Don’t Let Missions Trips Do This to You

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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).


Trinidad, Day Two: Leaders Conference and Being Carried by Your Prayers

I stayed up too late reading last night.

I take that back, I stayed up until midnight Trinidad time (but still 9:00 pm Denver time) finishing Michael Shaara’s book Killer Angels, the second in the Civil War Trilogy by both Jeff and Michael Shaara from where the movies Gettysburg and Gods and Generals were based. Why was I reading these on a missions trip? The same reason why, when I had my Junior Recital at Palm Beach Atlantic University which was a culmination of every piano piece I had learned and was a huge part of my all-around piece for graduating, that I didn’t touch a piano the previous two days. Sometimes, thinking too much about what’s next is… too much. So, reading a book about the Civil War of all things seemed to help take the edge off.

Why would I have an edge? Today, we would be with pastors, deacons, and leaders in the area churches to talk about the family life of a Christian leader. Pastors are under great pressure to have a model family life–solid marriage, kids who are under control and follow Jesus, etc., etc. Pastors feel that pressure, the pastor’s wives feel that pressure, and the children most definitely feel that pressure.

On top of this, every person goes into marriage with their own brokenness. But God, through the gospel of Jesus, can and will restore us to His design and purpose. I prepared a bunch of notes, but it was as if God was taking me in a new and different direction to the same end: we must die to self, die in Christ, and submit to our spouses in the roles God has for us (Ephesians 5:21-6:4).

Ken and Dana broke up and led in prayer with a group, along with other pastors who helped in this breakout.

Every person received a copy of The Family Life of a Christian Leader by Ajith Fernando, the best book on the subject I’ve read. I pray that this will help them move forward.

Tomorrow is the dedication of the building here at Mt. Beulah Church in Point Fortin. They have redone the inside, added A/C units, and it looks absolutely beautiful. It’ll be cool enough that I can wear a suit for this august occasion. And bowtie!

Oh, did I mention going to the beach? I hesitated because Denver is expecting 3-6″ of much-needed snow. But for five minutes, I was out on the beach.

That face is due to sand and then rain. No, as the beard might indicate, I was not marooned and I do not need a volleyball named Wilson (Raye Ann!).

Trinidad, Day One: Being with Extended Family

After a good night’s sleep and a nice breakfast, Ken, Dana, Roddie Taylor (the pastor of the church that heads up the missions work here), and I drove over to St. Mary’s to meet with the principal of the Fifth Company Primary School. The goal was to get a gameplan together to come into some of the classrooms and share about who we are (including who Jesus and the gospel are) along with some cultural exchange (in all likelihood, baseball).

As we were waiting for him, some children came up to us–why?–because they remembered Dana and myself from last September. While I understand that few Caucasians cross their paths and that helped distinguish us, they were so excited when they found out we would be at the school next week. Then we commenced in the universal language of the ‘high-five’ (about 25-30 of them in all) before we went in to talk with the Vice Principal.

Road problems and construction were at Olympian levels due to the heavy rains over the past few months. As a result, it took us extra long to make to St. Mary’s, making us opt for another way back. We were treated to some beautiful Trinidadian countryside filled with a lot of trees (palms and otherwise) and green, two commodities very scarce in Colorado.

We arrived back at Mt. Beulah Church in Point Fortin and were met with some long faces. In the process of installing some nice wall units that would provide air conditioning in the sanctuary, they encountered some electrical problems that, as I write this at 10:55 pm AST (Atlantic Standard Time), they are still working on this to get the church ready for their building dedication on Sunday.

[Which reminds me: Roddie told me something that brought me to tears. He says that when he announces that I am bringing a team to Trinidad to help the cause of Christ there, the congregation cheers. I told him that I don’t understand that, but we are happy to help. Then, he said this:

“Matthew Perry, you are a member of Mt. Beulah Evangelical Baptist Church.” That did it. My eyes welled up as I read that. To know that there is such a mutual love between us makes these last 23 years of connecting with the people of Trinidad like being with my extended family.]

The countryside, the reunion with friends, the colleagues who have joined me–I cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring. But know this: my heart is full, my body is healthy, and I know I’m in God’s hands.

Jesus is enough.

Valuing and Treasuring Guests Who Visit Your Church

I know, some will find this sad that we have to help churches filled with people who have been rescued by Jesus be more welcoming to guests. But like anything, we can fall into habits without realizing it. Many want to be welcoming, but don’t understand how. May God help us in our churches to value and treasure with hope and joy guests that come to our worship gatherings.

Thank you, Hershael York, for helping us out.

On-Mission to Trinidad Next Week

cropped-cropped-20160926_0843451.jpgWe’ve been quite here on the Lead With Joy front. Between Christmas activities and illnesses, it’s made it tough to get posts out.

But we’re back.

On Thursday, January 18, three of us from Arapahoe Road Baptist Church will head on-mission to Trinidad and Tobago next week with the following missions:

  1. Meeting with local leaders to discuss the family life of a Christian leader;
  2. Be a part of a dedication service at Mt. Beulah Evangelical Baptist Church in Point Fortin;
  3. Meeting in elementary, middle, and high schools in the area to share with them about our country and about our citizenship in Christ (using the #3Circles Life Conversation Guide).
  4. Discipling a core group of believers in St. Mary’s to help them learn how to share the gospel (3 Circles) and disciple (using One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm).
  5. Tent preaching in the evenings.

Pray for us in the following ways:

  1. That we would be ready at a moment’s notice to share our hope in Jesus.
  2. That the seeds planted in the public schools would reap an eternal harvest.
  3. That we provide simple but effective tools for the core group to help gain traction for a thriving church in a tough area.
  4. That we would encourage the believers in the established churches through our prayer, the Word, and love.
  5. That we would help Christian leaders not separate home life from church life.
  6. For safe travel to and from my home way from home, Trinidad and Tobago.
  7. For the families we leave behind for those nine days.

Keep tabs here or watch on my page for videos we will post.  God has opened some major doors that we’ve never had opened before. Please pray for more opportunities and for a readiness to share the hope we have in Jesus.