May 9, 2016

Good Monday morning!! You most likely won’t see this blog for a few weeks so just FYI. Next week at this time we will be an Amsterdam on our way to Poland. We hope to post some updates on Facebook and I might even be able to pass along an update or two directly to you via this email.
I have been doing Mission Trips for many years but most of them have been mainly in the United States. When I was a Youth Pastor we took a good sized group every year on a Mission Trip. We went to inner cities in Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta, St. Louis, and others. One year here we took a group to California on mission. But mostly over the years I always felt like Mission Trips, especially to foreign countries, were for other people. If it was in the US where I could do that fairly cheap and still minister to needy people then I was in on that. And I do believe God wants us to start right where we are and share the gospel. We don’t “need” to go on a Mission Trip to follow God’s call on our life to reach the lost. We can do it right where we live. No doubt. 100%. But let me tell you today why my opinion changed about Mission Trips and why going is just as important as praying and giving.
A few years ago I read David Platt’s book called “Radical.” I would highly recommend each of you reading that. It impacted my life in a dramatic way. I began to see “going” differently. Before, I had always thought, why should I spend a couple of thousand dollars or more just to go for a week or two when I could just give that money to “missions” and it would do more good. But my perspective changed as a result of reading David’s book and after seeking God’s wisdom on the subject. I realized I had been neglecting something that God wanted in my life to grow me and to use me. Going, as much as we are able, is now something I believe God wants for all of us. Let me share with you how this impacted what my goals are now Mission trips and for this trip in particular.

First, our primary goal still remains to “share the gospel” with anyone and everyone. We are on this coming trip to make the name of Jesus Christ known to everyone we come in contact with. Period. But I now see that “going” can have an even bigger impact than the primary mission. There are probably a lot of people that could accomplish this primary mission better than me. But, there are also a couple of secondary objectives we hope to accomplish as well.

Second, we hope to be able to minister to and encourage the missionaries who are already on the field. Did you know that many missionaries get very lonely and discouraged and even question their calling to the mission field? Our goal is to be that encouraging voice from God in their lives and in their calling. We plan to impact missionaries in not just Poland but also in several other locations. As we travel through Amsterdam going and coming we plan to meet up with a missionary family there and do what we can to minister to them. Each situation will be different. For this family we are considering taking care of their kids one night and paying for them to go for a night out. We will be ministering in Rome as well to a missionary who recently lost his wife and has several small children. I will be preaching there but hopefully we can encourage him and ease some sense of loneliness he has. We also will be doing this same ministry in London to a missionary couple there and possibly one other location. So this is a key objective for us in going. And I believe God is going to use this part of our trip in a powerful way.

Third, going on a Mission Trip changes us. It does. When we went to Panama last year we came back different. In going to Poland our prayer is that God will use it to renew our vision, not only around the world, but also right here where we live. Our prayer is that God will help renew that calling to reach people right here in Texas. Most of the time the biggest impact when we go is on us. We are going prepared for God to move in our hearts and we fully expect Him to. And so you can see that though someone else might be able to more effectively communicate their faith, if I don’t go then I won’t receive the blessing that God has planned for me. I believe God wants to use that in my life; to change me, to grow me. And then hopefully that translates into a better Pastor for many of you. I know I have never gone on a Mission Trip and NOT come back more excited about what God is doing and about what He wants to do through me.
So thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your gifts. And as you will hear me say when we come back . . . I want YOU to begin praying about the possibility of going on mission . . . SOON. I know some of you may not be in a position where your health will let you go and so you keep right on praying and giving and God will bless that and He will bless you for doing all you can. But there are others who can go. And you need to go. Trust me when I say that it will impact your life and your ministry here. Your church needs you to go. Begin praying NOW!