesn’t make sense. This is a medical missionary trip. We cannot serve without an entire team of medical doctors and dentists. There is no way! God, why did you even bring me here?” These were some of the thoughts running through my mind as the reality of the mission trip began to physically unfold before me. At the beginning of 2023, I took the leap of faith to apply to go to Thailand with ASAP Ministries and, within a few months, watched God open every door possible for me to go. I had never seen God work so fast in my life, so naturally my expectations going in were high, my eyes were wide open, and my heart was eager to seek and receive the blessing I knew was waiting for me in Thailand.

Halfway into the trip my heart began to quiver with doubt that there really wasn’t a purpose for me, and I feared I wasn’t making a difference in a country where less than 1% of the people are Christian. We had spent the first week helping Pakistani refugees in Bangkok with free medical, dental, vision, and counseling services, but I feared we weren’t making a difference. I had an expectation in my mind of the way God was going to bless me on this trip, and I became discouraged when we encountered challenge after challenge. It was clear Satan didn’t want us spreading the gospel in Thailand. It was difficult to build a full medical team, even though we had a few professionals, and it was challenging to serve in various areas while trying to protect the refugees. Despite these setbacks, people were thankful after their massages, smiling after their dental cleanings, excited after receiving their new pairs of glasses, informed after their health checkups with the nurses, and encouraged after their prayer and counseling sessions. However, the fear and doubt remained in my heart, and I questioned God and His exact purpose for me there. I felt helpless not having doctors to refer the people to and not being able to perform certain procedures the people needed because we lacked specific personnel. At home, I am a dental assistant, and it was hard to see such a great need that we couldn’t meet without other dental professionals. However, God was at work and had something special in store for me. I just had to be patient.

During the latter part of the trip, our team traveled to the Thai-Myanmar border and split into two groups working at two different Adventist schools. On the first day, as we arrived at the school, my heart was immediately broken over the love I was shown by students who didn’t even know my name. They had been waiting for us for months, preparing for our arrival, and all 500 children greeted us individually with pure joy and genuine love. That feeling and experience continued on throughout the whole week, and the lesson and purpose God had for me became clearer. “Our job is to show up and be there for these people,” said one of the pastors on the trip every morning before we went to the school, and it really stuck with me. This was the seed that helped me see what God had wanted to teach me all along—to serve and live as a “heart missionary.” 

On the last day, the children prepared an entire ceremony for us, thanking us for our service with traditional dances and special gifts for each one of us. We sang them one of their favorite praise songs in their heart language and hugged each one goodbye, but as we walked away, they all followed. You could hear them crying saying, “Please don’t leave.” One girl wrapped her arms around me and hugged me to the point where she couldn’t follow me farther. With tears in her eyes, through her broken English, she whispered words that would change my heart and life forever. “I don’t want you to go. You have changed my life. I love you. You are my mom.” I couldn’t believe what I heard. How could I have changed her life? How does she not only love me but see me as her mother? I felt I had done nothing special. I felt as if I just showed up, cleaned teeth, and did my best to interact with them and show them I cared. Right then and there, I began to see the blessing unfold that God had in store for me all along.

Amidst the warm, humid Thai air and the sound of tropical birds in banana trees, I understood what God was teaching me and the life-changing power of being a heart missionary. It means to show up and be there for people wherever they are, in whatever condition, and to love them as Christ would. This is the work that will really change lives. “It is heart missionaries that are needed. He whose heart God touches is filled with a great longing for those who have never known His love,” (Ministry of Healing, 150.2).  It is a practical mission that you and I can be a part of every day, no matter where we are, and at all times. We may not have had a team of surgeons, optometrists, dentists, or medical doctors on our trip to Thailand, but we had a team of heart missionaries who showed up and loved those people as Jesus would’ve. I believe that it was us being heart missionaries that changed their lives even more than extractions or cataracts surgery ever could, and I’m forever thankful God called me to be a part of this trip and to take this life-changing lesson of being a heart missionary, wherever I go.