The travel theme for Wheresmybackpack this week is: New
and the Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for Letsbewild.com is: New Beginnings!
I can’t think of any better representation, going into the New Year when people most like to set goals and plan resolutions, than to speak on this theme with the thought in mind of how all things can become new – in missions work.
You can follow the condensed work journey of our summer Virginia mission team below (from the beginning phases in the top left corner – when holes were first dug — to nearing completion of a new addition with roof and siding, a new handicapped ramp, an updated porch, and a matching fresh coat of paint) – accomplished during one hot July week by a team made up of one renovation contractor, a good plan, and a few willing hearts. (Did I mention they also raised the funds for the materials before leaving on their trip?)
Merriam-Webster defines MISSION as (I’ve abridged this):
obsolete : the act or an instance of sending
a : a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work
a body of persons sent to perform a service or carry on an activity
a : a specific task with which a person or a group is charged
I would suggest to you that a MISSION TRIP encompasses all of these definitions, beginning with no. 5 & not excluding no. 1, which states it is obsolete. Indeed, it is not.
A missionary, regardless of the term (mini-missions, micro-missions, or massive-missions) should feel called or led to do this work (#5). From there, others should be involved in sending out this individual to do that work (#1 & #2). From there, specific services and tasks should be an expectation of that work (#3 & #4).
In any case, from the moment that calling and the potential of a commissioning is set into motion, the Mission Trip should have an intentional and organized focus. (It should, in essence, have its own mission.)
Many people wonder why it’s important for mini-missionary trip partakers to travel in order to fulfill a mission. Let me answer by saying, “It’s not.” But for those who have not gone into the mission field permanently, it is much easier for them to remain intentional and focused when they’re not being drawn back into daily life responsibilities where they live and socialize. Once a person has learned to fulfill focused missions work, micro-missions in the community become much easier to accomplish in an intentional fashion – as an extension of that individual’s life.
One focus of the mission should be to promote involved service to others (performing a service promotes the idea of serving others).
Seeing beyond our individual selves helps us to partner with others to accomplish a common goal. This team building process promotes other-involvement. It helps us to see beyond ourselves. Essentially, the longer period of time that a missionary is able to get outside of his/her normal boundaries and focus on others (mini- or even massive-missions work) helps that individual spot micro-missions opportunities (and hopefully respond to them) on a daily basis.
Another focus should be to build one’s own cultural awareness, gaining new perspectives (rather than to create changes within that culture based upon the missionary’s perspective).
Great harm can be done when a missionary’s primary goal is to change the culture based upon his/her perception of ‘betterment.’ An innovation in one culture can serve to demolish another when appropriate needs are not considered. The missionary’s goal should be to go on an adventure to encounter the culture from a fresh perspective of understanding – to see beyond personal ways. Positive change can take place, over time, through multi-faceted understanding and other-involvement. The change may, however, ultimately occur in YOU!
This leads into the chief idea of spiritual awareness as a focus (or what we can achieve within ourselves but not for ourselves).
As part of definition #2, the main goal achievement rests in kingdom building – not our own kingdoms (as the focus is off of ourselves), but God’s Kingdom. Spiritual awareness (the fact that we’re spiritual beings within physical bodies) helps us see differently beyond ourselves. We’re able to learn to pull from our energy within to enact on achievement of greater goals outside of ourselves. Our reward for hard mission labor isn’t in the outer physical world, even though many of the fruits of the spiritual kingdom are displayed there for others to see the glory of God in them. Our treasures get stored up elsewhere.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Being involved in missions can create a new focus, a new vision…a new heart.