MEET MAKAEHLA DEMBS: being born into a mutiethnic family, she expanded her world view, made a commitment to serve, and longs to look more like love every day!
What made you decide to go on your first mission trip?
It’s safe to say that have been wandering the world as long as I have been walking. My first international trip was when I was only 18 months old. Growing up in a multiethnic family (Indian, African American, and Caucasian), I have always been aware of and intrigued by culture, worldview, and religious beliefs. My grandmother, who is 100% Indian, was born and raised in Japan, and my mom was the first to become a Christian in her family. Still, our family and her younger sister are the only believers amongst this side of our family.
Engaging with my extended family and seeing the range of beliefs held and getting asked about my own faith and lifestyle made me aware of and passionate about the love and hope of Jesus invading the broken, hopeless, and dark places of this world. Along with that, I developed a heart for justice at a very young age. This compassion for people, curiosity for culture and beliefs, and awareness of the injustices of this world (could not see a homeless person without getting upset) led me to declare at age 6 that I wanted to be a missionary. It was cute and funny then, by that desire to minister to the least of these and go to the ends of the earth only grew from there. I continued to travel with my family to see my extended family abroad, and as soon as I was given the opportunity to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in junior high, I was packing my bags & ready to go!
You’ve been on multiple mission trips and have traveled all over the world. What’s one thing you believe is universal between all people groups ?
Having been to 10+ countries in my 21 years, I have been able to see so much beauty in the diversity of peoples and cultures. I also have been able to see a thread of similarity in all peoples. No matter where you go, people long to belong. They long to be seen, known, and valued in some capactity. As believers, we get to tell people about the ways in which they are met and cared for by El Roi, the God Who Sees Us, and are called His beloved. This truth makes way for the joy of the Lord to be experienced, felt, and lived into by all, no matter where they are, what language they speak, or their circumstances. We get to communicate this by loving people well, and in a holistic way, through missions!
What have you learned through fundraising for your various trips?
Fundraising can be hard and frustrating at times. Different trips have required different things of me and have stretch my creativity, savings account, and boldness. When we are faithful to work hard, spread the word, and to use as many as our gifts and talents to fundraise in creative and unique ways, fundraising can also be a lot of fun and so encouraging as people come alongside you in support!
Shirts from Fund the Nations have been a great way to gather financial support as well as a prayer team! When people buy a shirt, ask them to pray for you each time they go to put it on. I’ve loved getting pictures of supporters wearing their shirts, knowing they are thinking of and praying for the work of the Lord to be done in and through me!
When you know the Lord is calling you to go be the light of the world, you can trust Him to be faithful to provide each time, in new ways, and in His perfect timing!
What has going and serving taught you about love?
It’s really simple. Loving doesn’t always need a translator, it doesn’t require fancy things or gifts, you don’t always need to look cute or smell good or have it all together. Just show up and love others with all you’ve got. As Bob Goff says, “We make loving people a lot more complicated than Jesus did,” which is so true! Jesus just did. So go, just love people. Love everyone and live love out always, everywhere you go. Jesus said is John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about serving others?
Serving others happens everywhere and in the smallest ways. It is not just to be done on service days or mission trips halfway around the world. Love the person being rude to you at work or in the grocery store. Smile at others often, be polite, apologize when you need to, and be willing to learn from others. Be hospitable everywhere you go. Offer what you have, whether it’s just a cup of crappy coffee and a blanket in your tiny dorm room or a hand to hold and a smile that needs no translation in the bush of Zimbabwe. Tell your story and listen to the stories of others. Show up, be present, and love as sacrificially as you can. It doesn’t always need to be “service” or “ministry,” it should just be who you are and what you do day. Looking like Jesus in this way is an ongoing process for believer, so be patient with yourself and look for simple ways to look more like love each day!