by Ron Leonard, Missions Pastor
Before you consider a mission trip, or even read further here, pray. Be prepared to go in your heart first.
An international mission trip should not be a "holy vacation," but should be your faithful response to God's command.
"Then He (Jesus) said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
- Matthew 9:37, 38
Do not be surprised that the Lord is calling you into the harvest! Here are a few reasons to go on an international mission trip:
1.) Go to witness.
Go in response to the Lord's command to "...be witnesses to Me... to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8). Go because He said so, and because the Gospel knows no national boundaries. Boldly proclaim the Good News to everyone regardless of cultural differences. As written in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek."
2.) Go to make disciples.
Jesus commissioned His disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." (Matthew 28:19). Teach the commands of Jesus to everyone who will follow after Him. Lead Christ-followers to lead others to follow Christ around the world.
3.) Go to love.
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39). Meet the needs of the hungry, sick and poor, sharing with them the love you have in Christ. Realize that your "neighbor" may live beyond your borders, just as in the account of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
When you go on an international mission trip, your eyes will be opened to God working outside your preconceived boundaries. You will experience His love revealed in the lives of people of a different culture but who have become followers of the same Christ. Your journey will change your life, and when you return you will be a witness of Jesus to others whom God will call.
Prepare yourself with prayer, and also with these practical steps: (1) have a valid passport, (2) keep up with immunizations, (3) set aside funds for the purpose of going and/or sending someone else if need be. If you have your passport, shots, and funds available, you will be ready to go when God provides the opportunity.
Check out the International Mission Board tabs for PRAY, GIVE and GO at imb.org.