“WARNING! This Missions Trip may be addictive to your spiritual health. Expect a new passion to share the gospel with others and to be pulled out of your comfort zone and do things for God that you’ve never done before.” – Leslie Dingwall (SWMI Mission Team Member)
Introduction: Before I give you fourteen reasons why you should take a missions trip, let me warn you and enlighten you. Let me give you first, the warning, then, the enlightenment.
A) Missions trips will take you out of your comfort zone! If you cannot accept having your faith exercised and stretched, do not go on a missions trip. If you cannot trust God to take care of you in what you would consider to be a strange land, and among a strange people, then do not take a missions trip. If you are not willing to sacrifice your comforts and conveniences at home, such as heating, air-conditioning, screens in windows, Walmart and McDonalds, then do not go on a missions trip. Missions trips are not for the fainthearted, the lazy, or the selfish. So, who are missions trips for?
B) Missions trips are for the spiritually stable, and those who are willing to take up a temporary cross for the sake of a permanent crown. Missions trips are for those who want their faith to increase, their burden to grow, and their vision to expand. Mission trips are for those who care more about people than they care about things, or even more than they care about themselves. Missions trips are for believers who are not afraid of what God may ask them to do or where He might ask them to go…permanently. Missions trips are for believers whose fears are cast out by a greater love…a love for God, a love for lost souls, and a love to teach and preach His Holy Word to anyone who is hungry for it.
So, why should you take a missions trip?
1. Missions trips will enlighten you to the realities of life on a foreign mission field.
When you travel to a foreign country, you will experience sights, sounds, and smells that are different than what you are used to back home. You will learn things about cultures and people groups that you could not learn in a classroom or a church auditorium at home.
You will be enlightened to the way time is viewed and used in another country. You will gain fresh insights into different perspectives and values of other people groups. You will see how other people learn to be creative in order to accomplish things without the equipment, machines, and gadgets that you take for granted back home. You will experience new foods, strange foods, and interesting foods and realize that you can eat things that you did not dream of ever eating while growing up in America. You will find out how other people get around their villages, towns, and cities, often using methods of transport that you are not accustomed to use in America. You will discover the difficulty of going to a country where you do not understand the signs, billboards, labels, radio announcers, TV programs, or the people in general. You will find out what it is like to sit in a Sunday School class or church service and not understand the words of the testimonies, hymns, lessons, or messages.
You will experience the way the nationals view you as an American, or even as a Christian. Yes, mission trips have a way of enlightening you to the realities of life in another country.
2. Missions trips will allow you to make new, international friends, even among people of a different language, culture, background, and lifestyle.
As you spend time with national believers during church services and activities, you will soon realize that these brothers and sisters in Christ are a part of the same family of God that you are. You will be amazed at how much you will be able to communicate with each other just because you have a bond in Christ, and a commonality in eternal purposes and goals. You will be even more amazed at how close you can become to an international stranger, through the bond of love in Christ, in a very short time. Many believers have traveled overseas and within 10-14 very short days found themselves in tears as they said their goodbyes to people who just a few days ago were total strangers to them.
You will also be able to make friends among people who do not even know Jesus Christ. Often, lost people will have many questions about why you, as an American, are visiting their country. Even lost people in other countries love to have friends who are Americans, or foreigners to them. They like to have their pictures taken with you, and they will ask for your email address, or other contact information. (Although some may use this information to try to get you to help them into the USA, or possibly even ask for financial assistance, more often than not they simply want to be your friend.)
3. Missions trips will increase your burden for lost people who need Jesus Christ.
When lost people in other countries want to be your friend, then doors of evangelism begin to open for you. You probably will have several doors swing open to you, quite easily and quickly, doors that do not swing open so wide and often in the USA. You will notice a genuine openness to the Gospel, or at least an openness to you as a foreigner, which will allow you to share your faith and preach Jesus Christ to them. More often than not, you will find a willing ear to listen to you share from the Word of God. This will increase your burden for the lost of that country.
