I remember the day.
I remember where I was sitting.
I remember what was happening.
I remember the exact moment God seared the nations on my heart.
God wrecked my pre-established life plans at the 2010 Passion Conference in Atlanta.
As I listened to Louie Giglio and a panel of other influential Christian leaders, God pulled me another step outside of myself and opened my eyes to see more of His heart for the world than ever before.
I applied for my passport the day I came home.
Two months later, I was on a plane headed to Ecuador to share the Gospel in my first overseas experience during a spring break trip with my university’s Baptist campus ministry.
And now, six years later, God has taken me on short-term trips to six countries on four different continents for the purpose of serving His global church and joining with them to bring more worshippers to His throne.
There have been some extraordinarily awesome trips and some excruciatingly painful ones. Some that seemed to be led by the Holy Spirit and others that seemed more like we humans were producing more trouble than triumph.
Those trips have been with different organizations and different leaders and, taking what little I’ve experienced, I have set out to write the five things I would most like to tell those who have humbly taken me and others abroad for the sake of God’s name among the nations.
1. Thank you for loving the God of the nations and taking us to Him in the world.
Thank you for being mindful of the reality that “The church of God does not have a mission in the world. The God of mission has a church in the world” (Christopher Wright), and teaching us to join Him in His activity around us, whether in our neighborhoods or across the world. Your love and zeal to make Jesus’ name hallowed on earth as it is in heaven spurs us on and creates an eagerness to follow you as you follow Him.
2. Thank you for recognizing we signed up for a mission trip, not a vacation.
We’re here to serve God and people. To sightsee and explore are perks, not necessities, so thank you for stewarding our schedule to maximize the limited time we’re with the beautiful people in that area. Adventure is what you make it and we can always return if we want to see the sights. Thank you for focusing our hearts and attention on the kingdom and God’s glory and not just landmarks and geography.
3. Thank you for not acting like you have it all together.
We can relate to struggle so when you let us see that it immediately connects our hearts with yours. On the other hand, when you act like you have it all together and nothing bothers you, we can’t relate to that pseudo-perfectionism. In fact, it just causes more division between us. Clothing yourself in humility and allowing us to see the real you—including the times before and during our trip when you don’t know what’s happening any more than we do—helps us 1) see Christ and 2) know how to pray for you, and we desperately want to help you fight the fight of faith as much as you want to help us do the same. We don’t need you to have it all together. We need you to show us Christ. Thank you for recognizing you do that more in weakness than strength.
4. Thank you for asking us how we’re doing and what we’re seeing God do.
It’s always a gift when someone asks those questions. Thank you for giving us that gift and letting us use our voices. And when you actually take what we say and implement it, you empower us to continue using our gifts not just for the Lord but also for the team (which, in turn, honors the Lord). Thank you for giving up control and delegating, letting us share the burden and feel the responsibility and weight of the mission we are called to. Thank you for remembering we might process things differently than you or others on the team and for listening to us and seeking out how to best utilize and get the most out of our strengths.
5. Thank you for all the things you do that no one but God sees.
From ordering plane tickets to organizing communication with contact people to corralling the team in airports and buses to diligently praying over us and the work: you are so appreciated. We don’t fully understand how much effort it takes to do even a weeklong trip across an ocean (or state). I’m sorry for all the questions we asked that would have been answered if we had just let you continue talking. Thank you for your patience with us and for the hours of work and sacrifice that you have made for the glory of God, the smoothness of our trip, and the joy of those we’re going to serve alongside. Your grace-driven labors have never been wasted or in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
For more interactive content and resources like this, download the free July/August RTM Magazine.