Why I do short term mission trips!

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I know some in the youth ministry world are against short term mission projects.  They say things like the people don’t need your help, or if you don’t have a long term relationship nothing really changes.  Going to some far off place is nice but you have needs in your community that should be served first. I have a different view on these types of trips.

About a week ago I spent 8 days with students, parents and 300 other kids I had never met before to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the community of Prince George, Virginia. This is my 12th week long mission trip as a leader. I did 4 as a high school student and one trip for 3 weeks in high school as well. I can say without a doubt I am a week long mission junkie.  I love it and honestly the couple of summers I didn’t get to do it my whole year felt off somehow.  You may be thinking how can one week of service really do that.

For the last 13 years I have gone on these trip through an organization called Group Mission trips.  They are a fantastic organization to work with mostly because they do two things really well.  First the work is all set up.  They screen residents, plan the jobs we will be doing, and provide directions for all the projects.  This is no small task.   I have never in 13 years had an issues with work not needing to be done or trivial.  We make a real difference in the lives of those people we come in contact with.  Second they help my students and I get out of our comfort zone through breaking us up into crews of kids we have never met before.  It is a brilliant system because if doesn’t just get you to meet other students. By taking you out of your comfort zone it helps students and adults to have confidence to get to know others in their own youth group.   I cant say enough about the system and what they do.

Lastly Mission trips like this put everything into perspective for me as a follower of Jesus.  You see when you get to know a resident for a week you get to know them and their life story if you are willing to listen.  You often hear stories of brokenness, death, and sin.  You meet people who have never had anyone to listen to them, people who have never heard anyone care for them for no other reason that this guy named Jesus.  It is truly a powerful experience.  These experiences help put life in perspective for me.  It helps me walk back into my community and have empathy for my neighbor.  They help me see all people as if they were Jesus.

So today as you walk around, take the time to hear your neighbor, hear the person who is next to you in line at the grocery story and care for them.  Ask how you can help.  Share about this Jesus guy who helps you get through this life.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 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, 36 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.’

Matthew 25:34-35 NIV

 

 

Generosity in the Church never ceases to amaze me.

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Over the 12 plus years I have been serving in ministry I have been amazed by many different peoples generosity.  This Sunday was one I really needed.  You see this past weekend I was sick.  I mean dog tired sick. I have run my body ragged between a trip to Disney, VBS, Hosting a day camp and strategic planning.  My body has literally been saying to me “Steve just STOP IT or else”.  I was sick all weekend and Sunday morning I just wanted to lay in bed.  I had been literally coughing all night and hadn’t slept except for about 2 hours from 8 AM-10 AM. I was miserable when I walked into St. John but I was there to help lead the service.  In all honesty I should have stayed home, but God had another plan.

To open the service I made a few announcements.  The most important one to me was a need we had for donations for a couple of our students who needed help to be able to attend the mission trip this summer. Throughout the service Jesus gave me the voice and allowed me to avoid coughing uncontrollable during the prayers and other parts I had to lead.  It was truly a miracle that I made it through the service. Praise God He is faithful to me and got me to the other side so I could see His great goodness. I am so glad I was there because I got to see Jesus move.

At the end of the service I had three people I come forward and ask what they could do to help.  One even wrote a check for the amount we needed for two of the students.  I was amazed.  I know I shouldn’t have been amazed but God brought those people forward to help reach a need for our young people.  I should never be surprised by the generosity of Gods people for His mission.  I am so glad Jesus brought me to that moment.  I got to see Him work.

Today as you may be feeling down, or tired, or broken be reminded that Jesus is continuing to work in the lives of His people. He is working to bring about His good and we are blessed often when we can see it. My prayer for you today is that you see Jesus work his miracles working in your lives.