It’s officially Summer! When it comes to global missions in the western world, this is typically the season where short term outreaches are in full throttle. In my mind's eye, I see groups of 10-20 young adults most likely wearing matching t-shirts, backpacks stuffed with a week’s worth of necessities, munching on a crunchy granola bar, and grinning ear to ear as they go through airport security.
Palpable excitement fills the air as they prepare to partner with local organizations and be the hands and feet of Jesus all across the globe. Unfortunately, since the Covid pandemic drastically altered the lives of everyone, you may have noticed there aren’t as many international short term outreaches taking place. It’s tricky--if a country won’t let you fly in, how do you take a team there? Do you just sit back and coast the ride until countries open up again? There’s no straight answer, but the calling will never change. We are to GO into all the world, and our job is to now think creatively like never before.
Here are a few ways we can continue to “go” and share the gospel in every nation even when stuck in our Midwest homes:
1. PRAY. It may seem obvious and ensue eye-rolling, but take a moment to ask yourself what you really believe about the power of prayer. No judgment or shame, just curiosity. Do you truly believe there is power in prayer? That we can actually partner with the Lord and physical and spiritual changes can manifest because of our prayers? If not, invite the Holy Spirit to help you grow in this area. Prayer is too often taken for granted when it is actually one of our most powerful weapons!
Practical Idea: The options are endless, but one simple idea is to use this list and begin praying for counties in alphabetical order. Pull up the map for each country & spend 10 min everyday interceding.
2. GIVE. Even though some countries are still closed right now, does not mean missionaries and ministries have stopped working to bring the gospel there! We can be a huge part of what God is doing globally by just giving $20, $50, or $100! It gets even easier at LifeMission Church, because there’s an option online to give to different missionaries that we support while also giving your regular tithe!
Practical Idea: What if, we made a point to write support letters and send them to people we would anyway if we were going on a short term outreach this summer, and invited them to partner financially with a ministry or missionary that’s on your heart.
3. LEARN & GROW. Part of what makes short term outreaches so impactful is the real life, hands on experience. You’re tasting the food, sweating in the sticky humidity, smelling the spices, struggling with the language, connecting with the locals, and stepping out of your comfort zone in so many aspects. Not only are you being intentional to be fully immersed but the relationships fostered and stories heard become forever ingrained in you.
Practical Idea: Make a point this summer to sort of replicate that experience: read missionary biographies & movies, serve on a local outreach or ministry, try an international cuisine you haven’t tried before, wander through an international grocery store, host an international student for the upcoming school year--the idea is to be a learner of another culture! Believe me, this practice will be fun and begin to create room in your heart to receive God’s heart for that culture and people group.