Life after a mission trip can be difficult, especially when it was your first trip. It’s difficult to make sense of what you just saw while handling all of the responsibilities that have piled up. But with a little forethought, life after your mission trip can be a powerful, life-changing season. I’m praying that God would use these 12 insights to help you advance further, faster into the mission of Christ. In the last post, I offered up 6. Here are the remaining 6.
Remember what it’s like to meet God outside of your comfort zone – There are a lot of places mission teams go around the world. Rarely, if ever, does this list include a “comfort zone.” God’s mission pushes outside of our comfort zone. It’s important to remember that God offers his children special blessings outside of their comfort zones, not in them. This is true when you head back to “normal life.”
Remember what it felt like to be an outsider – Most mission teams feel what it is like to be an “outsider.” For many, feeling like an “outsider” is a first. We typically stay in circles where we feel like “insiders,” especially the older we get. Yet, on the mission field, we feel strange. When we go to the worship gathering or the work site, we aren’t in control, we don’t know everyone. We’re outsiders. Remembering this experience will help us do a better job following Jesus’ example and reaching the “outsiders” around us back home.
Remember what it’s like to be on guard – Mission teams know that they encounter strange situations and pressures when they decide to join Jesus on mission amongst the nations. So they put up their guard. Often times, people let their guard down when they get back to the states. Unfortunately, the Enemy often works harder to stop the kingdom momentum generated by the Spirit on these trips. Stay on guard when you’re back in “normal life.”
Remember what it’s like to be flexible – Flexibility is the name of the game on the mission field. You have to learn “to hurry and wait.” Plans change quickly and often. But most mission teams understand that God sets the agenda on the mission field, so they face their changes with expectancy, not anxiety. The same God is setting the agenda at “home.” Face your unexpected problems with expectancy, not anxiety, when you get back to “normal life.”
Remember what it’s like to be a missionary – Most mission teams are made up of people who see “missionary life” for the first time. Often times, people are both inspired by their example and encouraged by their normalcy. Missionaries aren’t the super heroes that we often make them out to be. They are regular sinners, like you and me, following Jesus in normal, grace-dependent ways. By God’s grace, you can live more like one where God’s placed you.
Remember what it’s like to be saved by grace – I’ve never met a person that followed through perfectly on their post-mission trip commitments. So many of them end up struggling from what I call, “post-mission trip guilt.” You experience this when you don’t feel like you did on the trip, don’t change like you hoped you would, or don’t _______________. Remember that you are saved by grace, not by your works. Jesus is the only one who has ever performed perfectly. So expect to be imperfect as you take new steps of faithfulness. Rest in his grace, even as you reach for more.
I hope these have been helpful. I’m sure I’ve left some off. What would you add?