If you want to make it as a missionary, prepare yourself.
If you want to solidify a bulletproof testimony as a faithful servant of God, prepare yourself.
If you want to have a productive trip without wasting time or money, prepare yourself.
If you want to make a real difference, you don’t need to pack extra tracts or start a new workout. Prepare yourself.
I can take you to the corner of FIU’s 7th floor library and show you the spot where I sat and first read Elizabeth Elliot’s “Through Gates of Splendor.” Where I first dreamed of glory. “Someday, I’ll be flying into the Amazon with a Bible and a message.”
But it was just a dream. No money, no experience, and no contacts left me disappointed. Until I prepared my self.
But not my packing list. I prepared my heart.
That opportunity to visit Ecuador presented itself. And when it did, I was ready. And they still remember us today.
So how do you do it?
Contents (Feel free to skip around)
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HEART FOR A MISSIONS TRIP:
1. Leave your burdens at home
On a missions trip packing list, plan to bring sunscreen, repellent, a portable pillow. But never bring your burdens.
What am I talking about? Well, what burdens do you normally carry with you?
- The nagging burden of Financial difficulty?
- The burden of weary eyes and a bad back?
- The burden of painful traumas and bad memories?
- The burdens of worry and fear?
Consider reading Max Lucado’s enlightening book “Traveling light”, designed to help you release the burdens you were never intended to bear.
Resolve to leave your issues home and fully focus on the mission at hand. That means that your insecurities take the back seat.
You never know, they might not be there when you return.
2. Know Why You Are Going
Rumor has it a pastor I know was on a missions trip when he received a call that his mother had died. He never made it to her funeral.
While involved in serving overseas, a verse embraced him and whispered in his ear: “Let the dead bury the dead.”
Extreme? That’s for you to decide.
But there is something undeniable: He knew why he went.
Ask yourself…why are you going? Is it to:
- Promote your church? (Someone once placed an immense banner advertising out church behind the podium at an international conference. My pastor winced the entire time)
- Gain Experience?
- Check off community service hours?
- Add a stamp to your passport?
You may have your reasons for this trip, but God has His purposes (1 Tim. 1:8-9). And what is God’s purpose? Read how Pastor Raul Arce summarizes and applies 1 Tim. 1:12-16 for you;
The purpose of your salvation is to change you and show you to the world as an example of His redemptive power so that the gospel can be seen through your life.
You are going on this trip to be an example of God’s life changing power. (How’s that for a mission statement?!)
One blogger wrote: “you are not to be an empty vessel going to be filled. You should be a full vessel going to be poured out.” Writing this on your bathroom mirror might remind you that your trip is bigger than building schools and teaching about Creation to children. It is about displaying God’s powerfully effective ability to change a sinner to a saint.
Know why you are going. Fill up on the Word, so that Christ can be poured out and shown to everyone.
3. Check Your Ego
“Missionaries: You are needed, but not indispensable”
Consider that statement in 2 parts:
YOU ARE NEEDED
In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul wrote about his desire to die and be with the Lord already (Phil. 1:22). However, he understood that they need him for their progress and joy in the faith, and so that in him they would have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of his coming to them again (Phil. 1:25-26).
This is a biblical fact. We need missionaries. You are necessary…
BUT NOT INDISPENSABLE
Did Jesus chase the many disciples that left him after his difficult words on eating flesh and drinking blood? (John 6:66-67)No. Instead, he turned to His remaining disciples and asked if they wanted to leave as well.
Did Malachi bury his hands in his face and accept the extermination of the Jewish race? No. He basically said to Esther: “Look, you can do something about this. But if you don’t, relief will come from somewhere else.” (Esther 4:13-14) The only thing in the story that would have changed would have been Esther’s name.
Here’s the lesson: If you don’t appreciate the privilege of walking with Christ in the mission field, you are free to go. We need missionaries, but if you don’t want to use that gifting, God can use someone else as quickly as he is using you.
Serve with gratitude, because you have much to be thankful for. Think about that, ok?
Be The Unforgettable Missionary
Missionary prep can be an overwhelming task. Insightful and faithful Bloggers like Sarita Hartz put together helpful material to make it all easier. And Oasis International Ministry has put together an incredibly illuminating free Missions course for all you Spanish speakers out there.
But regardless of the avenue you take to prepare, prepare your heart. I’ve lost sermon outlines, misplaced Bibles, been called on to speak at a church with 10 minutes notice, and have been thrown into evangelistic meetings with nothing but a handful of tracts and a bilingual bible. But somehow I always had something meaningful to say, because I had prepared my heart beforehand. And you will too, if you prepared yours.