Since 2002, I have been involved with mission trips either as a mission-goer or as a host of mission teams. If you have been or ever considered going on a mission trip, you probably know how intimidating it can be especially during the preparation period. The thoughts of mission trips put us in a continuous state of nervous uncertainties and sometimes make us feel stressed. The fear and stress is caused partly by the fact that we are often called to go to places that we do not know much about. The questioning state of mind can potentially lead to skepticism. How good are these mission trips and what difference do they make? Is it worth the money, time and energy put into it? I am the right person or I am ready and equipped to make any difference? It is totally legitimate to ask questions if you are seriously considering a mission trip. Unfortunately (or fortunately) some answers may not come until you actually go (or even long after you come back)!
Mission trips give us such a unique personal experience that cannot be grasped from great stories we may hear from those who have gone to missions before us. Additionally, any good answers to the questions you may have will always leave a void that can only be filled by your own experience. Each experience is unique and personal. As someone who has been on few mission trips, I consider each and everyone of my trips to be a unique, vital part of my Christian walk and fellowship with God. In other words, God has used the mission trips to not only change my life but also to reveal himself to me in ways that I could never have anticipated.
Yes, mission trips are great but….there is always a “but”! In my experience, I have learned that all good things and noble causes come with two opportunities: One is to do it right (hopefully) and another is to get it completely wrong(unfortunately). Mission trips are not immune to this reality. Despite our good intentions, we can still get it wrong and cause more harm than we do “good” if we do not surrender our agenda and ourselves to the one who calls us to go –God.
Our agenda is only short-term, just like we call it: it’s a “short-term” mission trip. I am convinced that even though we plan for a “short-term” mission, God is thinking about “long-term” relationships. I have seen this in my own experience or in others with whom I got the pleasure to serve in missions. When you look back few years after your first “short-term” mission trip, you realize that there was nothing short about it; of course if you allow God to take the lead. Many people that I know have gone back many more times or God has expended their mission calling to other places. Others got involved in ways they could never have planned on their first mission trip. Basically, a mission trip can be a game-changer in your life. It does not leave you the same person you were before it. And it keeps getting better and better!
I don’t claim any authority or expertise to give a lecture about missions but I thought I would share few things, which I have so far learned through observations and active participation. Everything considered, in my experience, missions should not make us feel intimidated or burdened as if we are being punished by God. We should only feel honored and privileged that He is asking us to take part in what he is doing outside of our comfortable social circles. As I share few learned lessons, I will put on two hats: First as a mission trip-goer (part 1) and second as a host of a mission team (part 2)
These are 4 points that I want to explore in this section (part 1):