Why Missions Trips Matter

I doubt very many people would disagree with the fact that missions trips are important. They are a positive experience for everyone involved. They are often used of God to change the course of a believer’s life and ministry. But let’s face it: planning and executing a missions trip is a lot of work.

I believe there are many pastors and youth pastors that love the thought of taking a group from their church to visit a missionary on the field. But the thought of planning, organizing, fund raising, and doing everything else is just too much to add to their plate. It’s a good idea … for the future.

If that is you, let me take a moment to share why missions trips matter. More importantly, why they matter enough to not put them off. They are far too important. Our latest group trip to the Peten jungles of Guatemala reminded me of a few things:

 

  1. Church members will be revived. Our team of twelve included a deacon, choir members, teachers, an usher, family members, a college student, and a teen. God stirred their hearts for the kingdom of God, to get out of their comfort zones, and to have a renewed passion for the lost in their community. What church does not desperately need this?
  2. Missionaries will be encouraged. By the providence of God, we were in Guatemala at a moment when our host missionary family was facing a serious ministry challenge. At one moment we were surrounding the missionary wife praying for her husband’s life and protection! Beyond that, they had gotten some disturbing news from “back home.” This young family was faithfully serving their Lord in a remote part of the world, sacrificing more than we will ever know, and we were able to be up close to love them in a personal way. What missionary does not desperately need this?
  3. Pastors will be refocused. On a personal note, each time I am privileged to visit a missionary on the field, God refocuses my heart on what is most important in ministry. I preach with more passion. I lead with more clarity. I see the “forest” instead of just the “trees.” It makes me wonder how I could have gotten so distracted. What pastor does not desperately need this?

 

I believe missions trips ought to be an ongoing part of the ministry life of a local church. Don’t just dream about it – do something. Contact a missionary. Add it to your calendar. Post a sign-up sheet. Prepare for God to change your life and your church.

Enquiring of God in Prayer: When Your World Comes Crashing Down

I Samuel 30:1-8

 

Never is our faith put to the test more than when we face tragedy (tornados, fires, death). And the more unexpected the tragedy, the more it exposes what is truly in our heart, where we immediately turn. We certainly see that in the life of David.

During the time of David’s life in which he was fleeing from King Saul, he spent a year and four months in the land of the Philistines. He was given the town of Ziklag, where he and his troops set up residence, where their wives and kids lived as the men were off to battle. One day David and his men returned home to find the shock of their lives.

 

Tragedy At Home (vs. 1-5)

The soldiers approach their hometown to find it in smoldering ruins, and their wives and children gone. The Amalekites had burned down the city, and captured everyone present, including David’s two wives. They had lost everything they cherished. Not only did they experience what people experience after a tornado or house fire, but they didn’t know what this brutal enemy had done to their wives and daughters. Surely, they feared the worst.

These hardened soldiers begin to cry out and weep and it doesn’t stop until literally “they had no more power to weep” (vs. 4). They had no strength left in them to cry any more. They were broken.

 

Turning On David (vs. 6a)

That was a heavy enough burden to carry. But things got worse for David. The men who followed David turned on him. Their grief and mourning led them to direct their anger at their leader. Now they wanted David dead. They wanted someone to blame, and the leader is the easiest target.

The Bible says David became “greatly distressed.” He was under pressure, literally cramped and bound, emotionally. Feeling the weight of the world crashing down on him. Here is where we see the response of a “man after God’s own heart.”

 

Turning To God (vs. 6b-8)

David turned to the One who identifies Himself in Scriptures as “the God of all comfort” (II Cor. 1:3-4). When David was broken-hearted by the loss of his home and family, when he felt betrayed and unfairly accused, he literally found strength in his relationship with God. Gk. chazak – to strengthen, be courageous, grow firm, be resolute. He encouraged himself by turning to God. But it didn’t stop there.

David enquired of God as to what step to take next. He consults Abiathar the priest to ask God, “Should we go after the Amalekites?” As a husband and father, the natural instinct is to respond in anger, to seek revenge, to try and rescue your family (if they are still alive). But even those God-given emotions have to be yielded to the will of God. Sometimes we can do something honorable, but in a dishonorable way. We need to be sure that even in the midst of tragedy, we enquire of the Lord and seek His counsel and direction. David did, and God gave him the green light.

 

As you read the rest of the story you learn that David and the 600 men with him pursue the Amalekites, overtake them, slaughter the army all night long, and amazingly rescued every single thing or person that had been stolen (vs. 19). By turning to God for comfort, strengthen, and direction, David also restored his credibility and trust as a leader. Even today, when our world comes crashing down, we must be resolved to enquire of God in prayer.