Missions trips can be amazing experiences. For us, we spent a great amount of time relying on the Holy Spirit to give us opportunities and, once those opportunities arose, to give us the clear thoughts and clear speech–whether in a classroom, in conversations, or at our outdoor crusades. For us, we had a front row seat in seeing Him move. We were being of use to God, being used by God, but it seemed as if we were watching Him work, even as we worked. (Or something like that!)
But like missions trips and conferences that fire you up, don’t let missions trips make you sour on the church where you attend.
I’m thankful that God has taken me through these emotions and made me separate them out. Let me show you how:
- Missions trips have an entire focus on doing Kingdom work 24-hours a day, whereas our ‘real life’ has other lanes such as homelife, work, school, etc. With missions trips, you are away from home, work, school, etc. It’s not fair nor right to compare the two. Apples and oranges. Yet, let’s not forget that God has called us to be about Kingdom work in our home (Ephesians 5:22-6:4), work (Ephesians 6:5-9), and school. In many ways, all of life is a missions trip, where we are missionaries who are about making disciples!
- On the other hand, you can learn some valuable lessons in the meantime. Reliance on God, prayer regarding the unknown, prayer regarding the lost coming to Christ, digging in His Word for wisdom and guidance, seeing other ways people worship, stepping out and stretching yourself to share the gospel with others, praising God for any ‘wins’ you may have–these are transferrable principles in regards to Kingdom work. The need to get out of our box to see what is biblical and what is cultural has its benefits. It’s important to learn the difference.
- God is working in different ways, different speeds, and in different cultures–embrace each. In Trinidad and Tobago, the saints are more expressive in their worship than many in the States. Fine. Some outwardly praise, some inwardly process. Embrace both. The outward praise in Trinidad may be just as cultural as in the inward processing is here. Making judgments based on outward appearances is something that God expressly forbids: “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God has promised to work in His Son’s church, and Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:16-18).
Again, don’t let missions trips sour you on your church. It happens to many who go off to youth camps, conferences, and missions trips. Fight that! Embrace the beauty of the local church in which you serve, pray, and help save the lost and strengthen the saved (HT to John Roberts in Sterling, CO for that last line).