A Life Changing Story in Myanmar: Geoff Bunting’s Story
I think very often the term “life-changing” is thrown around when another word such as “impactful” or “inspirational” might be more accurate. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that myself at times, but I don’t think it would be an exaggeration at all to describe my first trip to Myanmar as completely and totally life-changing.
Flash back to the summer of 2008. For a few years leading up to that point, God had been giving me a passion for missions. I had served locally in several different ways and had been on a number of service trips within the U.S., but I had never been overseas… nor did I really see a need to go. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I was presented with an opportunity to go on a mission trip to Myanmar. I was intrigued and definitely interested. For a couple of reasons, though, I ended up deciding not to go. What happened next was unexpected. As soon as the deadline to sign up had passed, I was struck by a deep conviction that by not going I had messed up. I felt like I was missing out on something special God wanted to do in my life. I wondered if I was even being disobedient to God. For weeks I couldn’t shake that feeling. I made up my mind that I would go on the trip the following year.
In the coming months I learned everything I could about the country of Myanmar, its history, and the social issues it was plagued with. When the time came to sign up, I turned in my application and deposit, marked the dates on my calendar, and eagerly began the various trip preparations as my excitement grew.
Once I arrived in Myanmar, I was shocked by how “different” it was from what I was used to. No amount of research or knowledge can simulate the powerful effect of being fully immersed in a new place and a new culture. It was amazing. I was blown away by how, in spite of living with so little, the people I met had such joy and contentment. I was overwhelmed by the willingness of the orphans to freely show love and affection, knowing I would only be there for a short time. I was inspired by the all that the orphanages leaders and church planters were willing to sacrifice so that orphaned kids could be cared for and so that people in Myanmar could hear the Good News of Jesus. Just being around these great leaders and watching how they lived their lives was remarkably impactful.
I rarely show a lot of emotion. I’m the type of person who likes to slowly process my thoughts and experiences. In spite of this, I remember having the realization as I was on my way home that this trip was a significant event in my life. I didn’t know exactly what that meant at the time, but as I look back I can see that it was an experience God used to deepen my faith, to challenge me to live differently, and to propel me forward in a new direction in life. Though I’m still very much a work in progress, that trip caused me to start to reevaluate what I wanted my life to be about, how I wanted to spend my money and so many other things as well. In the coming years, God continued to stir my heart for missions, and after a few other significant milestones I ended up accepting a position as the Director of Operations at Uncharted International, meaning I spend most of week contributing to efforts to make Jesus known throughout the world.
My first Myanmar trip was life-changing, not because I came home and sold all of my possessions and moved to a different country (though I have considered it a few times) but because it was a milestone event that God used to radically impact my heart, my life, and my future.
To learn more about Uncharted International and see how you can have a short-term mission experience, visit their website.