On the other hand, if you happen to visit a country where the people are antagonistic to Christians, or even antagonistic to Americans in general, this also will hit you like a brick, and God will use it to burden you more for the lost who are so blind to their spiritual needs.
4. Missions trips will teach you how to pray more effectively:
a. for the missionaries,
b. for the national laborers,
c. for the national believers, and
d. for the lost.
While you are staying with missionaries, traveling with them throughout the day, and observing their personal lives and ministry activities, you will see firsthand how important your prayers are to them. When you return home, you will replay many scenes in your mind as you begin to pray for those missionaries more effectually and effectively.
You will begin to pray for the national believers in a different way, as well as for those national laborers who are teaching and preaching the word of God in their own language and culture. Their faces will pop up in front of you as you begin to pray at home, like you have never prayed before.
And, because your burden for the lost has increased during your missions trip, you will find yourself praying more effectually and fervently for the lost. That will also affect the way you pray for lost people around you at home.
One’s prayer life will never be the same after returning from a missions trip, if one’s heart was tender towards the things of God before and during the trip.
5. Missions trips will cause you to be more excited about the cause of Christ in your own local church and community back home.
Once back home, you will find yourself reevaluating your own ministries in your local church and community. You will seek to find ways to do more for Christ right where you are. No doubt, you will begin to think of ways to implement at home certain missionary strategies and methods that were employed on the foreign field.
The missions trips that you take will affect you so much, that they will also thrill your pastor and others who have invested spiritually in your life. As you begin to get more involved in ministry at home, and become more creative and take more initiative based on your experience overseas, you will become a great blessing to leaders and other Christians in your local church.
6. Missions trips will open your eyes to the needs of international people who are now living in your own community.
Many Christians who live in the USA still do not notice the great and effectual door that is open to them to reach international people for Christ, that is, until they have traveled in the international community. For some reason, when we are sitting in America, we do not have much of a burden for foreigners who are moving into our area to live and work. Many churches, yea, many Christians, still see foreigners as a nuisance, and would prefer not to have them in their communities.
However, once you travel overseas, there is a tendency to become more “color-blind.” We begin to see other ethnic groups as lost souls for whom Jesus Christ died, often for the very first time.
What is even more fascinating is the fact that we begin noticing foreigners in our town who were from the very same country we just visited. Interestingly enough, we never saw them or noticed them before the missions trip, but now they seemingly come out of the woodwork. If you ever take a trip to India, you will be shocked by how many people from India you will meet when you arrive back in the USA!
7. Missions trips will challenge you to be more creative in the way you support the cause of missions worldwide.
While you are overseas, or visiting any mission field that is foreign, strange, or different to you, you will begin to imagine the things that you can do from back home to be helpful to these people as they serve the Lord on their field.
When back home, you will remember the things that you missed the most while you were on your missions trip. And, most likely, you will hear from the missionaries and their children about some of the things that they miss the most from back home. You will began to think of things that you can send to them, things that would be helpful to their ministries, or a blessing to their family. You will begin to be more frugal in order to be able to send more financial support or gifts to the field.
Missions trips will challenge you to get more involved in the Ladies Missionary Society of your local church, or in some other group that specifically has been formed to pray and care for missionaries. These trips will challenge you to get involved in helping with the “Missions Closet” or Missions Care Center of your own local church. If you are a student in a Christian college, a missions trip will challenge you to be more involved in the Missions Prayer Band at that college.
It is also possible that you will become creative and begin to suggest plans and activities to your pastor that would help to further the cause of missions around the world.
(Pastor, you would do your church good to listen to the heartbeat of those who return from missions trips and begin to implement ideas and methods that are now on the hearts of these people! You are the key to encouraging them or discouraging them for local evangelism, further church involvement, and missions. These people can often be the catalyst for your church to advance the Gospel more than ever to a lost world, starting at your Jerusalem and reaching to the uttermost!)
