Thursday, February 16, 2006

February 15, 2006

The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them....These were his instructions to them: "The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. Pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, and ask him to send out more workers for his fields. Go now, and remember that I am sending you. Luke 10:1-3

I still haven’t recovered from my spring break in 1984! As a junior in college, I was giving up my vacation time to go live in a tent in the dirt of Mexico. A fraternity brother challenged me to join him and his youth group and venture on this short-term mission trip.

While I cannot tell you about the eternal impact we had with the precious people in the villages of Mexico, I can verify the lasting impact in my life. My view of the world and of Jesus and of His kingdom would never be the same.

Two years later, I had the faith to invest my summer break and venture halfway around the world to Yugoslavia. That trip ruined me! It ruined the way I would forever view the world and what my life would stand for. It sealed my conviction that, regardless of my vocation, I would strive to live for and invest in the Great Commission. I have never been the same.

To be frank, I know of no experience like a short-term mission trip to expand your worldview, align your convictions, increase your passion for God and building His kingdom, and shape the values and vision of your children. While the benefits are numerous, there are some very tangible reasons why one should never go:

1. It will distort your perception of the world! While seeing it through the lenses of our American middle class Christian worldview once seemed sufficient, you will see our culture and your calling (regardless of your vocation) differently. You may come back and be prone to crazy behavior like, investing time in our street outreach program every week, prayer walking our city, praying for every house in your neighborhood every day, resourcing Great Commission initiatives and seeing your place of employment as a mission field! Trust me sisters and brothers, this short-term missions thing could really mess with you.
2. You will experience sadness and angst that you haven’t felt before. After you see real suffering, you won’t pay much attention to complaining about how hard you’ve got it. I will never forget the injustice I sensed after telling a man overseas about Jesus, the first time He ever heard the Name. I cried all night about how unfair it was for us in America to be saturated with Jesus, and my new friend lived 22 years never knowing He existed. Trust me, it is easier to stay home and stay comfortable!
4. You could feel a pull towards going overseas again—I must warn you of my friend David and his family. Between jobs, my friend invested some vacation time on a short-term trip to China. David called his wife during the trip, crying, to say he thinks they should move to Beijing! She was crying also, agreeing with him. Be careful: you could slowly, subtly get sucked into thinking about being a career missionary!