Written by Sarah Graefe
Every fall, opportunities are released for that year’s mission trips. Some are local, some are far away in places you’ve never heard of. Maybe you feel a wave of excitement about this. Maybe you feel a knot of fear and dread in your stomach. Maybe you start calculating the financial and mental cost. Or maybe you feel nothing at all.
So here’s my simple point: You should go on a Missions Trip. Yes, you! And here’s why:
Contribution: You Have Something to Offer
A mission trip can’t happen without a team. To be specific, a team of people committed to the same goal, working together to see the love of Jesus ministered in a particular area.
When I got up the nerve to go on my first international trip, I didn’t really believe I had anything to offer my team, much less the country we were going. I was a shy, awkward young person who hadn’t ever traveled for anyone but herself.
My team worked together to serve the people of Peru. Some of us acted in a silent drama. Some preached or shared a testimony. Some prayed for healing. Some interpreted. Together – with the Holy Spirit – we were a force for God’s glory. Had one of us been missing from the team, something would have been, well, missing.
Each of us has unique gifts, skills and personalities. When we come together with the goal of spreading the gospel, God does something powerful through us. But it takes each person being willing to humbly offer their talents to God first.
Are you skilled in construction or medicine? Do you enjoy solving problems? Are you creative or compassionate toward people of different backgrounds or a desire to feed the hungry? You have something to offer. Don’t think that a mission trip is for certain kinds of people, because God wants to use you to extend His love to the world.
Obedience: Missions are God’s Solution for the World
Right before Jesus left His disciples for heaven, He gave them an important charge:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
Yes, this is the “Sunday School answer:” we should go because Jesus tells us to go. This sounds simple, even though it surely triggers questions and concerns for each of us.
Being a witness for Jesus doesn’t always mean packing your bags and heading to World’s End, Sri Lanka (yes, it’s a real destination), but it could mean praying with a coworker on your lunch break, or finding a weekly place to serve right here in your church. These local opportunities are our “Jerusalem” – the place we call home.
God may also be calling you to take a bigger step – to travel and serve for a week with a church plant (“Judea and Samaria”) or to sign up for an SOS Festival trip in Africa (“the ends of the earth”). The important thing is that you take time to listen to the Holy Spirit, then take a step that will personally challenge your faith. Sometimes we have to be still and listen for whichever step it is He’s calling us to next.
I truly believe that when we step out of our comfort zone and into an obedient response to God’s Word, we are in fact becoming part of God’s solution for the world who doesn’t know Him.
Perspective: You Will Never See the World the Same Again
When I returned from my first international missions trip, the world looked different to me. I had a new appreciation for hot water and air conditioning, yes! And I was overwhelmed by the selection of bottled water in the grocery store. But I also began seeing need right in my own back yard that I had been happily unaware of beforehand.
I think God takes us into new territory to purposely realign our perspective. If we never see poverty, or touch the untouchable, or walk in places that might unsettle us, then we may never step into His dream for us. We may never see as He sees or discover ways to serve and heal the people around us – in our hometown or across the ocean.
When we read the gospels we see Jesus constantly active among the broken. By stepping out into the unfamiliar, we give God an opportunity to show us problems we may have never seen before. Having His perspective on the world’s condition can awaken within us a greater desire to help mend it.
Your next step in this adventure called Christianity could very well be going on a mission trip. We have a lot of opportunities this year for you to pray about. And if you have questions or concerns, I’d be more than happy to talk to you about it!
Sarah Graefe has a blast serving on staff at Allison Park Church as the Assistant Children’s Director at the Hampton Campus. She is a graduate of Northeast Ministry School. She loves traveling for leisure and for missions and enjoys reading, eating and kayaking in her spare time.