8. Missions trips will allow you to speak more intelligently to others in your home church about their need to be more involved in missions.
As is quite often the case, when you return from a missions trip, you will begin to encourage others to take missions trips as well in the near future. Your excitement will begin to rub off on others. Besides that, you also will want to take more missions trips in the future, and consequently challenge others to go along with you on those trips.
Your new excitement in the area of missions and evangelism in your own church will be a catalyst for your friends to get more involved as well.
At some point, it is likely that you will begin to feel that those who have not been on any missions trip before just do not have the same heart and burden for the lost that you now have. This will encourage you even more to challenge them to take a missions trip, in order that they might get fired up for God, lost souls, and ministry in general.
9. Missions trips will help you to identify better with the sacrifices that foreign missionaries experience on their fields.
It is hard for someone from the USA, or another first world country, to imagine the hardships and the sacrifices that many foreign missionaries have to make for the cause of Christ. But when you travel overseas, you will see firsthand how missionaries live on a daily basis, and learn about the sacrifices they make in order to live and serve the Lord in a foreign country.
If you visit missionaries who are still learning the language, you will begin to get a feel for what it is like to struggle in language school as well as in communicating to the people. If the missionaries live in a huge city, while you are from a small town in Podunk Holler, USA, then you will be exposed to life in the big city, which will probably shock you immensely. If, on the other hand, the missionaries live in a village, in a forest or jungle, or along the banks of a large river, you will begin to see the hardships of missionary life from a different angle.
If the missionaries live in a country or an area where the nationals are antagonistic to Christ and Christianity, then you will notice spiritual blindness and barriers like never before, and begin to appreciate the sacrifice these missionaries are making in order to take the Gospel to a people hardened by sin and Satan.
It is very likely, especially if you are on your first missions trip, that you will notice sacrifices that the missionaries are making which never even crossed your mind before. Your eyes will be opened!
10. Missions trips will help you to be more discerning when speaking with or asking questions of veteran missionaries who visit your church.
When veteran missionaries visit your church, after you have been on a foreign mission field, you will begin to understand the things they say and feel more personally. When you seek to speak with them, you will speak with much more experience than ever before. Your questions will not be as simple or “stupid” as they once were.
As you talk to the missionaries, you will begin to relate your experiences to what they say about their own field. Even though some of the peculiarities of the field you visited may be different from their field, you will still feel that you understand their lives, their ministries, and their heartbeat more than you ever did before visiting the mission field.
The questions you begin to ask about their ministries and personal lives will be much more intelligent and relevant. This will probably even get you more invitations from other missionaries to visit their field and ministries.
11. Mission trips will help you to become more thankful for the missionaries that your church supports, and to become more involved in their lives even from a distance.
Once you have visited missionaries on a foreign field, and have seen the sacrifices they make to live where they live, and to do what they do, in order to reach the lost for Christ and see more churches established, you will become much more grateful for them. You will see the importance of praying for them, the importance of supporting them financially, and the importance of communicating with them on a regular basis. Your appreciation for their ministry will grow exponentially once you have been in their home and in their churches.
12. Missions trips will help you to become more grateful for the many blessings God has given you at home, in your local church, and in your home country.
When you arrive back home, you will thank God even for some of the simple every day things that you have taken for granted for so long. Depending on the country and the area you visited, it is possible that you will thank God for clean drinking water out of the faucet at home. You will begin to thank God for a shower, or even a bathtub. You may need to thank God for the door on your bathroom, or the grass in your yard. You will thank God for the food in your cupboards, and the restaurants you frequent so often. You will begin to thank God for the (relatively) low cost of living compared to most foreign fields. You will thank God for the low price of gasoline. You will thank God that you can get around the USA so easily and quickly. You will thank God even for the roads and highways, and for the conveniences all along those highways. You will thank God for heating and air-conditioning in your vehicles (plural), at home, as well as at church!
