CWN.org - MOZAMBIQUE - Jesus commanded his followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
Now, a new generation is heeding that 2,000-year-old call to the ends of the earth.
What's it like for a16-year-old on her first missions trip? Grace Mitchell traveled to the African nation of Mozambique and experienced first hand what it's like on the mission field.
"Everyone should have this experience, especially people my age," she said.
Grace spent a week at the Zimpeto orphanage of Iris Ministries just outside Mozambique's capital of Maputo. Here they care for 350 orphans from infants to teenagers, host a school for the community and use the facility as a base for ministry outreach.
"I expected nothing like this," Grace said. "The kids were so loving and they want your attention and everything like that, and I thought it would be depressing--not like this at all."
"They just come up to you and climb all over you, pull you to the ground, play on you and give you so much love," she added.
Steve Lazar is the director of Zimpeto.
"Most of us have a very narrow view of [what] missions is about," he explained. "Many of us think missions is about going into deepest part of dark Africa and getting boiled in a pot or something like that. But there's many opportunities for missions."
Those opportunities include caring for babies, many infected with the aids virus. Others include simply cleaning up, working with the students at the school or community outreach.
One of the most dramatic goes to a place called the Boccaria, an area next to the city dump.
The dump appears other-worldly. Here hundreds of people eek out a living off the refuse of others. It's a barren place, but fertile ground for the seeds of the gospel.
Right next to this brutal poverty, they've planted a church. It provides spiritual hope, physical nourishment and joy in the face of crushing circumstances. During Grace's own mission experience, she found she wasn't alone.
More than 1,000 visitors come to Zimpeto every year. They come from all walks of life and from all over the world. This team came all the way from Australia. As they say in Down Under, when it comes to going on the mission field ... "no worries mate!"
Pastor Kathy Gray brought this team from Australia-- the ninth time she's exposed people to life on the mission field.
"They all say they don't want to go home. And yet, in going home they go home as changed people," she said. "You can't ever be the same again after experiencing a place like this where Jesus is and His love is. I think it's priceless."
Part of Gray's team included this mother and daughter.
"We just today had some time together and cried together," the mother said. "I think there is even a greater connection between her and I because of it."
This team from Youth with a Mission came to Zimpeto on their way from New Zealand throughout Africa.
"It's just an incredible experience just to be able to witness God in so many nations, being able to see His creativity and most importantly to see the world's heart for Him," one member said.
But many say missions is not just for the young.
"I love missions trips and I love the children and I've learned a lot about the people of Africa and a lot about the people of Africa and I've come in contact with people that I never would have come in contact with before and it's really great," volunteer Heather Hammonds remembered.
Many say meeting people is one of the benefits of missions.
Grace found friends her age among the Australian group. They all made friends with the children of the orphanage and spent time together, whether playing Tic-Tac-Toe in the sand or letting the African girls braid their hair. But Grace and others spent only a short time away from home.
What about long term missionaries? It would be misleading to think the mission field is not without risks, but many of those serving full time - like Sarah - believe the rewards far outweigh the risks.
"The biggest risk for me was just leaving my family and friends, but I've come here and been surrounded by so many people who love me, and these boys and the older youth, just even the missionaries here," she said. "There's such an incredible community here that I don't feel that I've lost anything."
Grace experienced that community briefly. How would she sum up a week on the mission field where it was a time to make friends, comfort the poor and share the gospel?
"Now that I've been here for a week and have seen the living conditions and how rough it would be to live here, I just have so much more respect for everyone and how they live," Grace said.
Lazar has a suggestion for those considering missions.
"Instead of going to Disney Land or maybe to your favorite beach resort, come to the mission field," he said. "It can be in Mozambique, it can be in the Caribbean, it can be in Mexico, all over the world come get your heart broken for the things that break God's heart."
Grace Mitchell is reporter Chris Mitchell's daughter.