Check Your Flexibility

Just because you signed up to do a certain project or role doesn’t mean that’s what will actually take place once you get there. My friend Janice, a frequent mission-tripper, tells me she’s occasionally arrived to find there was actually nothing there for her to do or the situation had changed so their original mission was no longer possible. As she said, “You know you’re comfortable with being a servant of God when people treat you like a servant and you’re OK with that.” Even if you do what you came to do, the odds of everything going perfectly according to plan are slim to none. You’ll be happier (and so will the people around you) if you make peace with that idea on the front end of your trip.

Check Your Tolerance

How do you feel about being hot, sweaty, and grubby? Going without electricity, running water, and modern toilets? What about eating food you’re not used to? If your mission trip is to a third-world country, you may have to deal with all this and more. If comfy beds, hot showers—or bathing facilities of any kind, for that matter—are must-haves for you, choose your destination accordingly.

Another thing to consider: how comfortable are you with people who don’t look, speak, or act like you? Even Christians from a church of your denomination may have standards, behaviors, or ways of doing things that are different from yours. You don’t necessarily have to agree with everything, just be mindful that you’re there to serve, not pass judgment.

Check Your Expectations

Check them at the door, that is. Be open to whatever God has for you. You may go expecting to change someone else’s life and you may do just that. But the biggest change will most likely be in your own heart.

The Bottom Line

If you are firmly convinced God is calling you to go to the mission field, whether it be for a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime . . . GO. No matter how scary it may seem, you’re always better off in the center of God’s will—even in a war zone—than out of it. Pray (without ceasing), plan (as best you can), and pack (your Bible and other necessities). Go and tell. God will go with you.

“If I rise with the sun in the east and settle in the west beyond the sea, even there you would guide me. With your right hand you would hold me.” Psalms 139:9-10

Susan EllingburgSusan Ellingburg is a natural-born Texan who sings at every opportunity, reads as much as possible, and cherishes every day she gets to spend with friends. She's a serious foodie and not-so-serious gardener who is determined not to let being single stand in the way of living an amazing life. Read Susan's blog at