First of all, get ready for a life-changing experience. God WILL change you. It may not be the way you think, but trust me. He will.
First things first.
Pray. And get others praying for you as well.
Don’t wait until the time of your trip to start. Start now. Ask for others to pray with you through the fundraising, through the preparations, during the trip and even after. Actually, especially after.
More often than not, Satan reserves his toughest attacks for our return home. Don't forget that!
Create a prayer calendar for people who commit to pray.
If you know a tentative schedule for your trip, write up a list of what you plan to be doing each day and let others know how to pray for you. Consider the time difference; if you go to Africa and you have someone commit to pray for you everyday at lunch, remind them that for you, that’s the middle of the night. Ask them to pray for good rest and for the next day’s activities. Or perhaps ask a few prayer warriors to get up and pray for you in the middle of the night while you're right in the middle of the day's activities.
Ask For Support
Honesty time - this one is the hardest for me! I hate asking others to help financially when it’s for me.
Even if you can afford the trip on your own, reserve a portion for others to be able to help with.
The reason for this is two fold:
- It will increase your faith and allow God to work by providing the funds.
- It involves more people. Through their sponsorship, they are now going as well. They are a part of the team. It allows for the experience to effect them as well.
Go ahead and start reminding yourself that it’s a mission trip, not a vacation!
This is by far my most quoted statement when I lead mission teams.
- Be flexible. Allow God to move and don’t worry about a time-table so much. It’s better to be 5 minutes off schedule and to have given someone that extra attention than to stay on “track.”
- Journal. Bring it! And write in it. Every day if you can. Bring one small enough to carry around with you so that you can jot down names of people you meet and ways you can pray for them. That way, when you go back once you’re home, you will be able to refresh your memory with the details.
- Start every day in the Word.
And remember, when you start back home, there is still trip left!
The trip isn’t over.
It’s never over.
The location may change, but the goal is the same - to serve others and share the love of Jesus. It’s so easy to forget at home.
How to Deal with Guilt
This is something we talked a lot about when we were in India. Our trip leader said something that really resonated with me: He told us that guilt wasn’t from the Lord. Yes, it can seem unfair that He has blessed us with so much when there are people around the world with so little. But. But He has sent you to them to bless them with what He’s given you. And guess what? They’ve got something for you too. Oftentimes, the removal of technology and restaurants and fancy new clothes allows for our hearts and minds to be free from envy and greed. It allows more room for faith. And that’s something they can give you.
Together, we can use the things God has given us to encourage and help one another. What more beautiful picture of how God works. If we are obedient with what we have, we all have something. Peace. Faith. Health. But we have to obedient.
I once had a friend who was so inspired after our trip to Uganda that she made the decision that for every unecessary dollar she spent (trips to starbucks, dinners out, clothes she didn’t need, etc) she would commit that same amount to be put away for those in need. That's a huge commitment when you think about it.
How to Support Someone Else Going on a Mission Trip
Maybe you find yourself staying at home with your children while your husband travels for the sake of the gospel. Good for you! Thank you for making a way for them to go! Maybe it’s your friend or relative who’s going. Pray daily. Invest yourself in it as well through prayer and maybe even fasting. When they return, ask questions. Listen to what God taught them and pray for Him to help you experience it the way your spouse/friend did.
How to Live Missionally EVERY DAY.
Want some ideas of how to serve others in the name of Jesus daily?
Here are some ideas off the top of my head:
- Buy a meal for someone -- the person in line behind you at the drive through, a new family in a restaurant, the homeless. Find a way to do it in Jesus’ name, whether that be praying for that person (always a good idea) and doing the act anonymously, creating a card letting them know why you’ve bought their meal, or outright telling them that the Lord told you to bless them today.
- Show love in the small things -- smile at strangers. Ask how someone is and listen to their answer. Invest in conversations that we might otherwise rush through. Open doors for others. Do the unexpected.
- Serve those who need a little serving -- do you know a widow? A family with an illness? A new mom? Write them a card. Send them flowers. Make a meal. Wash their dishes. Pray for them.
These are just a few ideas. The what isn't as important as the why. A lot of times, you’ll feel God telling you to do something in the moment. Do it! What’s important is that you obey.
I’ll never forget the time I clearly heard God tell me to buy milk for the family in front of me who’s foodstamps didn’t cover the type of milk they chose. I didn’t do it. And the Lord convicted me hard. I cried several times that day over the missed opportunity. I don’t want to live like that - missing opportunities.
Let's start each day asking the Lord to open our eyes -- to be able to see what He sees. I want to see people the way He sees them, and for Him to give me opportunities to show them the love of God.
That’s being a missionary. That’s being a believer.
That’s living Life On a Mission.