Go Experience. Go for Good.

Many of us who have worked in cross-cultural missions or even stateside work have struggled with the influx of volunteers who come to help out for a week or more. It’s not like we didn’t invite them, because in most cases we did. We needed help and were thrilled when a church or organization were able to send a group over. The problem for the folks on the field is that hosting volunteers is a lot of work, and inevitably someone doesn’t like the food, can’t handle the stress of the assigned task, has an accident, or gets sick.

And yet, we’re always blessed by those who visit.

I remember a group of volunteers who came out multiple times to our place of service. From that first visit, we became lifelong friends, depended on them for prayer, received both physical and financial support from them, and saw God at work in their lives, the lives of those they served, and ourselves. Any inconveniences we endured where worth the reward.

That relationship in service gave us many opportunities to visit their church as well, staying in their homes, and corresponding with them over the years. We saw the effect of those short-term trips in their individual and corporate lives.

Learning to “swim” in missions leads to later jumps into the deep end.

My own journey in missions was much like learning to swim.

·         I got my feet wet when my parents hosted international students in our home when I was a child—introducing me to people from other ethnic groups and countries.

·         I took my first mission “swimming” lessons in my home church, helping with a new ministry to Laotian immigrants in the 1980s.

·         I advanced to intermediate lessons and getting into the deep end of the missions pool when I spent two years in Ivory Coast, West Africa, after college.

·         I jumped off the cliff into ocean waters of missions when I left with my husband for the Middle East, where we lived and served for twenty years.

Because of my experience, which began with missions’ teaching in my home church, I never want to discourage young people or church groups from participating in short-term trips. Any opportunity to serve in the name of Christ, helps a believer to think and look beyond self and opens their eyes to what God is doing in their city, state, country, or world.

We need to be encouraging missions engagement more than ever.

The internet and social media may seem to be opening people’s eyes to the world, but in reality, it’s causing young people to become more isolated and insolated in the world of their choosing. It’s only when we turn off our phones and open our eyes to the people beyond our circle of influence that we see the needs we cannot ignore.

People are lost and dying every moment of every day without someone to share the good news of Jesus Christ, while Christians in the West are inwardly focused and consumed with whatever their digital feed tells them is important in the current news cycle. It’s time to wake up the church to the urgency of the task. Only when people have a taste of what God is about in our world will they be motivated to be engaged in long-term commitment to the Great Commission.

We, as current and veteran missionaries, must put aside our feelings of inconvenience to encourage a new generation of believers to get involved. A week’s visit may seem insignificant to the cause of Christ, but it plants seeds that bring an eternal investment and harvest to his glory.

Do not despise the things of small beginnings.

When the Kingdom is the cause, no seed planted is insignificant. Wet feet now bring full commitment in his timing and for his purposes.

Grace and Peace

2 thoughts on “Go Experience. Go for Good.

  1. I suppose I got my feet wet when I taught ESOL classes. At the age of 88, those days are long gone, but at the time I found the hearts of people of other countries were much aligned with mine. We came from different religious backgrounds, but we all wanted peace for ourselves, our families, and our countries. That longing for peace is a great bridge toward spreading the gospel.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Becky. The longing for peace is a universal desire and perfect bridge to conversation about the source of all peace, Jesus, Prince of Peace. Know you planted seeds of peace!

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