“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” —Jesus, Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
One of my foundational, fundamental core beliefs is that Jesus gave us a directive, a COMMAND, to (1) go, (2) make disciples, and (3) teach them afterward.
It’s nice to send a check to missionaries or to specific mission projects; the Lord only knows how desperately they need our checks. But there is even more of a benefit, for us and for them, to GO and be involved with a mission project. By actually going, you can SEE where your money goes AND meet the very people you will help when you do send checks.
Actually going to a mission field, whether it’s Haiti, Uganda, Guatemala, an Indian reservation, a prison, or the mountains of Appalachia, also shows those ones who are being reached in that area that there are people who want to do more than just ‘feel good’ by writing a check… They see that Christians actually care about them! As we interact with them, work beside them, play with them, laugh with them, and pray with them, we send a much louder message than we could ever do with just a pen and a check.
In 1998, my Parade Street and Spartansburg UM Churches sponsored a short term mission trip to Haiti to help build a medical clinic. (In the aftermath of the recent earthquake, it was good news to hear that our medical clinic in Croix-de-Bouquet (just outside of Port-au-Prince) was relatively untouched and was able to be a major resource for offering hope.)
Our whole family went on that trip, including Michele (aged 10) and Sarah (aged 8). Some questioned what good it could possibly do to take children with us. The truth is: they were a major help in at least three areas. First, while none of my family knew anything about laying block, Gay proclaimed that she did know how to frost cakes. So she & the girls (plus Samantha, the 12 year old girl with us) frosted blocks. The kids had ‘fun’ even though it was really hard work under a really hot, August, Caribbean sun.
Second, my girls got to see how bad ‘bad’ can really be. (The average Haitian family makes less than $300 a year!) When we came home, there would be times that this one would want this or that and start to complain, but the talk would turn around when we started to remember those we had met in Haiti. Our trip really taught all of us how rich we Americans really are.
Third, the three kids on that mission trip actually ministered in ways no adult missionary could have ever done. They played and interacted with the Haitian kids and helped to break down the black/white mentality and the rich/poor bias. For us and for the Haitian kids. Those kids, and their mothers who were nearby and their fathers who were working side-by-side with us laying block and carrying stone, all got to see what a caring Christian was like. And the stage was set for the missionaries who lived there to follow up when those families started to get more interested in the gospel later on.
Amid all of the trip pictures of hard working volunteers, absolutely gorgeous tropical scenery, strange looking plants, & scary looking tarantulas, there’s a picture of Sarah helping a Haitian boy blow bubbles. After a couple times of showing him how, she shared them with him and they simply had fun! And the gospel door was opened!
This summer, our congregation has at least two mission trips: one to Webster Springs, West Virginia, and one to Guatemala. And there will probably be several local mission projects as well.
No matter your age (we had one 80-year old guy with us when we went to Haiti) or abilities, we could use your help if you are able to go with us on one of these mission trips. If you’re not able to go this year, maybe you could help with the incredible costs associated with such undertakings. But please try to plan to go on a mission trip maybe the next year.
Not just to help those at the mission site, but also to be in obedience to our Lord’s command (GO!) and to help us learn all that God wants to teach us.
(For more info on mission projects & trips, contact the church office.)