I was reading a great article on short term missions and it got me thinking about my own experiences being a part of trips and leading them. Here's the article I read; check it out: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/rethinking-mission-trips
Over the years I have compiled a list of 11 missions trips in which some I was a part of and some I led. Over the years I have discovered a few key truths about short term missions trips. These truths are the same for every trip and for most students going because it doesn’t matter where you go, it's just a matter of going. The reason I put most students is because I have discovered that not all students are going for the right reasons. Sometimes they allow God to get a hold of them, shake them loose of the bond the devil has on them and they come back different! I know this because I was that kid the summer before my senior year. I went with my youth group to the Cayman Islands on a mission trip to help run a camp for kids. One night we were helping run a service and God got a hold of my heart and I have never been the same.
When we go on trips we are always focused on what we are going to do and how we are going to accomplish the task. You need goals and tasks in order to help a community, share the Gospel and use your talents for His Glory. If you didn’t have those then why are you going would be an appropriate question that needs to be asked. But the question that often gets missed is: What is God going to do in my life because of this trip? That's where we find our mission trip truths. Here are 3 key truths I see in every trip.
1. It's eye opening.
Almost always your going to a place that is not like your place, your surroundings, your comfort level. Hopefully you are being stretched and your view of the world is being changed. When your eyes are opened it seems like it makes room for the Holy Spirit to make some changes. This leads into the next key truth.
2. Lasting Impact
This one seem like it should be combined in the last one but let me explain.. Missions trips should create a lasting impact because when you are there, you are serving and allowing God to use you. You are portraying what God asks of us in the Bible; how He wants us to live. The Bible says if you want to be free, give your life away. If you want to be first, be last (servant hood). If you want to be close to God's heart, see the World through my eyes. When you are on these trips you are being stretched and used. You are so close to God's heart and God is doing a work in your life. I have seen students come back from trips and want to make impact in their own communities like they did there. I have seen students come back and make career choices based on how they felt there. I have seen students go on mission trips and want to become missionaries. There is no doubt that when students go on trips God could make a lasting impact in their life.
3. Jesus' becomes clearer
In their own life on these trips Jesus because more clearer. Students make decisions to go harder after God, to quit doing certain things that are hindering their relationship with God, to change their life and become real about their relationship with Jesus.
I have seen these truths be evident in my own life and in the lifes of many students over the years. Don’t underestimate the power that a short term mission trip could have on the life of a student.
If you go to HCC, there will be a 2013 missions meeting on Aug 19 at 10:30 in the VERB Lounge to go over all of the missions trips for VERB next year along with the adult trips as well. Yes, these core truths are the same truth for adults.