This summer is almost over and there are many who have traveled the nation and the world on short-term mission trips. We have had incredible experiences partnering with other ministries, churches, and organizations. We’ve made new friends, new prayer partners, and hopefully, everyone including those who hosted groups has changed and grown closer to what God intends for our lives.
There are short-term missions team members that are now settling back into the comforts of home and a rhythm of life that includes school, work, and family or as some would say, “back to real life.” There are missionaries, ministries, and churches that are cleaning up from the summer, and settling into a new rhythm of life for the fall as well.
The high of the trip is beginning to wear off and we begin to forget the things we learned and we may even forget the people we met. If we were to look back at our journals and read them, have we carried through on our promises to God, to our selves, to others?
But let us remember some important things as we move forward with our lives back at home.
Service is NOT an event or a trip, it’s a way of life.
One of the downfalls of a short-term mission trip is that we can easily make serving others into an event or a one-time act. Serving others can mean something we do over there, or at a certain day of the week, or at a homeless shelter in my community on Saturdays (all of which is great). Service is a way of life. It is how we see the world. Service is thinking of others before our selves and then acting that way. Service is loving others as Jesus loved us, sacrificially.
Pause for a moment and think about all the people in your life at home (write them down if you need to), your family members, your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends, your “enemies.” How can you serve them TODAY?
The attitude of service and loving others should not end the last day of our trip, nor should it only be an event that we do. The same attitude we had while on the trip should be in every part of our lives. “What can I do to help?” “What need in my world can I meet?” “How can I love others practically and tangibly?” “Who is hurting around me?”
The people you served on your trip still want to partner with you. The trip you were on and the people you served was “real life.” Your experience on your trip wasn’t fake, it is as real as you reading this right now. Actually, it may be more real-life than life back at home. I hope you had an experience that re-adjusted your life and helped you see what really matters, and who God is in your life and in this world. The people you served and loved on your trip are still there. I remember thinking this one time while at home after one of our trips. Many with the same struggles they were facing when you were there.
We had served people who lived on the old Tijuana dump, some of the poorest of the poor in northern Baja. We had cooked meals and helped with some basic construction while on the trip. One day thinking about the trip I was reminded that the people we loved and served that week were still there. This morning they were still thinking about where their next meal was coming from, where will they get clean water. I was reminded of the ministry that we partnered with that was working to meet the daily needs of these families, providing food, water, and emergency needs of the families.
Though our trip is over, our partnership with the ministries, churches, and organizations should not be over. Continue to serve them even at home. How?
– Email them and see if they have any current needs you can help with.
– Spread the word with your friends and family about the ministry.
– Did you make any promises to them while there that you need to follow through with?
– How can you be praying for them right now?
– How can your church or group continue to support them throughout the year?
As we enter back into a new rhythm for our lives back at home, understand that we went on a trip, God has called us to live on mission EVERY day, not just that one week in the summer or that one day at the soup kitchen. He has called us to love our neighbor, every day. He has called us to love our enemies and pray for them, every day. He has opened your eyes to how big He is and His work in other parts of the world and has invited you to join Him.
Yes, your trip is over, but the way of serving and loving others in real, tangible, and practical ways is not over.