Whether it’s for a week or a lifetime, our church is passionate about sending people to serve globally. Each year, we want to see at least a tenth of our members go on a short-term mission trip.
But think for a moment about how ineffective short-term trips seem. I mean just imagine a group of people from another country showing up to serve you. When you first meet them, their eyes are glazed from jet lag and they can’t even speak your language. You’ll need to be patient to educate them about your culture and customs and gracious when they ignorantly do something taboo. Oh, and they’ll only be here for a few days. Feels more like a bother than a blessing.
So why do we still go?
The answer: because of who God is. God’s ways are not our ways, and what seems impossible with man is possible with God. In fact, God loves to display his greatness through our weakness. Here are three specific characteristics of God that make short-term trips useful in his global mission.
1. God Is Active
When you go on a mission trip, you are not alone. God has already begun working in the lives of the people you are going to, and he will continue working after you leave. Here’s just one example shared by Pastor David Platt from a missionary supported through our generosity and partnership with like-minded churches:
One of our missionaries was with his national partner named Ahmad. It looked like it was about to rain, and Ahmad asked our missionary if he could borrow an old shirt to wear as he rode his motorcycle because he didn’t want to get his new jacket wet. Our missionary handed him a big white T-shirt.
Later that day, Ahmad was wearing that white shirt when it started raining. He pulled his motorcycle over under an awning. The owners of a nearby house came out, and as is their custom, invited him in for tea.
He went in, and over tea, Ahmad thought, “I might as well share the gospel.” Then he asked the couple, “Do you want to believe and be baptized?”
Without any hesitation, the couple said, “Yes!”
“Do you understand what you’re doing? That you will probably be shunned by your family for this, or even worse?” Ahmad asked.
The man said, “You don’t understand. I’ve had several dreams over the last three nights, and in each dream, a man wearing white told me he had the way to salvation for my family and me. Last night, that man appeared to me again and told me a man dressed in white would come to my home the next day and share the way of salvation. When we saw you standing outside, we knew we needed to invite you in and hear whatever you had to say to us.”[i]
God is active because he is more committed to this work than you or I will ever dare to be.
2. God Is in Control
Nothing surprises God, and nothing can stand against him. Jesus has been given all authority in both heaven and earth, and he sends us into every nation under his authority (Matthew 28:18-20).
God can arrange events and circumstances and thoughts in people’s lives so that they are eager to hear the gospel. It’s like he’s gathering the kindling and a short-term trip is the small spark God uses to set ablaze a great fire.
3. God Is a Multiplier
Through one boy who was willing to give all the lunch he had, Jesus fed the masses. He can use your limited efforts and do far more abundantly that you can imagine.
On my very first international mission trip, I had one, single conversation with a man that has forever since changed my perspective and thinking. I had never seen him before the trip. I’ve never seen him since. Our conversation lasted less than an hour, and yet it’s marked me for the rest of my life.
Don’t underestimate what God can do in you and through you when you make yourself available to him. We will never send a team to a place where God is not already active, in control, and willing to multiply our scant efforts.
Are you ready to join him?
Learn more about the opportunities for you to go on a week-long trip here.
-Bryan (Missions Director)