I’ve had many opportunities to serve with ministries, organizations and churches in other cities and countries around the world. In fact, our family just got back form a week long youth choir mission trip with our church, and it was awesome! See a few images from our trip in this short video.
If you’ve been on a mission trip before, you may be able to relate to some of the images in that video. Most trips I have been involved with share some similarities from beginning to end. There is a lot of prayer and planning leading up to the trip. There is a lot of promotion and excitement before we go! The groups get super prepared to be used by God and make an impact in the community so that our Lord Jesus is glorified. We are always very intentional on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and are very aware of the needs around us. And finally, we are willing to do whatever it takes to meet those needs in Jesus’ name while we are on the trip.
I am a firm believer that God does amazing work on these short term trips, and I am a huge proponent of going to assist our brothers and sisters in serving their community. I believe in making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). However, true discipleship takes more time and effort than can be given in a short term mission trip—we must make disciples where we live.
Acts 1:8 says, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Scripture is clear that we are to be witnesses where we live, and that seems to be the hardest place to be a witness for Jesus. Of course at home we have more responsibilities in front of us—but there are many distractions as well. When we go off to another place we are able to uninhibitedly focus on the task at hand. This may be true, but at home we also tend to focus on ourselves more—our sinful flesh is selfish. When we go on a trip and intentionally place the priority on others above ourselves, we place ourselves in a much better position to serve wholeheartedly.
Then we return home. Our responsibilities are waiting for us at the door, and distractions pop in front of us at every turn. Our focus can easily begin to shift back to ourselves again.
A good question to ask ourselves: Does our location determine our ability to serve others?
I don’t think so. To me, it appears that if we focus on loving God with all of our heart, soul and mind and loving our neighbors as ourselves, our focus will naturally make a shift from self to others. We will be used by God both on far away trips and in the community in which he has placed us to live.
So, after an amazing trip spending ourselves for the sake of Jesus Christ, what do we do now?
I propose we continue doing what we did while we were away—right here where we live. We know it is possible because we saw it in that foreign place (be it another city or another country). Let us remember, though, that is not possible with us, but with Christ through whom all things are possible (Philippians 4:13).
Let’s not wait until the next trip to be used by God. Let’s be obedient now! Right now, right where He has placed us in this moment.