I have been on several mission trips. How about you? Have you ever traveled to a remote location
and served God by serving others? I've been to Mississippi, Louisiana, and northern Minnesota. Others I know have ventured as far as Venezuela, Romania, Turkey and even Iran. Mission trips can be a wonderful experience. But do we need to travel large distances to make the experience worth it? Interesting question.
The church I am currently attending has determined that taking a trip to Northern Minnesota is not worth the distance traveled for the result gained. Yet every year or so we choose to send a group of adults and teens to Venezuela. What's the difference? Why is one destination more important than another? I'm not complaining, just wondering.
I attended an area church recently - one of those larger ones where nobody really knows your name. It wasn't until after the worship service, as I was leaving the building, that I noticed the sign over the doors. "You are now entering the mission field."
I stopped and stared at the sign, letting the message soak in, as dozens of people flowed around me like I was a rock in a river. I am now entering the mission field . . . . hmmm. "The mission field is right outside these doors?" I thought to myself.
In the Book of John there is a story entitled "Jesus and the Woman of Samaria" - aka The Woman at the Well. You can read it here. Jesus went on a trip to Judea and was headed for Galilee next. To do so he had to travel through Samaria. Jews and Samaritans did not get along to well from what I read so why even go through that area? But that didn't stop Jesus. He was on a mission . . . a mission trip. His entire LIFE was a mission trip! But let's focus on this one part for a moment.
After Jesus had spoken to the woman at the well he was talking to his disciples who had just returned from their search for food.
"34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest."
The entire world is a mission field. It's where you work. It's where you go to school. The mission field not only exists outside the very walls of your church but within them as well. And the people we are to reach are ready (white) for the harvest. (grains of wheat turn white when they are ready to be harvested). People have BEEN ready for thousands of years! There are ALWAYS people waiting to hear the gospel. "The POOR you will always have with you" (Mark 14:7)
So why do churches travel great distances to "reach people with the gospel" when those just outside the doors of our church are hungry for the word of God? Good question. Could it be that "the journey" is what makes the destination more meaningful? Again, not complaining here. Just asking a question.
If we say, "My church went to South Dakota this year to spread The Word." Why is that more important than, "I went and talked to a homeless guy living under the railroad bridge behind WalMart."
Maybe I am wrong but I think many mission trips these days are more about "us" than they are about "them." I feel mission trips serve a purpose, especially youth-based trips, but are those ON the trip more important that those encountered along the way?
The point of this blog post is NOT to bash mission trips. But the intent IS to make sure that the "mission" of the trip is spreading the Gospel, WHEREVER the mission field is.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," - Matthew 28-19
If we are to "make disciples of all nations" that obviously will involve a little travel. But let us not forget those in our own communities who need to hear the Good News we have in our hearts. That we are born sinners and therefore eternally separated from God, who demands perfection. We can never provide that on our own. "But in stepped Jesus." (See Propaganda video below) The only way we can make amends to a Holy, Righteous God is through a sacrifice - the sacrifice of a spotless lamb. Jesus WAS that lamb and He was sacrificed for our sins. That gift, that grace, is available to ANYONE who believes in Him, the Son of the Living God.
So, wherever you are, wherever you go today, think of yourself as being on a mission trip for Jesus. Who will be your "Woman at the Well? And what will you say? Who will you speak to about Jesus? Because THAT should be the TRUE meaning of ANY mission trip. Jesus!
The G.O.S.P.E.L. - by Propaganda