In recent days, I have been surprised to see people questioning the wisdom of going on missions trips. A pastor that I graduated with posted an article questioning the need for short term missions trips. And then, with the Ebola outbreak and the scare with some missionary workers returning to the US, Ann Coulter (who is a conservative commentator) wrote this piece: http://www.anncoulter.com/. So, I thought that perhaps not everyone understand our reasoning for going to visit our missionaries in South Africa. So here are four reasons I think we should take short term missions trips
1. Missionaries need to be refreshed
When you read the epistles of Paul, a pattern begins to emerge. Over and over again, Paul refers to the “refreshing” he received by visiting and being visited. In Romans 15:32, Paul explains that this is his goal in visiting the church in Rome. Paul rejoices at the coming of Stephanus, Fortunatus and Achicus, who apparently came to him from Corinth, and made up that which was lacking (1 Corinthians 16:17-18)! Those who came to Paul when he was imprisoned are mentioned to Paul – and were an encouragement to him in what must have been a dark hour of his life (2 Tim.1:16)! There is something about being together in person – not in email or on Skype that heightens the experience of refreshing that happens. A card is nice a letter, a picture is great, even a phone conversation, but there is nothing like being there in person!
2. Monies need to be accounted for
Over the years our church has sent tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions. We have not regretted that fact, and are not adversarial about those to whom we give it, but we would like to see what our investment has accomplished! We get letters, and I believe the letters, but there is a value and accountability in actually seeing what has been accomplished. Paul had a desire to make sure his financial dealings were above question. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul writes to the Corinthians and asking them to take up a collection so it could be sent to help support the church in Jerusalem. And guess what Paul says in v.18 and the verses which follow…he says that there were men who had been sent by the churches to accompany this money with Paul to Jerusalem. Paul didn’t say, “don’t worry about the money, just trust me.” He was willing, indeed he asked, for travelling companions to come along side to watch over the administration of this money (v.20-22). Since we have sent so much money over to Africa, is it not a good idea to go and to see how it has been used? To do any less would be a poor testimony of stewarding what God has entrusted us to use for his glory.
3. Much needs to be made of the sacrifice
In a culture of self indulgence, I want to honor people who don’t live for self. I would like to let my kids know, my church know, I would like to let everyone know that the kind of person who is a hero in my book is a person who is willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of others. This is the example we have of Christ (See Philippians 2:1-6). I want to honor people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause of Christ. One of the ways we can do that is by investing in and making much of those who serve in missions. The Hassman’s minister in a dangerous city to reach French speaking people with the good news of Jesus. They train pastors who have little formal bible training. Dave and Julie plant churches in South Africa along the garden route – and they have done so for 25 years. The Farrell’s in France were just honored with their pins for 35 years of service with Baptist Mid-Missions. These are the people – humble servants of God who did not love their lives so much that they would rest and live in ease – that I want to honor. And I think going to visit them is one small way we can do that!
4. All of us need a Broader Sense of God’s Work in the World
Here in Eastern Canada, it’s easy to become provincial and myopic. We need regular reminders that God is at work in the world. We know God is at work here, because we see it. We need to know that God is at work elsewhere. A mission’s trip is a way and a means of broadening our vision of what God is doing in the world.
So, those are four reasons why I think travelling to visit missionaries make sense, and I believe the Bible backs this up. Please pray for us as we go, while we are there and then our safe return. We look forward to seeing you all on Sunday, August 31!