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August 3, 2010
Taking a Long Term Missions Trip
Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Editor
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
Matthew 9:37-38, NIV
This week, I've been praying for a group of friends who are on a short-term missions trip in Japan.
I even have this handy-dandy little rubberized bracelet I can wear each day that's inscribed with a reminder to "Pray for Japan." Actually, I'm not sporting it on my wrist right at the moment (gasp!), but I've got it prominently positioned on my office desk so that I will see it and pray as I am able throughout my work day.
As the team members post entries on their blog each day, I have been able to follow along with other supporters and know what the team is doing, who they're meeting with and even how much or how little sleep they've gotten the night before (seriously). It's showing me how I can pray specifically as they share the Gospel during their 10-day assignment.
That almost instantaneous reporting from an overseas mission field is something that even just a decade or so ago wasn't really happening—if even at all possible. In fact, I don't how long it took Paul's letters from his missionary journeys to get back to the various supporting churches in Bible times, but I have a feeling he might have tapped in to the advantages of the latest communications technology of our day. Getting out the good news of what God is doing today to as many people as possible in just one click? That's genius!
When I first heard the Japan missions team explain the purposes of their trip before they left, I must confess that I felt a little jealous. I wanted to be a part of an exciting endeavor such as this. I wanted the opportunity to travel abroad and to get that kind of life-changing, mountain-top experience that I hear a lot of people talking about when they come home from trips like these.
But then some of the words they used to describe their goals came to the fore in my mind. "It's a relational type of missions trip. We are building relationships with students and young professionals—engaging them in conversations and sharing our testimonies with them—so that seeds might be planted and friendships might be developed that will aid in opening hearts and minds to Jesus Christ."
Hey, I don't have to travel to do that. I can make a difference right where I live! Can't I?
Yes, we all surely can.
But if I don't go somewhere exotic or that requires a passport, then it's not "real" missions work, is it?
Missions isn't only for career missionaries or those who embark on short-term trips like these—at least my Bible doesn't tell me so. As Christians—as "Christ followers"—we are all charged with delivering a message to others, wherever we or they may live:
In Mark 16:15, Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."
All the world. Huh. That would include right where I live, right? My neighborhood. My community. People at work. People at church. People in the grocery store. People driving past me. People soliciting at my front door. Every day, I have many, many opportunities to share this news. Or not.
Jesus said, "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Or in other words, "Fish or cut bait." Right?
Some of us may be called to move away from our homes, to travel to distant lands to share the Good News. Others will be led to reach out to those where we live. But regardless of the geography or the people group, we are all called to take long-term (and life-long!) missions trips to seek out and reach the lost for Christ.
I'm ready to go. Are you?
Intersecting Faith & Life: J. Hudson Taylor said, "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies." As a Christ follower, how has God supplied you to do his work? And how does he want to work through your life today to reach others? Could he be calling you to reach out to people involved in a particular industry or niche which you belong to or have an affinity for? Think outside of the box and see how God wants to use you in missionary work for his purposes and his kingdom today.