GETTING READY FOR MISSIONS
Text: Teppo Rajala
Have you noticed that missions penetrate the whole Bible? Jesus’ Great Commission (e.g. in Acts 1:8) is a widely known mission statement: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Still, missions didn’t start from there. Even Abraham who lived long before Jesus was a missionary in his own time. You can find references to missions throughout whole Old Testament as well as New Testament if you just pay attention.
I’m a missionary kid, so one would easily point out that being active with missions or short term outreaches is an obvious choice for me. Still, it isn’t that simple. I was a high school student when our family came back to Finland from our mission field, Japan, where I had spent most of my childhood and early teenage years. After returning to my home country I missed Japan, but I didn’t want to play any active part in missions. I would stay as far as possible especially from short term outreaches.
Ten years passed and it wasn’t until I went to a two-weekend mission course called Kairos course when my viewpoint started to change. I could say my world view changed. I realized that also I could have an active role in world missions. I understood that you don’t have to be a hired missionary in a mission field but you can support missions in your home church in different ways. As a first step of this new role I attended a two-week Japan outreach with my wife. Then later I also became an active promoter of missions in my church.
Many times people have excuses for not being active in missions. Life situations such as family, work, age, money, hobby responsibilities etc. might act as an excuse. For example it is quite common to think that when you have children you cannot go to outreaches.
Two years ago I challenged this claim together with my wife and our friends. So, in the summer of 2014, two families, both with under one-year-old baby went to Albania for an outreach. First we were also thinking that it is not possible for us to go. But with careful planning the outreach became reality. Our team’s responsibility was to make program for a four-day children camp. The camp was successful, and we managed to plan the program so that we were able to have our babies at the camp, too. Children as well as adults loved the babies. So as a bonus, the babies were good way of braking barriers with locals. We definitely felt that the whole trip was worth doing.
Whatever your life situation might be I encourage you to challenge yourself and step out a little bit from your comfort zone. Going for an outreach is a good way to start to find your calling in missions. Try it, it is worth it!
The writer is a former missionary kid, currently a proud father of 2-year-old and 5-month-old boys. He lives in Tampere, Finland. He coordinates youth outreach groups in his home church in his free time. He is also a Kairos mission course facilitator. Currently he dreams about going for a short trip somewhere far with a good cause.
MISSION TRIP – MORE THAN AN ADVENTURE!
Text: Esther Gomez Herreruela
When talking about Short-Term mission trips, it seems somehow difficult to understand how such a short experience could affect so much, or matter so much. Quite a big investment in effort, money, time… can a short-term mission trip really be such a big thing?
I went to my first mission trip when I was ten years old. Of course, I was with my parents, who, as medical doctors, were part of a health campaign that took place in the indigenous tribes of the Andes, in Ecuador. You could definitely think there was not much a little girl like me could do, surrounded by very capable adults. However, I never felt such a thing and maybe because of it I found that God had there a place for me. In fact I helped in many ways, from helping in registration to play and entertain the local children. Also, I had a great time with the mission team I travelled with and made special relationships with some of these adults; even more, they asked me, as team member, to lead a devotional! And crazy as it sound, I did it. But more than anything I could do, it still amazes me what God did in me. He gave me the opportunity of discovering a different world, to learn about the need and, even more, to see what He can do for others when we just trust Him and go. He taught me that He loved the World, and made me understand that Missions is a natural part in the Christian life, even for children. Above all, I knew Him more, and I knew what was in His heart.
I went two other times to Ecuador after that and then I had to wait years until I could go on missions again, this time as a young adult to a very different place, the northern country of Denmark. Not anymore a carefree girl and after a long time without a mission trip, I had to face new challenges. It was a short trip, just five days, but in those five days God put before me many things I had never done before, and just believing Him, I said yes; yes to evangelize, to share publicly my testimony, to preach in a language not my own… and God was always there. I learnt many things, from the team members with me, from the Danish people I met, from the wonderful missionaries we were with, from God Himself, in quiet prayer times through the trip. After five days, I was no longer the same.
Last year was Switzerland the new mission destiny, and again, I cannot tell about all God did there. It seems incredible how much a small time in missions can affect life. Often, it is not seen at the very moment, but looking back now and thinking about all these experiences, I cannot believe how much God used each one of them to bring me where I am today. Who I am has a lot to do with those places I went just for a few days.
So, back to the beginning, are mission trips so important? Are they worth all the investment? Well, after some years and trips, I say yes, definitely yes. Mission trips challenge you, cause growth in many ways, allow you to discover a Christian love that transcends borders of nation and race, a worldwide family building up God’s Kingdom. And as for me, the number of adventures, the ways I saw God overcoming the impossible, making a way no matter the obstacles… Well, I will never run out of stories to tell.
At the end, all the words cannot explain it, so this is my challenge for all of those for whom mission trips are yet unknown: go and see it by yourself, experience it, trust God and live it.
Esther Gomez Herreruela