January 29, 2018

It’s Monday . . . again . . . and I love it!!
I want to talk today a little about sharing our faith in the context of location. I have taken many mission trips over the years though only in recent years to foreign countries. For years I led Youth on mission trips all across the US, primarily into inner cities. We would go in and share primarily through Backyard Bible Clubs but one of the requirements for going on the trip was that each youth had to be able to share their faith and usually we used a method called the Wordless Book. It is an easy and effective tool especially when used with children. These trips were always the most impactful event for our young people during all my years of fruitful Youth Ministry. More than Wednesday nights or Camps or DNow’s or Winter Retreats, the single biggest thing that we did which impacted their lives the most were inner city mission trips. Now it was true that when they came back home those experiences did not translate equally into their environment and culture where they lived. They did not share their faith as much as they did while on the mission trip. They were not as passionate about their relationship with God a few months after returning as they were when they were on the trip. But having said that, it was still the most influential thing we did as a Youth Ministry. You can ask any of those young people, who are now adults, and they will agree.
So I began to think about those Mission Trips and the ones I have been involved in the last few years. Why are we more bold there than here? Are those trips worth the time and money? How has my life changed or has it as a result of going? Let me try to lay out a few things I believe God has shown me over many years of doing very different types of mission trips.
First, it is a no brainer to say that when we go we almost always find ourselves in a culture very different from where we came. We also find ourselves far away from people who know us and might judge us differently. We also find ourselves in a situation where our primary task every day is to be a witness for Christ, unlike at home where we may be called upon to work at a job or care for a family and so on. We also find ourselves in a situation where the positive peer pressure is in effect and we don’t want to be the missing link in reaching people and so we go out and we meet the challenge no matter how uncomfortable we may be. Whereas at home we don’t find most of these things happening in our normal walk through life. We often aren’t challenged and we aren’t presented with ready-made witnessing opportunities and we don’t feel the pressing need to share our faith and we are simply too busy and too caught up with normal everyday life that we simply don’t witness like we do when we go . . . on a mission trip.
So what does this mean for us? Are mission trips just fake spiritual experiences that are mainly just fun? I am here today to tell you the answer that I have seen in dozens of lives would be an unequivocal and resounding “NO”. I have seen countless lives changed and changed for good because of a mission trip. Many can point back to that time when God spoke to them and they saw Him move and it impacted them from that day forward. In fact, I have seen very few who have gone and not been significantly impacted. So you might say, “Well why don’t they share their faith more when they come back like they did there?” Let me first say, read the above. It’s different. It’s not as urgent. Everyday life gets us distracted. And the fire is often not fanned as much as it should be.
So what do we do? Do we just not go? Absolutely we MUST GO! And I would even submit that we should go MORE!! If people’s lives are being impacted when they go doesn’t it make sense that we would want more of that and not less? And I would submit that EVERYONE who can MUST GO! I don’t mean around the world necessarily but join us at a Block Party. Help us find new ways that we can go, that YOU can go and participate in and where you can reach out and begin to share your faith in an environment that may be outside your comfort zone. I can tell you now that every mission trip I have gone on from Houston to San Antonio to Atlanta to Kansas City to Panama to Poland to Greece and more, I have never come back less excited and passionate about Jesus . . . always more. I was usually exhausted but on fire.
What are YOU doing? Are you standing back throwing stones or sowing negative seeds? Let me challenge you. GO. You may think its all fun and games but let me promise you it is never easy. Does the environment make it more conducive to being able to share your faith? Absolutely. But it is not easy. But it starts the process of making witnessing a part of our lives. Witnessing should not be something that is difficult and painful but at first it often is and for some it will always be that way. The goal is for it to become as natural as breathing but even if we don’t get to that point wherever we get to will be farther down the road than most believers are. Most are sitting on the sidelines and never share their faith with anyone. Let mechallenge you to change that in 2018. Let us help you change that. Not only do we have opportunities to go but we are also introducing opportunities to be discipled in 2018. Talk to Hope Blair if you are interested in being a part of our discipling ministry this Spring. Let 2018 be the year where you break out of the rut you are in and experience God like never before in your life. Then you will be the kind of person who is a Life-breather into those around you!!
I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?
P.S. I heard a radio show that talked about how addicting Facebook can be, so in regard to last week’s blog . . . make sure you use Facebook and don’t let it use you!
P.P.S. If you missed the Grammys last night ummm you didn’t miss much. I didn’t watch much but I did see this tweet from Sarah Spain, a sports journalist, during the show. She said, “I never feel older than when I’m watching the Grammys.” I second that. And Sarah is a LOT younger than me!