This post was written by Ashley Caldwell, High School Ministry Assistant.

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to take a mission trip to Portugal, and God really rocked my world. Our only objective for the week was find someone you don’t know (easy enough), and learn their story.

One of our missionary friends explained a truth to us, but had I not been on this trip I would have never experienced it. You see, with most mission trips I’ve been on in the past, I was always led to believe that the place we were going didn’t have Jesus – that we had to go take him there. I learned during the week in Portugal that this is not the case. God was already there working in people’s lives before we, or any other missionaries, arrived. We were simply there to help them realize it.

The greatest thing I learned this trip was grace. It is absolutely beautiful when you let it take over. I didn’t learn it by sitting in a church or by hanging out at the Christian bookstore. I learned it by hanging out with sinners. I learned it by hanging out with people who are messy and messed up. I experienced loving people through their sins genuinely for the first time. I experienced how Christ loved the nobodies he hung out with, even in the midst of their filth. I learned that the grace Jesus offered made the religious people hate him while the unholy people were drawn to him because of it.

I challenge you to determine where you stand between these two groups. Have you become like the Pharisees, comfortable and satisfied to dwell with the other religious people in your own temples? Or is the grace that saved you something you live out every day?