By Dustin Walker
I want you to do a quick mental exercise. I’d like you to imagine the following situations. As you do I want you to pay attention to the setting where your mind takes you.
- Families walking around trick-or-treating on Halloween
- A student sitting at a table working on calculus homework
- A college-aged guy talking about what next steps to take in education and career
- A wife sharing about problems in her marriage
So where did your mind take you in each scenario?
Your neighborhood? A kitchen table? A local coffee shop? With your community group?
These aren’t made up scenarios. They’ve actually happened. But not in Murfreesboro. I’ve encountered each of these scenarios while on short-term mission trips.
Mission is Ordinary: No Cape Required
We often glamorize mission, especially international mission, perhaps rightly so. But then we feel intimidated and tell ourselves we aren’t extraordinary enough to participate in it ourselves.
One objection you may have is that only super-Christians take international mission trips. And let’s face it you’re no super hero. You don’t even own a cape.
But the reason I use the scenarios above is to make you realize how normal some things can actually be while on a short-term mission trip.
Last year on Halloween I happened to be in Ayacucho, Peru where hundreds of families came to the town square to trick or treat. The very next night I sat with our missionary partner’s daughter at a kitchen table while I helped her review for a calculus exam. The other two situations mentioned above occurred in South Asia.
I use these scenarios to highlight how the call to mission is a call to give God the ordinary to do something extraordinary. Meeting people, encouraging others, sharing the gospel, and listening to people sharing their struggles should actually be the norm. As I read scripture it seems that God tends to use small, weak, and normal things to show how big, incredible, and strong he is.
You are Equipped... and are being equipped... for Mission
Another objection is believing you are under-equipped.
Your faith in Christ equips you for mission. In 2 Peter 1:3, the apostle reminds his readers that they have been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Knowing the forgiveness and grace of God in Christ is the foundation of your equipped-ness to pass along to others.
On the other hand you’ll definitely need to know some things. You’ll have a role on the team and be expected to contribute as a part of that team (Rom. 12:3-8). This means you’ll have some preparation to do and that’s where you’ll be more equipped. This will help you prepare for language and cultural barriers in addition to gaining biblical knowledge and experience in sharing your faith with others.
But What About Days Off and Money?
Yes. Time and money are realities. You cannot leave the country for a week or two without also asking off from work. Not only does it cost to go on a short-term trip it also means you are taken away from the job through which your income flows.
I cannot argue this. Plane tickets are costly and your vacation time is probably limited.
Yet, I would tell you that every time I speak with someone who has gone on a short-term trip they were glad they did. In fact, people normally tell me how they want to do it again. I can also say with confidence that God can sufficiently provide for you in many ways (Phil 4:19).
So what about you? Are you interested in being part of one of our short-term mission trips in 2018? If so, I hope to see you at our upcoming Mission Meeting on Sunday, November 12.
My prayer is that you submit your ordinary-ness and give it to the Lord as you join one of our teams in 2018.