Beans, Rice and Jesus Christ

by John Markum, pastor, LifeCity Church
Missions Trips

Photos: Patrick Fore, Creative Director of Ocean View Church, San Diego

I was 17 years old when I went on my first international missions trip to Panama to do medical work in some extremely remote places along the gulf coast of the narrow country. It was this experience, in part, that compelled me not only to ministry, but specifically toward working to reach the least reached. A missions trip literally changed the course of my life. Then God called us to plant LifeCity Church in the heart of Silicon Valley. Not exactly the same kind of jungle – and yet, every spectrum of ethnic and social diversity from around the planet is found within a small radius of the elementary school where our church plant currently meets.

Last month, I had the privilege of taking two other folks with me from LifeCity to join our friends at Ocean View Church in San Diego for a missions trip across the border into Tijuana, Mexico. For years OVC has been taking teams into Mexico to work with orphanages, provide food, give to communities and families in ways they seldom get to experience and, most importantly, share the gospel in meaningful, personal ways. They like to call it beans, rice and Jesus Christ. And for us it was the beginning of a vision God began in my heart as a teenager in Panama.

Enoc Rivera, a Mexican-raised pastor on staff at OVC, has been preparing with his church family to move across the Mexican-U.S. border sometime in 2017 with another family from the church. They plan to plant a daughter church in the middle of the impoverished colinas (hills) outside the city of Tijuana. I personally made it my mission to bug him the entire week we were with him in the country, trying to get a grasp on the calling and challenges they were stepping into, and how we as a church plant that received support from OVC can now return the favor by partnering with their newest mission to spread the gospel into Mexico.

When you see the overwhelming need, disadvantages and living conditions these kids and families accept as everyday life, and then match that with the joy and gratitude they express for being the hands and feet of Christ to them – it’s indescribable. And all of these emotions are just the tip of the iceberg when you realize that because you took the time and energy to go on this trip, God was using you to show his love toward them. It’s a tidal wave of experiences that will move you long after the trip is over.

Sometime next year we anticipate having Enoc and his wife Betty up to Santa Clara to join us and share the vision directly with our LifeCity congregation. And yes, we’re planning on going back to Tijuana next summer with them, hopefully with a team of six to 12 this time.

I’ve shamelessly ripped the mantra that OVC uses to express their commitment to send people to do ministry across borders: “Go on a missions trip–it’ll change your life.”

It changed my life as a teenager 17 years ago this summer. And because of that experience I’m now a pastor leading others into the same kind of life-changing experiences. It is my sincerest prayer that one day we’ll be sending dozens or hundreds of men and women into ministry here, near and far away, just as God did in my life and in Enoc’s life.

Go on a missions trip. It will change your life.

Converge has short-term missions trip opportunities in countries such as Thailand, Kenya, Cambodia and in the Middle East. Learn more.

This blog first appeared on

    Point - September 2018

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