My Mission Trip Fail

God’s Man

From the time of my conversion as an 18-year-old, I was all-in. An unashamed Jesus Freak, I witnessed in my college classes, quoted scripture to my druggie friends, and created a radio show to play “Jesus music” on the brand-new campus radio station. My unrestrained boldness later got me kicked off the station. My prayer was, “Lord, I’ll go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do. I will follow wherever you lead me.” And I believed it until my first mission trip.

The Scottish Revival Team

While in seminary in California, I joined a team planning an 8-week mission trip to Scotland. We prostrated ourselves on the floor praying together and fasting every week. We believed that God would use us to impact towns and cities leaving a trail of revival behind us.

None of us were prepared for the hardness of heart and outright rejection of the gospel that met us like the stone walls around the city of Dundee. Before going on the streets to witness, we prayed until we felt the clouds of darkness lift. Sometimes we prayed 4 to 6 hours straight. I remember a man telling me emphatically while pointing to his 4 year-old son, “I’m going to hell and so is he, and I don’t care!” He turned, quickly boarded a bus and was off in a puff of smoke, leaving me feeling sorry for him and angry at his spiritual blindness.

We met 12- and 13-year-old alcoholics who were more vile and hard-hearted than the off-duty Marines we witnessed to back in California. Day after day and week after week, rejection after rejection, my soul became sick from seeing people in such hopeless darkness.


When I returned from that mission trip, wounded and spiritually broken, I knew that if God called me to return to Scotland as a missionary, I wouldn’t have what it took to say yes. No longer was I God’s man for any assignment. I had failed in Scotland and failed as a disciple of unwavering obedience. From then on, I would walk with a limp.

A Door into God’s Grace

Being broken and unable to trust in my own heroic obedience opened a door of God’s grace. Whatever I do, whatever challenges of faith I overcome, it is only by the grace of God. Any lasting fruit from the work of Firefall International is by His grace. 

The relationship I have with you, and your faithfulness in prayer, and generosity in giving is (you guessed it!) only because of the grace of God.

We see God at work, joining our hearts together and joining us all with our partners in other nations. We watch the Lord saving lives and transforming communities. We can lift our hearts together in worship and know that He has done it all by His grace for the praise of His glory!

Learn more about Jim’s life in ministry by reading his new book, Finding My Father.