This past week, I had the joy of leading a group of students to a mission trip to New York. The beginning of the week was filled with hard work on the Word of Life Bible Institute Campus and Word of Life camps. We mowed acres of land, and painted about a dozen cabins. It was a full couple days of work. Then, we took off for New York City to share the Gospel on the streets. Here’s what I learned from this precious week of ministry…
No “I Can’t”. We could have easily made this entire trip a week of work. Painting, cleaning, and serving at the camp would have been a blessing to both our team and the camp. We would have been physically stretched for sure, but these students needed something more. This was a step of faith, and for some a terrifying step. But they did it! They shared their faith with complete strangers, handed out tracts to people passing by, and prayed with people who needed answers. I saw fear change to boldness. A boldness I hope will carry on to bring the Gospel here…and reach this city for Christ.
People Need the Lord. Sorry for putting that famous Steve Green song in your head for the rest of the day, but it’s true. There are people who are searching for something bigger, searching for hope, searching for joy, searching for forgiveness…and the list goes on. And the Gospel can provide all these things. God has provided a way of hope, joy, forgiveness and assurance of eternal life. And people need this and many want to hear about it.
God Controls The Weather. I remember looking at the weather for our trip and seeing many days with rain in the forecast. With good weather being of utmost importance, I just had to pray that God would work it all out. Well, would you believe that it only rained when we were not doing ministry? That’s right, it rained at breakfast one day, and on the days of travel. Incredible! God is truly in control.
I’m ashamed that I’m ashamed. Why am I not sharing the sweet good news of the Gospel more? Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Am I too lazy? Am I too busy? If I’m honest with myself, it is probably a combination of the three. There’s no reason why I cannot have more Gospel conversations. It shouldn’t take 1500 miles of travel for me to be motivated to daily focus on sharing the Good News. While I have the privilege of sharing Jesus regularly as a pastor, I fall way short of the faithful witness God wants me to be.
I love my “job”. You may think I’m crazy for taking 7 teenagers into New York City (by the way, my wife was with us and she is amazing, and I brought another leader who was incredible on the trip as well). Who would spend a week of their summer driving nearly 25 hours, staying up late, mustering up energy to get teens up (and yourself up), sleeping on cot mattresses on the floor…I LOVED IT ALL! These teenagers bring me joy. I get to see them share their hearts, help others, grow closer to God, encourage each other, fight through fears and frustrations, and come home changed. I’m so very blessed to this for a living.
So for those that debate on doing short-term mission trips…do it. Do it to find life-changing results. Do it to change the culture of your youth ministry. Do it to help spread the Gospel and the love of Jesus. Do it because there is no lesson, program, or event you can design that does what these trips do. The teens that got on that bus or van at the beginning of the week will be different when they step off that bus or van at the end of the week. Go and make disciples of all nations!