That was a cool mission trip! Now, what? After going to a few short-term mission trips, I can’t say that I am an expert at keeping the “mission-minded daily living” thing going. However, I know what I SHOULD do in order to keep the passion for Jesus I had during the mission trip still alive in my heart even when I get back to my comfortable house.
1. Write about my mission trip.
Writing about it helped me process and recall exactly what God did during the trip. I have learned that during my low moments, my written accounts of what happened, what God did, what God told me, and what I was able to do became sources of hope and encouragement to me. You can say that the “Past Graces” given was able to remind me of God’s faithfulness in the future.
2. Update my friends and family about it (via writing or speaking).
In the first mission trips, it was easy for me to just say: “It was fun and good. I lost weight, got mosquito bites, got dark, found out I actually don’t know much Spanish, etc.” But I found that these are just cover-ups and very shallow. Those things neither made the conversation meaningful nor encourage others to go on a mission trip. I found that when I talked about how God moved my heart, provided, and answered prayers, people’s faces lit up and said (literally) “God is so good”.
3. Keep praying over the people I met.
I always met new people during the mission trips. They were either the interpreters, the missionaries who live there, or people who were willing to help us. They were almost always on Facebook so I gain foreign/new friends after every mission trip. One thing that I found that helped me love them even from a distance is to pray for them. I may not be able to speak to them in the same language but God knows what they need and can move my heart to pray for those needs.
4. Keep praying over my heart.
“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but the sin that dwells within me. I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” Romans 7:19-23.
Oftentimes, distractions and sins keep us from living the Great Commission. Short-term/Long-term/a lifetime of missions cannot be done solely by our own will and strength. As stated in the verses above, our hearts and minds can be prone to wander. And in the Old Testament, we can see the Israelites forgetting what God has done for them and what God promises them. I have learned that I have to constantly fight for the faith that I have and ask God to bind my wandering heart to Him. For during the times that my heart is wandering, He is my strength and my shield.
These are just a few ways I have found helpful in making the mission trip “count” towards maturing in my faith. They are all conscious decisions I have made in order to fight my laziness and complacency. Finally, these things can be done even after a Winter/Summer Retreat or Revival you went to. God can move powerfully during those times but what good would it be if we don’t share the goodness, remember them, and mature in our faith? Let’s not stay as Baby Christians! Let’s do our part in remembering what God has done and what God promises:
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6