If you are like me you get excited about the idea of packing up and boarding a plane to encounter strange new places and people in the service of God.
There is nothing like the sense of connection one receives from serving abroad and nothing quite like the rewards of making friends in far away places as well as the opportunity to discover how close we all really are, and how God ultimately bridges all the gaps.
These trips are filled with wonder, excitement, nervousness, and even fear as one lets go and trusts that God will not only take over, but He will keep them safe and transform hearts. It’s a strange mixture of emotions that can make us giddy and nauseated all in the same moment. Kind of like a wedding, but without the bouquet toss.
The hope is that when it’s all over and we have said our goodbyes, hugged it out, and shed a few tears, we will go home and if all goes right, two important things having happened.
First, we hope that through our time in these foreign lands, others will be blessed. A huge point of most mission trips is to go, and to do. This is the part of Mathew 28 we all really want to get. That part where Christ says, “Therefore GO, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” We take a leap of faith and hope that through our sacrifice and commitment, others will be blessed; that they will somehow see our Savior in us and be transformed. Whether through children’s ministry, construction trips, medical trips or something altogether different, lives will be changed and discipleship will have occurred. We may not baptize anyone, but with God’s grace those who we served alongside, and those who we served will have seen a glimpse of the kingdom and be moved either toward that life changing decision to follow Christ, or to reconnect with Him through a rekindled sense of hope.
The second is perhaps even more important. Our hope is that those who saved the money for and spent hours raising funds to take the trip, will themselves come home transformed. It is this transformation that will truly shape the church. When we go to the field, the real work that takes place is what God does within us. He opens our eyes not just to the plight of others in our world, but to the plights of our neighbors as He shifts our life’s focus from self-centered to Christ-centered. It is here that Paul wrote about in Romans 12:2-3 when he said “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Christ calls us to be transformed. This happens by both reading the Scriptures and by acting in faith. Sometimes we get stuck. We get caught by the monotony of life or sometimes by the cacophony of noises that the world uses to distract us. We lose sight of the goal, the prize for which we are called heavenward. Mission trips allow us to refocus our eyes and our hearts thereby transforming our minds and setting our hands into motion for the betterment of all those around us.
Then when we return home, our passion has been reignited. Our eyes see more clearly and our hearts blaze as we see and seek to serve those God has placed before us. We return from a Mission trip better able to see Christ in the little places we couldn’t before see, and we are now able to do something about what we see as we bring comfort to the grieving, hope to the hopeless and love to the lonely. We come back with a new desire to meet the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of others in our own community for the kingdom, and perhaps the process will even grow the small corner that we call the Brethren.
If you are looking for an adventure and one way to rekindle your faith, your sense of purpose, or just need to clear your eyes so you can see the needs around you better, I truly recommend a mission trip. However do not take such a journey lightly as it will stretch, challenge, and transform you in ways you might not realize.
The Global Partners Team is always available to help those who wish to take such a journey. Whether serving a Brethren Global Partner in one of our amazing churches around the world or through other organizations, let us help you and your church find the perfect way to begin so that you too can experience the transformation that comes "as we go".