Next week I have the opportunity to travel to Haiti to help teach at the Grace Theological Institute. I have never taught a course overseas, so I am a little nervous for the logistics of working with a translator and trying to connect with the students. However, I am very excited because this is an awesome opportunity to partner with brothers and sisters in Haiti for the spread of the Gospel among their own people.

When I hear people talk about trips like the one I will be taking next week, they tend to focus upon the things they hope to accomplish. It is good to think about goals for such a trip, but I don’t often hear people consider what God might want to teach them during their time overseas. I want to share a few things that I am hoping God will do in me next week, and I hope they are an encouragement to you:

I am praying for God to use my Haitian brothers and sisters to teach me about having joy in all circumstances.

The reality they live in each day is far different from mine. Many things I deem to be necessities would be viewed as luxuries to them: hot water, electricity, three meals per day, and so on. There is physical suffering from illness and lack of material needs everywhere you look. Yet in spite of those differences, I have been overwhelmed with the joy Haitian believers have in Christ. I pray God will use them to help teach me that kind of joy next week.

I am praying for God to chip away at the idols of materialism and comfort in my life.

I have grown accustomed to a certain standard of living that far exceeds that of most people in the world. Even though I recognize this fact, I am still so attached to things in my life and often miss ways in which God may be calling me to radical generosity because I don’t want to let go of my stuff. I pray God will continue to give me greater freedom from these idols next week.

I am praying for God to remind me of the centrality of making disciples in my life and in the life of the Church.

When in the midst of poverty, it is easy to become so aware of physical needs causing spiritual needs to fade into the background. However, after making several trips to Haiti and working with people in poverty in a variety of settings, I continue to be impressed how addressing issues of the heart with the good news of the Gospel is truly most pressing. Helping to alleviate a man’s hunger for a day is a good thing, but how much greater it is to satisfy the hunger of his soul with the Gospel for all eternity! I pray God will remind me of this truth next week.

Please pray for me next week! Pray that God will use me to encourage and spur on our Haitian brothers who are training for pastoral ministry. Pray also that God will teach me through my interactions and observations, so I might continue to grow in sanctification through this entire process.

Dustin Speaks is the Mission Mobilization Pastor. He and his wife, Lauren, arrived in Columbus in the fall of 2012, after several initial ministry experiences. Dustin previously served as an associate pastor in South Dakota and as a missionary to university students in Berlin, Germany. Dustin studied history at Ohio University, where he met Lauren, and was involved in campus ministry with Cru. After graduation, the Speaks went to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Chicago) to complete a degree in Intercultural Studies. He enjoys playing nearly all ball sports—basketball, golf, and soccer are his favorites. Dustin and Lauren have three young children.