This past week I traveled with 18 Americans to a part of rural Guatemala that I’ve visited seven times in 11 years. Our multigenerational team from Florida included a college professor, a lawyer, a salesman, a private school teacher, several teens and a 31-year-old veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Only one of our team members could speak Spanish fluently and a few had never been out of the United States before.
The climate was hot, the food was strange and communication was a challenge. But the inconveniences didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. The people on our team dug a foundation for a church building, prayed for people at the conclusion of many services, played soccer with local youth, hugged lots of kids, performed dramas, visited local families in their homes and made lifelong friends.
Not everyone can pack up all their belongings and become career missionaries, but many of us can go on short-term mission trips. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to consider these benefits of taking the compassion of Jesus to another culture:
1. You will encounter God’s heart. Our God is big and He cares about the nations. He’s a global God. And His ultimate goal is to gather a family that represents “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). When you step into a foreign mission field, you will sense God’s amazing compassion for another culture and you will begin to know Him as Lord of the harvest.
2. You will expand your limited perspective. Too many of us are stuck in spiritual ruts. Even pastors can get bored with the sameness of ministry in one community. Every now and then you need to step out of your comfort zone and allow God to stretch you. Experience how other Christians worship God with fervor. Discover how they plant churches and engage in evangelism. Recognize that the way we do ministry in the United States is not necessarily the only way. And expect to learn from the people you are going to minister to.
3. You will be become more grateful. I receive an attitude adjustment every time I go to another country—especially when I am with poorer Christians. Whether I am eating papayas and frijoles in Guatemala, sleeping on an uncomfortable bed in Uganda or riding in an all-night train in India, I come back from my trips with a renewed appreciation for life’s little blessings—air conditioning, running water, nice roads and flush toilets. There’s nothing like spending time with a family of seven in a house made of mud and straw to put your puny problems in perspective.
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SOURCE: Charisma News
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies the Church Tells Women and other books.