By Eric Elton, Mission Outreach Director at Prince of Peace Church in Burnsville, MN
Ah yes … the mission trip. As many of us know, on these trips, God often takes us to a new mountaintop place. A place we may have never been before spiritually. We return home … we are fired up … we are going to trust that the fire will continue … until Monday morning, when we start checking emails and voicemails. “I will get back to that flame on Wednesday. “
The trip leader more than likely warned us of those steps and hopefully, encouraged us to stay engaged in God’s kingdom, even when the emails pull us away.
As a person that has lead a few mission trips, we always try to end the trip with a challenge to each member, “what are you going to do with this experience?” We also ask the question, “why is it easier to see and experience God in a different culture, than it is at home?” We all know that God is just as present here (stateside) as in a different culture. The needs are just as great. But it is very easy to get caught up in the mundane and busy-ness of everyday life.
So we challenge our people to open their eyes to the community around them. We ask them to watch out for those people that are in need of our help. It may be a coworker that is suffering from cancer, or a neighbor that lost a loved one. It may be as simple as presence – to give them time to listen, take them to a doctor appointment or to bring them a meal.
What would you do if one of your trip members came to you and said they wanted to start a mentoring ministry in the inner city? What if someone else was inspired to start a foodshelf in your suburban church? The easiest answer is to say, good idea, but not right now. Right? But, what if you took the next step with them? What if they have a relationship with the local grocery store manager? What if they found out that the local grocery store threw items in the garbage that were nearing expiration? What if your friend that is a public health nurse for the county, came to you and said that they really wished there was a foodshelf your part of town? What if your friend had 10 other friends that wanted to help? What if many of them are not part of any church?
So, you take the next steps and it is looking like your church would host a foodshelf. Now you have volunteers and guests that are visiting. What if our role wasn’t so much to take care of the guests, but our role was to equip and encourage our volunteers to take care of the guests? What if we sat around with the volunteers and shared God Stories from the previous 2 hours of providing food?
What if we became the church?