Just returning from two weeks in Moldova, I thought about some lessons God has taught me about missions and about Him over 15 years. In 2003, I would have never dreamed I would go every summer for 15 years to this little country that I hardly knew anything about, and I would have never dreamed what God would do. Here are a few lessons that I hope help you grow in your faith and join God in what He is doing:
- Just go! At some point, go on a mission trip. Jesus’ last words on earth to His disciples were, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” Therefore, this means we must go to the nations. I have served in Moldova with team members from 16 to 71 years-old. At some point in your life, you need to go. And, go back often.
- You can’t do everything, but you can do something. If you can’t go, or even if you can, you can at least sponsor a child. Being personally involved is the call of Christ. Recently in Moldova, I heard a child say to their sponsor in front of a large crowd, “You changed my life.” It’s true.
- Join with the heartbeat of God. Not only does Jesus give us “The Great Commission” to go, but when you go to serve the least, the last, the lost, you see the heartbeat of God. James 1:27 says, “The kind of religion that God sees as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
- You will make a difference. Every person that I have been privileged to serve with in Moldova has made a difference. Some have been great teachers and others just awesome with hugs. It is not about what you can or can’t do, but about placing yourself in the hands of a God who will use you for His glory.
- Perspective. Through missions, you gain a new perspective on your life. You see how half of the world lives on less than $2 a day. You realize that while most of the people in the world have very little material possessions, those in Christ have a joy that is rich and deep. You learn that you have been blessed to be a blessing.
- Learn to live every day like you are on a mission trip. On a mission trip, you are focused solely on doing the work of Christ. You don’t get distracted with trivial things of the world. You are there to share the love of Christ. Imagine living like this every day.
- God can change a country. I have learned this first hand. It seems like an incredible undertaking, but we have a bigger God. As you pour into the children and students in a country, God will raise up a new generation. We are literally seeing Moldova change socially, economically and spiritually. God brings a hope and a future.
- You see Jesus in the faces of the poor. If you are stalled out spiritually, then going on a mission trip will jumpstart your faith. You feel so close to Jesus. It was Mother Teresa who said, “I see Christ in the faces of the poor.”
- You experience exponential spiritual growth. James writes, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.” Many people like to talk about the Bible. They go from one Bible Study to the next. While I love Bible Study, we are also called to live this out. Your spiritual life deepens and flourishes as you get involved in missions.
- Never give up. Maybe you tried missions before – don’t stop. This is a life-long commitment. Go back and go often. Pray fervently. Invest passionately. Sow seeds that will reap a harvest long after you. Even if you don’t see it now, God will bring fruit.
- Invite others to join you. Jesus was constantly inviting people to “follow” Him. When people return from a mission trip, many times they invite their family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to get involved as well. Whether through donations to help you go on the trip or to become sponsors after you return, it takes as many as possible to make the greatest impact.
- Your life will be changed. Every trip I hear from people who go, “This changed my life.” It is true. You begin to evaluate everything you go – from where you invest your time to your money. You realize what is important in the Kingdom, and you begin to re-order your life around God’s plans and His purposes.
- Joy. When Jesus sent out the 72 on the first Mission Trip (Luke 10), it says “they returned with joy.” Every person I have ever served with on a mission trip has returned this way. There is nothing like being involved in the work of the Lord.
- “A long obedience in the same direction.” – Eugene Peterson. As a church, we have committed to Moldova. Everyone has been involved through going, giving and praying. Investing deeply, consistently and over the long-term is powerful.
- Elena, Jazgul, Ala, Ilie, Adrian, Denis, Ion, Sandu and the list goes on and on. These are the names of the kids we have met on mission trips in camps at the orphanages through the years and then have been in our Transitional Living program. They love Jesus, and they are going back into orphanages all over Moldova and sharing Christ. Praise God!
After that first mission trip to Moldova in 2003, it is incredible to see what God has done. In 2008, we started Justice & Mercy International. Today, we have 12 full-time people serving in Moldova, 350 orphan children sponsored, two Transitional Living homes for girls, one home for Boys and 60 students in our transitional living program. All glory to our great God! Jump in and join God in what He is doing. You can and will make a difference. And, you will be forever changed. Godspeed!