Something that's been weighing heavily on my heart lately is all of the posts floating around the Internet lately slamming missions, missionaries and short term mission trips. There have been blog posts written, books written, as well as articles and editorials. I will admit, some of these writings have had some valid points and some have brought up some areas of concern that I believe are wise to examine. But at the same time I think we have to be very careful to not let a few peoples thoughts or opinions influence us more than the word of God does.
While I am sure there quite possibly are those out there who go on mission trips for the wrong reason, and while I am sure there could be a few missionaries out there who sit around and do nothing - I am even more sure that the Lord realized we humans wouldn't get it right every time. And yet, He still commanded us to go and make disciples in all nations. And not only does he command us to go-these are among the last recorded words of Jesus.
My biggest concern with slamming mission trips and missionaries in general is that many people will read these articles and then simply use it as an excuse to do nothing- which is exactly what Satan wants.
We have all heard it before "Don't give money to the homeless guy on the side of the road because he will use it on alcohol. " And you know what- He just might.
But what if, just what if, He really was in need and you turned your back on Jesus in disguise?
And, what if we stand before God one day guilty of clinging to safe and clinging to the almighty dollar-over clinging to the word of God?
Because you see, God doesn't hold YOU accountable for what the homeless guy chooses to do with the help you gave him, just as he doesn't hold YOU accountable for the missionary that doesn't save the world. But, He does hold you accountable for your response to His commands.
Being on the mission field first hand, one thing I can tell you is that I know a lot of missionaries who do work long hours in often times dangerous situations. Missionaries who have hearts of gold and who serve the Lord with everything they have. Missionaries who give and give and give and expect nothing in return.
Furthermore, I have served along side many short term mission teams who labor from sun up to sun down. They sacrifice and fund raise to come and serve. They open doors of opportunity and get things done in a weeks time that would have taken a single missionary months to do by themselves. They bring their gifts and talents and use them freely. They choose to come and love on people who can give nothing in return- while investing in the lives of the people in the time they are given. They show them the love of Christ first hand by showing them that someone cares. These teams choose to spent money working to improve someone else's quality of life instead of choosing to spend money on a luxurious vacation. They dig ditches and get dirty. They get blisters, sunburns and backaches and smile all the way through it out of their love for the Lord.
I have heard people ask "couldn't the money they spent going been better used by just sending a check instead?" The problem with this is- I think we often miss the point and limit God when we do. God doesn't need our money. God is about relationship and He is about our hearts. My life was changed on a short term mission trip. Maybe the first trip I went on was a little more about me than it should have been... but God knows what we need even before we do. He is so much bigger than we give him credit for. Through that trip if even one person felt the love of God through me and knew that they mattered through a single smile, a pair of shoes or a hug- then it wasn't a waste. My eyes were opened in ways that wouldn't have happened otherwise. Through that growth, we went on to adopt more children and eventually go onto the field full time.
Because of that, today God used us by connecting us with another awesome missionary coupled with the combined efforts of a short term mission team. Through this- a family experienced the love of God when their precious daughter received her new wheelchair. (And what you couldn't know just by looking at this picture is that the guy in the green shirt grew up in an orphanage himself. How cool is our God?)
I wish you could have heard her belly laugh, seen her joy first hand, and experienced JESUS the way we did.
I wish you could have been there to see people from different backgrounds and cultures come together....
because I know without a doubt those little faces watching- saw HIM.
And the mother who has been carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders in trying to care for a daughter with special needs had tears streaming down her face- not only because someone cared about her precious daughter for the first time-but because she realized that HER life was VALUABLE to HIM.
And when we bowed our heads and praised His work- HE WAS GLORIFIED.
In a small dirty village full of garbage and poverty- Jesus was at work.
Maybe we didn't solve the worlds problems- and maybe we weren't meant to. But we did show one beautiful little girl who has spent her entire life in a tiny tin home with dirt floors and little else that SHE IS WORTH more than she will ever know to the King of Kings.
So much so that He was willing to die-
regardless of the imperfect missionary who came to let her know.
And I know if you had seen what I saw today-
if you had been there,
you would understand just why God is all about missions.
Because even if I am only able to bring ONE person to Christ as a missionary, I know, without a doubt, that the Lord was gloried when that one lost sheep was found.
Because the best part is...God can use that one person to influence another and another and another... and the ripple effect continues on...
Missions is the heart of God.
It is His plan.
And regardless of what opinions man has- regardless of how we mess things up and get it wrong-
He is on His thrown.
I don't claim to have all the answers and maybe I am not supposed to. Who would want to serve a God who is only as smart as I am anyway? Maybe God just wants to know if out of our love for Him we are willing-
TO MAKE HIM KNOWN.