Here’s a confession.
Returning from a mission trip sends me into a period of slight depression and frustration. Don’t worry. I’ll be OK … eventually.
I love mission trips. My brain enjoys the strategic planning, vision casting, and spiritual formation. I love getting to know teams members on a meaningful spiritual level and seeing them grow and stretch into more mature faith. Beyond that, seeing God show up and work in and through team members is beyond words. I will NEVER get tired of it.
Yet, once a trip is over you repack your bags and head home. Soon afterwards you encounter the other stuff that comes with church. Some people are cranky. Some people push their preferences rather than promoting the gospel. There are the committed, the half-hearted, and the disconnected. There are meetings and more meetings.
It leaves me a little frustrated and longing for another mission trip.
That’s an oversimplification and perhaps a glorification of mission trips. Yet, much of what happens on mission trip is the content of the real church.
Let me explain with pictures and a few comments …
I spent Spring Break as part of a team of 8 on the border of Texas and Mexico in a colonia of Penitas, Texas. Yes, that’s a selfie stick and yes I was the only male alongside 7 women. Each of us heard God’s call to serve and preach in the name of Jesus. Each of us brought our God-given gifts and served.
Here’s the house our church built last year when we brought a team of 39. It was fantastic to know the family is doing well. Maintaining and strengthening relationships is what its all about. The family is overwhelmed with all that God has done for them.
I taught a class in the morning on relationships (5 Love Languages, Boundaries) to a group of 18 women. Through the help of a translator I was able to connect with this group in a way I never thought possible. They soaked it up and interacted and provided their own input and insights. It was an amazing demonstration of God’s ability to break down all sorts of barriers.
During the class our team served the 18 women by taking care of their kids leading them in Bible study, crafts, and games.
After feeding the group lunch, some of the team led the women in a craft. They loved every minute of it. Here they are showing off their new pillows.
The class day ended with a Bible study in which a team member shared the ways in which God shows his love to us. God was already at work in these women prior to our arrival but it was a blessing to watch God continue to work through our team’s faithfulness. The prayers offered by this group left me in tears.
After the class was over our team went down streets knocking on doors. We offered food, prayer, and warm smiles. Meeting people and blessing them with the love and kindness of Jesus Christ is a powerful experience.
So much was left unsaid and so much was underdeveloped. Yet, that’s the real church. Broken people united by a Savior looking to serve in the name of that Savior. Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ through word and deed.
I want more and more of it.