This past week I traveled with 18 Americans to a part of rural Guatemala that I’ve visited seven times in 11 years. Our multi-generational team from Florida included a college professor, a lawyer, a salesman, a private school teacher, several teens and a 31-year-old veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Only one of our team members could speak Spanish fluently and a few had never been out of the United States before.
The climate was hot, the food was strange and communication was a challenge. But the inconveniences didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. The people on our team dug a foundation for a church building, prayed for people at the conclusion of many services, played soccer with local youth, hugged lots of kids, performed dramas, visited local families in their homes and made lifelong friends.
Not everyone can pack up all their belongings and become career missionaries, but many of us can go on short-term mission trips. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to consider these benefits of taking the compassion of Jesus to another culture:
1. You will encounter God’s heart. Our God is big and He cares about the nations. He’s a global God. And His ultimate goal is to gather a family that represents “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). When you step into a foreign mission field, you will sense God’s amazing compassion for another culture and you will begin to know Him as Lord of the harvest.
2… (Click here to jump on over to Charisma Magazine)
The list for what not to do is fairly long, however Relevant magazine have some awesome tips on short term trips. ‘One of the main tips is to do things with people, not for people… And that should be the motto, always’.
Long Bay Baptist team did an awesome job at including locals in everything they did. Here they are below enjoying loading up sand from the beach – although for some reason this particular pickup took five times the usual amount of time!
Read more tips from the article ‘Things No One Tells You About Short Term Mission Trips’ at Relevant magazine.
Many drivers have to weigh up whether to build a race car from scratch, or buy one already done.
There are positives & negatives to both.
An already built car is often a less time consuming option, and doesn’t cost you as much. But you don’t always know everything that makes up the car you’re racing, if corners have been cut for quality, or what exactly that extra switch under the dashboard does.
Building a car takes for ever (it feels), long drawn out nights working on getting the body straight, welding the roll cage, fitting the suspension & brakes. But you get a car you have invested your soul into, you know every nut & bolt, one you know will keep you safe if you crash.
I’ve noticed some people have faith like these options. Some folks go to church because their parents did, or its a good thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday. Or they like the idea of going to Heaven, but haven’t done much else about it.
That kind of faith is a bit like spraying a quick bit of paint over an old shell, fitting some big wheels and a shiny muffler that makes lots of noise. You may look the part, and people like the look & sound of you, but when it comes to the crunch, there’s nothing in the build quality of your faith, to keep you together.
Some people have faith based on their experience getting to know the package from the ground up. Knowing Jesus for who he really is, and taking the time to assemble the nuts & bolts of having a relationship with God, makes all the difference.
When you’re out on the track and hit a wet patch, or you mis-judge a corner and run into the sand trap, or some-one else gives you a tap mid-apex & you hit the wall hard, that is when you notice the difference between a ‘shiny-on-the-outside-faith’, and a ‘solid-8-point-roll-caged’ Jesus.
So I would encourage everyone, take the time, get to know Him. Don’t just go through the motions… you’ll only fall apart when you least expect it.
We loved this cool video made by Luke Jarrett, who has just got home from a mission trip to Vanuatu with his team from Narrabeen Baptist, Australia. These guys built a water tank and worked with kids and people in a small community in Teouma, Efate – making a huge impact on lives there.
How has this outreach influenced your view of missions?
“Before I came on this trip I didn’t really believe that short term missions could make a difference. Now I know that even that the smallest gesture can mean the world to someone. I definitely want to do more mission work.”