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Lessons learned (?) from a short term mission trip

Posted by on Jul 5, 2011 in missional | Comments Off

Lessons learned (?) from a short term mission trip

Our family and three of my daughter’s friends spent last weekend with family near Knoxville, TN. The trip was an early birthday present for my daughter, Miranda. The girls all went to a concert, and we also spent time in Gatlinburg, TN and at Dollywood.

On Sunday morning, we met with our hosts’ church. We didn’t have much time, so we did not get to meet anyone who is part of the church – except for our family, of course.

But, we were excited to see that a group was presenting a short term mission trip report while we were there. (Thus, we missed – in a good way – most of the “patriotic” stuff that happened when many churches met last Sunday.)

Several people (maybe 20?) from this church – mostly teenagers – spent some time in an orphanage in Central America. They took turns telling about their experiences. I enjoyed hearing from the different people – not what normally happens in most churches.

They talked about the orphans, and a school, and some construction… etc. One young man (maybe 16?) shared about his experience sharing the gospel on the streets of the city. In fact, he told us that it was the first time he had ever shared the gospel with anyone. He was able to talk with at least two young men on the streets of (verbally) received the good news as he shared it with them.

This young man pointed out that he shared the gospel with people while on this short term mission trip because it was expected of him. In fact, he expected to share the gospel with others when he agreed to travel to this Central America country with his friends.

He also said something very important (and someone else repeated it later): While he expected to share the gospel while on the mission trip, he did NOT expect to share the gospel with anyone while at home.

This is a lesson that this young man learned on the trip – and it’s the lesson that I carried away from meeting with this church as well. What do we expect of ourselves while interacting with others? Do we expect to share the gospel? Do we expect to build up brothers and sisters in Christ that we meet? Do we expect to find people who need to be served? Do we expect to give money, resources, and time to people in need?

And, when do we expect these things? Do we only expect them in certain circumstances (i.e. “in church”) or are we expecting God to provide opportunities anytime and anywhere with anyone?

I’m glad this young man learned this lesson on the mission trip. I’m praying that he continues to learn the lesson, and that God gives him opportunities at home. (I know that God will do this… so I’m also praying that the young man will respond appropriately.)

I’m also glad this young man had an opportunity to share this “lesson learned” with us. I’m praying that all who heard will take this lesson to heart.

Of course, I heard also… which means I’m praying for myself as well.