Hi. Welcome back to (fill in your home city/town). On behalf of your life let me extend this invitation to return to clean water, flushable toilet paper, the internet, your wife/husband and kids, mortgage payment, broken ‘fridge, and general plethora of TV channels. You can now stop wearing your sloganized group t-shirt.
Its been about two months since you returned. You figured it out on your international trip, right? You live better than about everyone, everywhere. The gospel needs to be the first priority in your life. Dang it, you wish you could live in (that place you went) and help the (pick your people group) forever. You feel guilty about it all. Conflicted. But your Instagram pose with an orphan and those solid 58 likes will make that go away with time. You did all you could for those 7 days. And now that feeling of clean emotional mountain top air is gone. It is quite the letdown. Let me confess. Been there – been that.
From Haiti to Peru to Ecuador to Mexico and on. I’ve walked with the poorest of the poor. Returned to my home and struggled with the amount of wealth I have. Oh, by the way. I’m a pastor and my wife drives a 1999 min-van with 146,000 miles and no a/c as of last week. But, I have clothes, food, clean water at my disposal and kids who enjoy a good education. Plus, health care. I have it at my disposal. I, like you, struggle with my way of life juxtaposed to theirs.
So how do you survive that? Here is how:
1. Accept that it was about you when you signed up and its about you now. It’s ok.
Short term missions is about the missionary more than the mission trip. You change. Your eyes opened. You nose remains shocked. Your can’t believe how they live. Yet, now the poor inspire you which is why you feel so guilty.
Heres the remedy: “It’s okay for you to be changed by God while you are serving God.”
The worst condition for any one to live in is a life without Christ. You helped the earthly poor abroad, now help the spiritually poor locally. They live right freakin’ next door to you. So how about walking that 50 feet and inviting your neighbor to coffee, cookout or clean water so they can hear about your trip and the gospel that will save them. Stay gospel ready.
2. Accept that your life cannot be just like it was on the trip.
Your heart ached. Your checkbook lowered. Off you went. Praise God you followed after his heart. Seriously, what is the down side of following God when he is the reward we chase?
Heres the remedy: “When God changes your life he expects you to live changed.”
Why can’t this trip be longer? Why can’t my life be so simple like the mission trip life? Well, we all want a life where we see exotic culture, don’t have to pay any bills, welcomed like heroes in every village and feel closer to God than ever. It’s not this-life real. It’s a picture of heaven. It’s a moment at the top of the spiritual mountain. It’s an AMAZING TRAINING PROCESS you went through. But you live here. Spend the same amount of time praying, reading the bible and gathering with Christians who are focused on the mission of Jesus. Stay changed.
3. Don’t ever, ever, ever stop taking short-term mission trips.
We go on short-term trips to help the poor have clean water, set up churches, lead people to Jesus, bring gospel centered awareness to an issue in a part of the world that needs it. We also go short term so that more people will decide to stay long-term. Maybe that’s you? Maybe God is keeping you uncomfortable for these reasons:
- You’re supposed to sell everything and go
- You’re supposed to support missionaries or mission orgs… (that’s from God also)
- You’re supposed to do something with what you were taught by God in the poorest place you’ve ever stood.
Here’s the remedy:
Shut up and follow Jesus (that’s a different blog post btw). Seriously ;) Stop talking about the pain of a NASA sized re-entry and move on to the next great mission trip…your neighborhood. Stay on mission.
Jesus was asked what the greatest command is and this is what he answered:
Mark 12:30-31 (ESV)
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
So. Welcome home. Proud of you. God bless you. Now, get after it.
p.s. It was amazing, wasn’t it :)