“Pastor, why do I need to spend over $2000.00 and fly all the way across the world when there is so much ministry that needs to be done right here in our city?” This was the question that was posed to me by a sincere church member who was counting the cost of going on our first international mission trip as a church. Some people that ask this question are simply looking for an easy way out or just want to argue, but I knew the heart of this church member and his question was a sincere one. I gave him an answer and I do not remember exactly what it was but it did not feel sufficient. I was haunted by the question for weeks. I had been in other countries and I knew in my heart that there was a great need for all who could go, to go, but I was having a problem articulating exactly why. The man who asked the question did end up going on the mission trip and God used him in a powerful way. Our church has taken international trips to Haiti and to Argentina. God did what God does when we step out on faith. He showed up and changed lives. While it is fresh on my mind I would like to articulate a bit more clearly 13 reasons why I believe every Christian who is physically able should attempt to go on an International Mission Trip. If you are a pastor or a leader who gets asked the question that I was asked perhaps this will help you articulate it more clearly.
1) You understand the beauty of the body of Christ in a way you could not unless you went – You cannot get the full picture of what a blessing it is to be part of the global body of Christ until you have the chance to meet people that are totally different than you in almost every way. You have an instant bond because of Jesus. In both Argentina and Haiti we met people that we had no knowledge of before we left and now they are family. This is because of our bond in Christ.
2) Americans have a significant impact on the world that we do not have in our hometowns – Many cultures in the world look at Americans as some sort of novelty. They are very intrigued by us. They believe we are all rich, which compared to them, most of us are. It makes a huge impact when you tell lost people in another culture that you spent a lot of money to come to their country because you love them and desire to tell them about Jesus.
3) Going on an International Mission trip gives you a small picture of what it means to suffer for Christ – While I would not call a mission trip suffering in the sense that you are dealing with daily persecutions, you do get a small picture of what it means to be uncomfortable for the cause of Christ. You know you may get sick. You are sick for Jesus. You know you will be extremely tired. You are tired for Jesus. You may suffer financially. You are giving to go tell others about Jesus. You know you will be out of your area of comfort. You are uncomfortable for Jesus. While this may seem like a small thing it is big for comfortable American Christians.
4) It Humbles You – Humility is one of the greatest Christian virtues. We are all naturally inclined to pride. Philippians 2 tells us we are to follow the example of the humility of Christ. It brings great humility in your life when you see how little you do with how much you have. Then you have the opportunity to see how much other believers do with how little they have. Truly humbling.
5) It gives you a passion for the lost world – In America we are so rich and happy it seems that no one needs Jesus anymore. When you go to another country it is very refreshing to see that the world has a hunger for Christ that America has lost.
6) It gives you a chance to expand your kingdom influence – You will meet lifelong friends in another country. Because of the expansions of technology and social networking cites like Facebook you can have continued influence on those you meet. You can even disciple new believers from afar.
7) It serves as a great encouragement to the church you are serving alongside in a foreign country – The churches we worked with were so blessed that we came to minister alongside them. We were able to do things they as a church would not have been able to do without us. The church was totally blessed by our coming and it provided great encouragement.
8) It will deepen your love for the Lord – Everything about all you do on the trip will make you love and appreciate Jesus more.
9) It will clarify your calling – It has been my experience that each time I go on an international trip God speaks to me more clearly than any other time. Perhaps this is because your singular focus is on doing His will for an entire week or more.
10) It will give you a chance to experience the power of the Gospel in a new way – Since people are more open to the Gospel in other countries you have the privilege of seeing more people submit to Jesus than in the states. This reminds you of the power of the Gospel and how the simple message still transforms lives.
11) You will become a family with the team in which you serve alongside – We took a team of eight from the church in which I pastor. We left as friends and we came back as family. You will laugh, cry, worship, pray, eat and sleep together. You will never look at the people you go with the same again. You will always share the common bond of life change.
12) Your faith will grow – Every step you take to go on an international mission trip will force you to grow in your faith. Most of us do not have two to four thousand dollars laying around to spend on a mission trip. Money, safety, and the unknown are all areas that you must trust God with.
13) JESUS SAID GO!!! – The great commission has never changed. Jesus told us to tell the world about Him. If they do not hear they will go to hell. If we believe this then we MUST be compelled to go!