August 16, 2016
By Matt Morrison
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to make my first of two trips to Germany this year. While I head back over in October as a mission trip participant, I got the rare chance to direct filming of our work with refugees in the country. It’s been just under two years since my last trip overseas and while I was excited to fly out, I also felt incredible rusty. In fact, to be honest, I was nowhere near spiritually prepared.
In the weeks before, I was so busy putting together final details, packing, and wrapping things up in the office that I failed to really consider the spiritual magnitude of what is happening in Germany. Over a million refugees have poured into the country. Dozens of unreached people groups have now settled in this country where we can freely serve them. It’s the front lines of the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II and one of the greatest ministry opportunities in a generation.
But as my plane crawled across the Atlantic that first night, I knew I wasn’t ready. I was spiritually out of shape and unprepared. We’ve all fallen into this spiritual state at one point or another. When it comes to overseas mission trips, we understand the importance of prayer and abiding in Christ. We sense that need to ramp up and brace ourselves for spiritual warfare, physical exhaustion, and some amazing times of ministry.
But as I found myself in fields of refugees throwing frisbees, enjoying picnics with our team, and encountering Christianity for the first time, the realization that these moments are too rare in my life hit me like a ton of bricks. Why do I have to travel 6,000 miles away to live this intentionally for Christ? Why did I even have to get spiritually prepared? Why wouldn’t I always be in this mindset?
MISSIONS IN THE MIDST OF CHAOS
We get so excited about throwing on a backpack, dusting off the passport, and venturing into the far reaching corners of the mission field. But our lives on mission trips should never be the exception. They should be the norm. In an ideal world, international mission trips should be an extension of what we’re already doing at home with our neighbors, coworkers, and friends.
After serving in northern Romania a few years earlier, I described the country as my “life on the side.” Being in that environment, thousands of miles from home and away from its pressures, a part of me came alive that I didn’t even know existed within my heart. I felt closer to Christ than usual and right in the center of his will. In fact, as excited as I was to see my family when it was over, I cringed the first time I heard a Texas accent on the flight home. I wasn’t ready to go back into a world so disconnected from what I had just experienced.
Mission trips are almost like ministry training wheels. They provide an opportunity to break away from distractions, pressures, and stresses that clutter our lives. They afford us a few days or weeks where our sole purpose of waking up is to serve others with the Gospel. But that doesn’t mean the mission ends when we clear customs after the long flight home.
When my son was born, my wife and I had two weeks away from work where we spent every waking moment caring for our newborn baby. As any parent would testify, those weeks were critical for us. We didn’t know what we were doing and hitting the pause button allowed us to learn new skills, understand his needs, and bond with him. But when we got back to work and jumped into daily life, our son didn’t become a lesser priority. In fact, he takes priority over almost anything else we face. When the chaos of life picked up, we learned to love and care for him in the midst of it all.
Jesus’ command in his Sermon on the Mount is clear. “Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).” He isn’t telling his followers to neglect every other priority. Instead, he calls on us to make his Kingdom the top priority over all else. It’s a challenge to minister in the midst of our daily chaos.
As I head back over to Germany in October, I’m determined not to be caught spiritually asleep this time. I don’t want this experience to be a rare exception to my daily life. I want to continually minister and disciple others in the midst of my chaos. While this may seem challenging, it’s much simpler than we make it out to be. If you’re looking for ways to be more intentional, here are some practical tips:
- Begin with yourself. Jesus says he is the vine and we are the branches. If we want to grow and bear fruit, we must abide in him. Invest in intentional prayer and Bible study. Make it a daily habit. Go further and become an active member of your local church where you can be encouraged and held accountable.
- Make your home your first ministry. If you’re married, your spouse is your first ministry. If you have children, they come next. Prioritize your time with them. Determine to disciple them every day. Show Christ in your relationship with them and invest in their spiritual growth.
- Learn how to share the Gospel in a practical, relational, non-awkward way. e3 Partners builds this into the training on every trip so if you’ve ever gone overseas with us then you’re ahead of the game.
- Go out of your way to build relationships with nonbelievers. If you’re not around non-Christians enough, hang out regularly at a local coffee house or get to know others at your gym. Get involved in local ministry with your church outside the walls of the building. The more uncomfortable you feel, the better!
- Get to know your coworkers on a deeper level where they feel they can trust you. This will provide opportunities to pray with them, speak into their lives, and make a difference.
Whether you’re just returning from your last mission trip or beginning to pray about the next one, don’t miss the spiritual significance of what you’re doing and actively look for ways to continue the ministry in the midst of your daily chaos.