Returning to the soil of the USA you will find things to thank God for, things that you never took the time to thank God for before. It is amazing how our eyes are opened to the conveniences and comforts of life at home, once we have traveled in “The Third World.”
13. Missions trips will stretch your faith.
The Bible says that the just shall live by their faith. But, far too often believers in the USA do not exercise much faith. Faith can be stretched while living in the USA in many ways. God sees to that.
However, a missions trip can stretch your faith in many ways hitherto unforeseen. First, for many Christians the amount of money needed for a missions trip can be daunting. You may wonder how you will ever come up with the needed funds for a missions trip. It is likely that you have never had to raise so much money before, without going into debt. It may force you to have a yard sale, a bake sale, a car wash, or even something harder… It may force you to pray! And, as the time gets closer to your departure, or to a deadline when a certain amount must be raised, your faith will be stretched even tighter.
Your faith will also be stretched after arriving on the mission field. You will be asked to do things you have never done before, go places you have never gone before, do things publicly that you have never done publicly before, and put things in your mouth that you have never put in your mouth before. You may be asked to eat in places that you never would have chosen yourself. The nationals will put you in situations in which you have never been before, like trying to communicate with you in broken English that you still do not understand. You will have to learn how to greet people in their country the way they greet people, rather than the way you are used to greeting people in the USA. That may mean with a hug, some kind of touch besides a handshake, or even a kiss, or two, or three.
The ministries you are asked to be involved in may include going to places where hygiene is something only seen on TV in their region. Your ministries may include going into a leper colony or working with HIV positive groups. You may have to take a bath, if you take one at all, in a river or a pond where there may be leeches, snakes, piranhas, or even crocodiles. You may be asked to sleep in quarters where there are spiders and scorpions. The list could go on and on, but you get the point. Your faith may be stretched on a foreign missions trip like never before. Just remember, God’s grace is always sufficient, and God is still sovereign and in control even on what is “the foreign mission field” to you.
14. Missions trips may be used of God to confirm a certain call or direction in your life, one way or another.
God uses missions trips in many varied ways. Sometimes, He confirms in your own life and heart that you are exactly in the place that He wants you… serving Him in the USA. In this case, He uses these missions trips in other ways in your life as outlined and explained above.
However, in some cases God will use a missions trip, or several, to open your eyes to how God can use you personally and permanently on a foreign field. He will show you exactly how you will fit in to those needs that you became aware of while visiting a certain field.
Some people do not know what God’s will is for their life over the long haul. They wonder if God wants them on a foreign field or not, in missions or not. If you are one of those people, a trip to the mission field is one way that God may use to confirm, one way or another, His perfect will for your life.
Yes, I have seen God use it in both ways. I have seen God burden the heart of an individual during, or even after, a missions trip so much that they ended up returning as a full-time, vocational missionary. However, I have also seen God confirm in the minds of others that He did not want them on a foreign field permanently, but that He had even greater ministries for them at home, ministries that would stretch all around the world, rather than in one small place.
Conclusion: Missions trips are a wonderful way to get out of your box and experience the world. They are one method God uses to work in the lives of nationals, both those who are lost and those who are believers. He also uses them in the lives of the missionaries, the lives of your companions, and in your own life, in many ways as outlined above.
If you have never taken a missions trip, now is the time to begin praying and thinking about it. Ask your pastor about taking a missions trip. Show him this outline. Contact us at SWMI for more information about how you can get involved in a missions trip. SWMI can also work with your pastor or missions committee and help to organize a missions trip for you. This may involve our contacts, but we are also willing to use your own missionaries as a location for the missions trip. We can even tailor the trip for you individually or for your church group. Or, you may want to join one of our larger groups. Either way, we are here to help you and your church to grow in the area of missions.
Contact me, David Bennett, at 423-322-7995, or call our office at 706-657-8000. We will be more than happy to help you get involved in a missions trip.