What if I Don’t Go? Lessons from My Summer
Summer 2015: my first summer in six years without a mission trip.
Because of family commitments, my husband and I decided not to serve overseas this past summer. And for multiple reasons, it was the right decision.
But without a mission trip, summer didn’t seem like summer. I missed the packing, the planning, the prayer over the country and the people. I missed the confusion and excitement of travel, the challenge of operating in another language, and the fun of discovering how people in other cultures and countries live. I missed the early-morning bus rides, the late-night talk sessions, the evening challenges in Word and worship. I missed the performances of a gospel-sharing drama and the intense conversations and conversions that followed. I missed the miracles of healing, provision, salvation, and more.
A summer without missions didn’t seem like summer. Not at all.
But is God only at work on the mission field? And is missions only about my satisfaction? Of course not. This summer proved a good time to reflect on the reasons I go and tell. Besides having some of my personal preferences unfulfilled, what happens if I don’t go?
- People don’t come to know Christ. I don’t have the gift of evangelism, but I do love Jesus. A lot. And I believe his Word compels me to tell others about him. If I miss a trip, the people with whom I would have shared miss the gospel. Yes, God can cover that through others, but fewer missionaries means fewer contacts, and fewer contacts means fewer people who have the opportunity to hear and respond.
- Students don’t grow in their faith. Every mission trip I’ve taken has involved some of my favorite people: students. I love the double opportunity these trips bring to share my faith with the nationals and share about my faith with the teens, some of whom have become lifelong friends. Of course, I learn as much from these students as they do from me (“Never the Same Missions: Grace” gives one heartfelt example). So I miss out on the spiritual growth that takes place on the mission field, too.
- Those in need receive less. When I travel overseas, I take clothing, toys, and other items to share. Our Never the Same teams raise extra money to bring Spanish Bibles each year. And while on the field, it seems there’s always a project, a church, or a ministry that needs our help via cleaning, painting, or other practical acts. One less person on the field means less giving in those ways, too.
- Stories of God’s work don’t get told. I live and move and breathe as a storyteller, so whether I’m the official writer on a trip or not, I can’t help but tell stories about the great things God has done (check here and here for two more stories).
In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, bumbling angel Clarence shows George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, the dramatic ways in which others’ lives would have changed without his presence and impact. As you pray about a potential mission trip, ask God to show you whose lives will be different—today and in eternity—if you don’t go. Who needs your witness, your touch, your unique gifts and talents? His answer may surprise you.
Will it move you to action?
What missions opportunities is God placing before you? Who will miss out if you don’t go and tell? If you’re praying about one for yourself or a family member, let me know. I’d love to add my prayers to yours.