I have never been on a mission trip, but most of the time people laugh at me when I tell them that and answer, “Your whole life is a mission trip.” That may be a good way to describe it, but the reality is that I have never been on an orchestrated mission trip from start to finish. The trip that many times is a first for someone to leave their home country, the worries of “Am I going to have to live in a hut for a whole week?” “Will there be any running water?” “Will there be a plug-in so I can use my hair blow dryer?” “How will I go a whole week with out my cell phone?” You know, the important questions in life.
Many times I am challenged with individuals’ motives to go on short-term mission trips. I desire for everyone to gain a glimpse of what life is like overseas, but I struggle at times when I learn of the main reason of why someone went on a mission trip. Sometimes their motives seem very selfish.
Thoughts like “How will God change my life?” and “What experience am I going to gain from this and how will God use me?” are examples of this. It is not bad to want to be changed or used by God, but I would urge you to not let that be your most important reason. I would challenge you instead to think of the community you are going to serve. “How can God use me to serve?” “What is a practical skill that I could teach those in this community so that when I leave their lives might be just the smallest bit better off than when we arrived?”
Missions trip or no mission trip, may God use you to impact his kingdom and may you let him lead you in the plan he has for your life.
Sara Marshall is a senior public relations major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column reflects the views of the writer only.