I enjoy leading short-term mission trips because of the many unique things that take place on the mission field. There is no shortage of variety and definitely no boring times when involved in God’s work. On this last trip to Mexico, we had the opportunity to go up and down the streets of a small community talking to each person we came into contact with. We asked if they wanted prayer – and then we prayed for them, we invited them to some special meetings that we were having, and we encouraged them to walk in the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Many people cried as we were praying for them, maybe they were sensing the care of others, the weight of the own struggles or perhaps being aware that God was near. In one situation, as we were praying for one man, his nephew walked over to see what we were doing, he too wanted prayer, then the father of the first man, came over and he also wanted prayer. Within a couple of minutes five men had gathered, asked questions, and sought prayer. It was exciting to have God work through us as we prayed for people and tried to encourage these people to walk in real ways with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many times as team members are returning back to Canada, they fondly say, “Oh, this trip was so wonderful, I wish things like this happened back home and not just on the mission field!” I know exactly what they mean, there is something invigorating that takes place when you know that in some way you have partnered with God and that lives are touched. The question is why don’t we experience this in the same way here at home?
Perhaps we need to look at one of the dynamics of the short term mission trips. Take note that for at least 6 weeks: the team regularly met each week for 2 – 3 hours to pray, plan, prepare lessons, practice and discuss the culture. As well team members prayed and prepared at home. Holidays were booked, fundraising was done, loved ones were left behind, there were long hours of travelling, and the team lived in uncomfortable conditions. Food and cultures and languages were different. Large amounts of money was expended . Then when on the mission field each team person lived with a focused desire to let God work through them. There were no distractions of TV, video games, family, sports, or even their normal jobs. All efforts were focused upon accomplishing the tasks that God had set before them.
Now perhaps if we invested as much personal time, energy and resources in such a concerted and focused effort here at home then we too would experience great opportunities for God to work through us. I do realize that in some ways it is a little unrealistic to be able to live “all-the-time” with the focus and preparation which is done on short term mission trips. But perhaps here at home each of us can at least apply ourselves “some-of-the-time.” Lord help our lives to be focused on what truly is important.