It’s been several weeks since your summer mission trip. You returned on a post-trip high. Your closeness to God, your focus on the Great Commission, and your dedication to sharing God’s mercy were at an elevated level.
How’s it going now?
Most short-term trips result in an elevated enthusiasm for missions, but day-to-day life returns and, before you know it, you’ve stopped thinking about the nations.
This is an all too common experience. One of the great benefits of short-term trips is the heightened focus on global evangelism that occurs in you, your peers, and your church. But it’s easy to let that slip away. It’s easy to miss the chance to make missions a fixture in your life and in the life of your church.
Transform Your Trip
Here are eight suggestions that could transform this past summer’s post-trip high into a life-altering, Christ-exalting experience:
Take the ministry you served this summer before the Lord daily. Keep praying for the full-time missionaries and nationals you met. Pray for the people who joined you from your church and ask God to create a greater passion for missions in them. Ask him to refresh and keep your heart focused on missions, and seek his will for your next step. (Operation World and The Joshua Project are terrific resources for prayer.)
Did you tell your friends about your experience? This is perhaps the best way to get others in your church and social circle excited about missions. Post photos and videos on social media. Write reflections on a blog. Tell others how you saw God at work. Share stories you heard of how God is being glorified in another culture. And if you haven’t already, ask your church leaders if you can make a presentation before the congregation.
Care for missionaries you know. These obedient servants are among the most silent suffering Christians in existence. So serve them and show your appreciation. E-mail or call periodically. Drop them a quick note letting them know your church is praying for them. Remember their anniversaries and children’s birthdays. Send them eBooks or electronic gift cards from Amazon or iTunes. Ask how you can serve and care for their personal needs.
Missions doesn’t happen without money, so contribute sacrificially to a missionary or ministry. Become a monthly supporter of missionaries in places your church is passionate about. God has called some of us to go and some of us to support, but he has called all of us to participate in missions. Maybe you’ve learned that mission trips aren’t for you. If you are not a goer, then become a sender.
There are thousands of books on missions. Consult your pastors or missionaries for recommendations of missionary biographies or books on missions theology (e.g., Introduction to Global Missions; Let the Nations Be Glad; The Missionary Call). Learn what Scripture says about missions. Read about missionary heroes from the past and learn about their obedience, their struggles, their service. Dive into modern missions blogs maintained by missionaries currently on the field. Learn what it really takes to be a full-time, cross-cultural servant.
Most missionaries use blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, YouTube, or another form of electronic media. It is easier than ever, then, to follow the regular activity of new missionary friends. Sign up to receive prayer letters via e-mail. Many missionaries communicate both the amazing and the mundane, the joys and the struggles. Social media has been an incredible benefit to missions in the past 10 years. Almost everywhere in the world missionaries have access to the Internet and are regularly sharing their experiences to bring greater awareness to believers and glory to Christ.
Start planning your next short-term trip. Get it on your calendar. Make annual trips a priority for your family and your church. The more direct exposure you have to missions, the better your understanding will be about God’s passion for the lost. Now that you have a bit of missions experience, ask your church leaders if you can help organize and lead the next trip. (Though be sure to not approach short-term missions the wrong way.)
Prayerfully discern if God is calling you to a longer-term commitment to the mission field. Many full-time missionaries initially developed a desire for missions on a short-term mission trip. You may have just met your first missionaries this summer. You now know that missionaries are not super-Christians; they are simply those willing to accept the call. Does God want you to cross a culture to spread his fame in that place? Ask him to make the answer clear.
Spreading the Vision
Not every church is involved in missions, and few Christians have ever participated in or supported missions. This is a tragedy. The reality is that this summer’s trip alone gave you more missions experience than most Christians have.
So use your experience and excitement to expand missions involvement in your family and church. Become zealous about reaching the lost through missions because God is zealous about reaching the lost through missions.