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Why Go Every Year?

Why Go Every Year?


“Crissy, you have to come here and see this,” my husband, Ryan, called from the other room one August day in 2021.

“In a minute,” I responded absentmindedly.

“Trust me, you’re going to want to see this,” he insisted.

So, I got up and walked over to the living room. And there, standing in my house in Chillicothe, Ohio (when they should have been in Texas), were two of my best friends, Betsy Tejeda and Hailey Rodriguez. Once I convinced myself that I was truly seeing them in my home, I burst into tears as they rushed in to hug me. God had known just what I needed in this moment, and I could not have been more thankful!

Three women standing together under a tree.

Betsy Tejeda, Crissy Bash, and Hailey Rodriguez are reunited.

Why were they in my house and not at home in Texas? Well, in June 2021, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t think anyone is ever prepared to receive a life-changing diagnosis, and I can tell you I surely was not on that day in June! As the months passed, while I was going through testing and preparing for surgery, I was falling deep into the grips of anxiety and was completely overwhelmed. I had shared this with Betsy and Hailey a few weeks earlier, and we all agreed that we wished we could be together. I knew it wasn’t possible at the time, so I moved ahead one day at a time, with no idea that they were planning a surprise trip to help me prep for surgery and to help carry my burdens.

During that visit, they loved our family so well. They made freezer meals. They brought decorations and cake for my daughter’s birthday. We laughed together, cried together, swam in the pool together. They showed up. I was in one of the worst storms in my life, and they physically showed up, despite the distance and all the other obstacles that my mind had told me were present just weeks before.

four men on a porch working with lumber on sawhorses

A team helps with a construction project.

Our friendship was formed through time shared in ministry over the course of many years. Ryan and I have been leading teams on short-term mission trips to McAllen, Texas, almost every year since 2010. Betsy is a missionary with World Gospel Mission in McAllen, and Hailey is a former short-term team member who moved to McAllen to serve there after being a part of our church and life in Ohio for many years prior to her move. Not only that, but we came to realize that we were placed in each other’s lives for a reason. I praise God for that gift! I don’t know that I could pinpoint exactly when Betsy and Hailey started to feel like family. But I do know that serving together during our week-long trips to the border, planting seeds of missions and service in the next generation of Jesus-followers together, is what brought us to that point.

Why did we go to McAllen in the first place? I’m convinced it was God at work. We didn’t have a connection to the place; Ryan had taken mission trips with WGM in the past and asked them where we could serve in the States. I remember Ryan asking, “Where don’t many people go?” They said, “McAllen.” We shrugged and said, “Sign us up!” So in 2010, that’s where we went.

A group of smiling adults standing behind children in school uniforms

The 2019 team to McAllen with students from TCS and WGM missionaries.

That first trip to the border, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t grow up with a missions background, and I was mainly going on this trip to support Ryan and to show my children what it means to serve all people—not just those in our community or church. It was his thing. I was there to help. But when we got to the ministry location, I realized what I had pictured—going out and helping the team with work projects—was very different than reality. I had a six-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter to take care of, and most of the time I stayed back with them while Ryan took the team out to serve. I expected to be lonely on that trip, but some of the missionaries had kids, too, and they were finding creative ways to involve them in serving. It turns out, I wasn’t lonely at all; in fact, it felt like I had found where I loved to go and could serve in unique ways that allowed us to serve as a family.

When he was a teenager, Ryan had gone on mission trips every other year with his youth pastor and had found such value in each trip. So when he became a pastor, that’s what he planned to do with his students (and eventually his congregation), too. When we were deciding where to take the team in 2012, we asked the congregation what was important to them when it came to missions. “Education and children,” they said. Those were two values that were present on our first trip to McAllen in WGM’s Texas/Mexico Border Ministries (TMBM), so we decided to return—this time during the school year, so we could meet the students and staff at Taylor Christian School (TCS). In 2013, we were supposed to stay home.

“You have no idea what it means to us when you come back every year. You come to see us, to work alongside us, to support us.”

However, we felt this ache starting to form for Texas and for our friends there. “Why not?” we asked. “Why can’t we go visit them?”

And so we did visit them, just our family, that year. We took a scheduled team the following year; then, in 2015, more members of the congregation decided they didn’t want to wait two years to go back, either. That’s when we agreed traveling to McAllen should be an annual event.

Why go every year? Why not serve in our local neighborhood and send money to McAllen instead? The thing is, we don’t have to choose. We can do both. And we’ve actually asked Betsy that same question. “Is there value in us coming?” we asked. “Wouldn’t you rather we just send money?”

“No way!” she answered. “You have no idea what it means to us when you come back every year. You come to see us, to work alongside us, to support us.”

We’re glad she feels that way, because missions has become such an integral part of our family makeup. It’s what we do. And it’s what other families at our church do, too. If they go once or twice, many quickly sense that they have to go back. They want to be part of what God is doing in Texas. They want to keep building relationships with the McAllen community and these missionaries. Our team members all feel like we’re raising up an awareness in our church about the importance of global missions. And while raising money is an important part of that, it doesn’t transform us in our thinking about missions on its own.

A smiling teen wearing a tiara and formal gown sitting with her parents and younger sister at a table decorated with the balloon numbers "15"

Cailynn with her parents and sister at her quinceañera.

Because missions has been such a priority for our family, we’ve watched our kids grow up on these trips. We pray their view of missions has been shaped as a result. Our oldest daughter, Cailynn, turned fifteen in 2021, and the missionaries surprised her with her own quinceañera during our McAllen trip that year. They went all out for the occasion, with Hailey leading a devotional and baking the cake. She and Betsy picked out three different dresses so Cailynn would be sure to fit into one of them. All the missionaries on the field contributed to make the evening something Cailynn and our family will never forget. Even though I knew about the surprise, I was still blown away by how they went above and beyond for our daughter. They showed her that investing in a place for as long as she can remember makes her family and that she is loved.

In so many ways, they’ve been telling us, “You’re family.” Just this past year alone, they showed it by including our daughter in a traditional rite of passage, celebrating how many times we’ve been there to serve, and showing up in our living room across the country during an incredibly difficult season of life. Betsy, Hailey, and the rest of the TMBM team have been showering us with the extravagant love that only Jesus Christ enables us to give. It has been humbling to be served by those we go to serve beside each year.

To anyone who is considering stepping out to serve, our advice is this: say yes. Even if you think you can’t do it, even if you don’t feel like doing it. We’ve seen so many people over the years saying yes to God. They find themselves doing things they thought they’d never be comfortable doing, and they love it. We’ve learned that the Lord gives you what you need if you just keep saying yes. And what starts off as scary eventually becomes exciting…and might just bless you with friends that become family along the way.

A group of missionaries, team members and children standing under a tree in a circle holding hands

A team gathers for prayer.


PRAY: Lift up the Bash family, their short-term team members, and the missionaries serving with TMBM. Ask God to continue working through their passion for missions to invite others into His plan for redemption. And pray about what role you might play in that plan, as well.

GIVE: Would you like to partner with what God is doing in McAllen? See a list of ongoing projects!

GO: If you’re interested in a short-term missions experience, we’d love to help equip you to go. Get more information about serving, wherever you feel called.

Author Bio: Crissy Bash and her husband, Ryan, currently serve with Brookside Church in Chillicothe, Ohio, where Ryan is the lead pastor. They have three wonderful children: Cameron, Cailynn, and Cooper.

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