Mission trips are a growing phenomenon in many evangelical churches, and for good reaon. The reason is to take the gospel to the world. Every congregation has that responsibility and those that accept it move to a new level of vision and purpose.
But there’s another dimension to mission trips that’s less visible. When you put people together on a small team for a week or so and interrupt their normal routines of life by sending them to the front lines of ministry in an unfamiliar country, many of them discover a new passion for the gospel. It’s a common experience for mission trips to serve as the catalyst for personal spiritual renewal.
I think that’s been the case for the guys in my team on this trip. We spent the three months leading up to the trip in an intentional discipling journey, studying a spiritual book together, getting to know each other and sharing in some first steps of ministry together. This trip has been the capstone of what we’d already been doing. These guys are in a different place in their faith today than they were in a few months ago. I expect their new spiritual vitality will have ripple effects though the wider congregation.
Here’s our team at a home restaurant, run by two little old ladies in a small village outside the city we’ve been staying in. Like so many here, their people group (Muslim) emigrated here a few years ago and our partners are trying to minister the gospel to them.
That’s one thing nobody told you about mission trips. There are more, less serious but no less important, at least on a practical level.
–You can live for a week without a cell phone, Internet, Facebook, television or email. Really.
–Personal hygiene has many more shades of meaning than you think it does.
–Walking long distances won’t kill you. You may grow to like it.
–Don’t get in a hurry. Flight schedules can and do change without notice. This isn’t a business trip so leave your obsessive need for precise scheduling behind.
–Metamucil is your friend. Trust me on this.
–Question: How many days in a row can you wear the same pair of Carhartt jeans? Answer: More than you thought.
–You can’t carry too many snack bars. There will be many times you want to eat the food set in front of you but you know if you do you’ll regret it for a long, long time.
–When your team attempts to teach an Iranian brother the Country song, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” as a cultural exchange exercise, just go with it.
–Be careful when you go to a drug store in a strange country to buy medicine for an upset stomach. You may walk out with medicine for a female medical condition that men don’t want to talk about much less take medicine for, exposing you to redicule from team members you thought were your brothers in Christ.