September 25, 2015
You know the feeling. You’ve just wrapped up an incredible week of short-term mission work overseas and now you’re packing to head home. After spending your entire time serving others and sharing the Gospel, you’re thinking to yourself, “How can I keep this going?”
Truthfully, there’s nothing short-term about missions. Your trip may have only lasted a week or two but missions is a lifestyle, whether you’re doing it in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia or Albany, New York. Mission trips are meant to inspire a new outlook on life that sees opportunities to serve all over the place. So how do you take a week-long adventure and make it a lifelong endeavor?
1. Be intentional.
Mission trips are like spiritual training wheels. They remove distractions so you can focus solely on your calling as a Christian. You get to wake up every morning and pray with fellow believers, serve the needs of people in another part of the world, and openly share the Gospel with those who have likely never heard it. But those same practices can and should continue when you arrive home. When you get back into your normal routine, maintain that same intentionality. Find out where you can serve the poor in your own city. Look for ways to build relationships with nonbelievers. This might involve spending more time at your local coffee house or engaging your co-workers in more intentional conversations about faith. Keep your eyes open to use the same skills you learned on your mission trip in your everyday life.
2. Get on your knees.
If you really want to make an impact in the world around you, start with the simple but powerful prayer, “Lord, let my heart break for the things that break yours.” Pray for open eyes and a humble heart. Ask God for opportunities to make a difference in the lives around you. Pray for these things often. You’ll be amazed by what God does next.
3. Kiss your comfort zone goodbye.
As western Christians, we have the tendency to live in a spiritual bubble that isolates us from the physical and spiritual condition of others around us. Unfortunately, you can’t fully embrace God’s mission for your life from this bubble. Like you did on your mission trip, you have to break out of your comfort zone over and over again. As you make it a common practice, you’ll find a new kind of adventure waiting in your own backyard. You’ll likely sacrifice some things in your life but it’s well worth it.
4. Desegregate your life.
We often segregate our lives into two buckets: the sacred and the secular. We view some areas of our lives as set aside for Christ and others as irrelevant to him. In reality, he is the Lord of your entire life. He has given you talents, vocational skills, and passions that can be used to impact others. Look at your job, your family, and your finances as opportunities to affect change. You may choose to donate your time for others who need your help. You might dedicate part of your monthly income to organizations that are serving the marginalized in our world. Ask God for guidance and clarity as you leverage all of it for him.
While mission trips often feel divorced from reality, the distractions of everyday life can actually be opportunities to continue what you started overseas. At the end of the day, it could be your life that is ultimately transformed. It just comes down to whether or not you’ll take advantage of the opportunity and make a difference.