“When was the last time any of my churches organized a mission trip?” I wondered to myself thinking back to a sermon more than five years ago in a former church about the group that just got back from one of the Spanish-speaking countries a month or so before we stumbled across it. “Figures, the one time they actually choose a county with a language I speak, it’s before I even get a chance to join.”
Granted, I know enough Spanish to know that most Spanish-speaking countries were founded with Catholicism being the dominant and still widely practiced religion today. It doesn’t make sense to try to convert Christians from one form of the faith to another, when ultimately a great number of both of us are on the straight and narrow – even if it just looks different from the other’s perspective.
Actually, I’d prefer to leave the whole conversion aspect of mission trips up to the people that are trained for that sort of thing. I’d rather just serve people, help them out because every now and then that’s a little more useful in the immediate future than a theological conversation. That and and public school doesn’t lend itself to really translating Christianese into Spanish.
I still think the churches offer too few mission trips and too far in between them as it is. It’s not a cheap thing – to have the logistics, people, a plan, and safety as well as passports, shots, – it’s not a cheap thing to save souls, provide in the aftereffects of a disaster, or build a hospital or school, dig a well, or do anything else in the name of Christ. But if you aren’t on a mission trip, you should at least be planning and saving up for one at all times. If your church fails to do so, it may grow complacent.
After all, other bigger churches are doing twice as much. Other bigger churches can afford to send twice as many people. Other churches have more people that are the right kind, doctors, nurses, and experts. Why should a smaller, poorer church put so much effort into something so very likely to fail? This is where I think our tendency to go it alone undermines the Great Commission. We should be able to work with the church next door to make a change in our community – not in a who’s first or who’s best contest, but by sharing resources we can make a difference where neither of us would be able to succeed alone.
But then again, Jesus had one of those parables about sheep and goats that had a section like this:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Doing a mission trip is doing the little things, and not just in another country, another state, or another city, but where you live and where you work where you are at this very moment and where you’ll be moments from now. It’s not for some bigger church over there. It’s not for some richer church over here. It’s for you, too.