(The following blog post is written by Man Up and Go Champion Jeff Ford)
So you’re thinking about going on a short term Christian missions trip? Missionary work overseas – or just being a volunteer locally – is typically the last phase of maturity for a believer in Jesus Christ. Before you can tell others about Jesus, you first have to believe Him for yourself. Once you believe, you need to grow. Once you grow, you’ll want to GO.
That’s where missions comes in, which is doing what Jesus told His followers to do in Matthew 28:19 – “Go into all nations and make disciples.”
Before you go on an international mission trip, however, it’s helpful to know a few things:
1. Know Your Motive
The prophet Jeremiah wrote the following:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9
It might seem counterintuitive to think you could have a bad motive doing mission trips for God. But remember the wisdom of the prophet – “The heart is deceitful…” Are you visiting that orphan because you think you know what’s best for her? Are you interested in the poverty of the nations because you feel guilty about your own wealth? Are you only serving in missionary work overseas as a distraction from your own internal issues with which you need to deal? Examining yourself first will provide clarity for the mission. You’ll know your motive is pure when the Holy Spirit gives you a peace you can’t explain (Phil. 4:7).
2. Know Your Ministry
What is God calling you to do? Construct a school? Disciple men? Do medical missions? Visit the orphan and widow? Combat sex trafficking? Sponsor a child? Build a well? Evangelize new people groups?
God gives each of His children distinct gifts to carry out His enterprises in the world (see Romans 12). These gifts determine your ministry. Think about it this way: take what you’re good at, throw in what you’re effective at, and then look at your present circumstances. This is usually a good indication of God’s will for your life – your personal, God-given ministry.
Don’t go on an international mission trip because that’s what your friends do, or your church does. Don’t go on one because it has the best schedule. And for the love of all that’s pure and holy (seriously), don’t go on a trip because it’s the cheapest. Volunteer on a trip because it aligns with your ministry, and let God work out the details.
3. Know Your Mission
The Westminster Shorter Catechism sums up the mission of mankind this way, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Jesus knew exactly what His mission was. He talked about being sent by God over 40 times in the Gospel of John alone. In John 6:38, He said:
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”
After God saves you, He stirs you to know Him. Once you’re stirred, He wants to shake this world with you. In order to shake this world, He’ll give you an unshakeable vision. This vision will start with one mission. That mission will lead to the next. Before long, you’re making Kingdom waves because you know you’ve been sent by God to do His will. Short term mission trips can both reveal and confirm your ministry.
While we all have different ministries, believers in Jesus have the same mission – to enjoy God and do His will. Knowing Him precedes going for Him; but once you know Him, you’ll want to go!