So, what is the "mission" of the trip? That's a question I ask many groups as I sit waiting in the airport. Mission Teams are easy to spot. They are the ones wearing the same t-shirt, carrying over-stuffed backpacks. I would love to say that in over 10 years of inquiring that I have been excited about the responses I get when talking to these groups. Unfortunately, the "mission" they often talk about is (though very helpful) very temporal. Many share about countless humanitarian projects - painting, construction, feeding, well-drilling, medical, orphan ministry, etc. Don't get me wrong, I also lead teams to conduct similar projects. And the need are very real and often overwhelming. But should these things be the "mission" of the trip for God's People?
So, what is the "mission" of the trip? According God's Word, the GOSPEL is the primary mission for God's People. The Bible also speaks extensively about helping people in practical ways as well. Jesus even helped people physically (heal the sick, feed the hungry, etc.) as He visited communities. However, Jesus always made spiritual needs the priority. So, what does that means for Christ-Followers? Meeting needs (physical, emotional, etc.) should always go hand in hand with meeting spiritual needs. Paint a house...and share the Gospel. Love the orphan...and share the Gospel. Heal the sick...and share the Gospel. Don't focus on the temporal project and completely neglect the eternal responsibility of every Christian...Share the Gospel!!!
On my first international mission trip to Nicaragua, I learned how important it really is to know the "mission" of the trip. A Nicaraguan pastor thanked me (and our team) for coming to his country. He was particularly thankful for the primary focus of our trip - evangelism. He told us that many teams come to Nicaragua and do many great things. They paint churches, build houses, and feed the hungry. He was very thankful for the assistance. However, he reminded us that their churches would need to be painted again. Houses will need to be rebuilt. People will be hungry again very soon. BUT...the Word of God will never fade away. He said, "Thank you for sharing the Gospel with my people." I will never forget that conversation. It has driven me to make the "mission" of the trip very clear to all who join me. We must (above everything else) proclaim the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ!
What's the "mission" of your trip? Family? Church? Life?