God loves me no matter what and there is NO condemnation for me. None. Ever.) The second is easy - my mission trips these past two years. Most of you know I was part of a medical mission (through Seacoast Church and partnered with Pioneers International) to Togo, West Africa. In addition to medical clinics, this trip placed an emphasis on evangelism to these patients. This made all the difference.
When talking about mission trips, many people have one of the following comments; however, I believe these ways of thinking are all wrong. If one of these is you, I beg you to reconsider.
1) "that is not my gift" - A short term mission is not about a spiritual gift. Yes, there are some who are called to be full time missionaries around the world. That does require a calling and a special gift. Short term though...It is really A GIFT THAT GOD GIVES TO YOU. You get as much, if not more out of it as the people you are going to serve. The 2010 trip was a true and amazing experience. The 2011 trip was where the fun began; I started seeing so many mighty works that God was doing all around me. This is where I learned what it was like to release control of all my plans and conveniences, as well as, live moment by moment for Him. You have to be taken out of your comfort zone to experience this. It is amazing when you get a taste of what is really going on. We can't see it (the unseen world) here in America because of all the busyness and distractions. Jesus Calling, June 15th says it well, "The curse of this age is over stimulation of the senses (busyness, technology, power for more, material things), which blocks out awareness of the unseen world... The goal is to be aware of the unseen things as you live out your life in the visible world." Now that I've seen it so clearly and abundantly in Africa, I know that the same thing is happening in America. I just have to stop and open my eyes to see it.
2) "Why go over seas, there's plenty of mission work to do here?" - This excuse I didn't quite get until recently. Before my mission trips, I wasn't very mission oriented... It was all about me. Going on a trip made me more mission-minded. More importantly, God used my experiences in Africa to mold a ministry opportunity just right for me here in America. I had a lot of growing to do. He had to take me out of "my world" to stretch me! Now, I'm sharing my story via the Internet as well as creating a bible study at my church. A mission trip is more than travel, more than service... It's all about what you experience and what you do with it when you return home.
3) "I could never go on a mission trip." - There will ALWAYS be a reason why you shouldn't or can't go on a mission trip. For most, I believe these reasons are Satan's way of keeping you right where you are spiritually and not experiencing all God has for you. Don't limit God and what He can do in your life. Anything is possible and a lot of times you cannot see it until you step out of your world. This last trip (November 2011), I almost didn't go because I just didn't know how I could work out childcare for my kids (24/7 since I was homeschooling). I took a step of faith and trusted that just as God provides the financial support, he would provide someone to watch over my kids... And like always...He came through. It scares me to think how much I would've missed out on if I would have allowed that doubt to take away such a gift! If I have learned anything from this, it is that if there is any part of you, even the tiniest part, that wants to experience this... take that step of faith and just do it!!!
Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom Shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
What about you??? Any desire to go...even the slightest???
So what's holding you back?
1) Time off of work? Is it hard to give up that vacation time for "more work"? Matthew 11:28-30; Matthew 6:19-21
2) Raising the support to go? Philippians 4:19
3) Leaving your children? Because I went, now my children know about mission and the hardships for children in Africa. It is one of the best things I could have done for them Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Proverbs 22:6
4) Fear of the unknown? Do you believe your life is in God's hands? Your days are already determined. This decision will not change that. Proverbs 3:5-6; Luke 12:7
A few impactful quotes I found
The mark of a great church is not seating capacity, but its sending capacity." - Mike Stachura
Answering a student's question, 'Will the heathen who have not heard the Gospel be saved?' thus, 'It is more a question with me whether we who have the Gospel and fail to give to to those who have not, can be saved." - C.H. Spurgeon
It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home." - Hudson Taylor
We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the First. - Oswald J. Smith
I've become aware that not all mission trips are like my experience in Togo. I know I may be a little biased, but it's true, not all have such an evangelistic emphasis... One that will take you to the next level. When looking, be aware of this and ask questions. Find out what opportunities your church is involved in.Talk to others who have been on the trip. And most importantly, pray about it. (Here's a link Seacoast Opportunities http://www.seacoast.org/longpoint/missions/global/).