Living in the “mission trip era”

Earle D. Treptow

Mission work used to be limited to a select few. That’s no longer so. Thanks to the proliferation of Christian mission organizations, hundreds of thousands participate in mission work each year, in places around the world.

These mission organizations arrange both short-term mission trips, lasting from a week to a month for those who will use vacation time to participate, and long-term mission trips for those who do not have obligations tying them to their home. Some of the mission trips focus on demonstrating Christ’s love by helping people in need. Other mission trips center specifically on proclaiming Christ’s love to those who don’t yet know him as their Savior.

Ask those who have participated in mission trips about their experiences and you better pull up a chair, because they will have much to share. They will talk about the privilege of serving the Savior as they carried out important work, whether that was drilling a bore hole to provide water for residents of a third-world country or having Bible studies in a country in which Christianity is illegal. Though they will grant that the days were long and the travel difficult, most wouldn’t trade their mission experience for anything.

Thank the Lord for providing opportunities to serve him in places across the world, to participate in important work, and to have an impact on others!

The challenge of living in this “mission trip era” is that we may unwittingly begin to believe that the best service to offer the Lord is to travel to some distant locale to proclaim the gospel there and assist people in desperate need. Other service, while useful, pales in comparison. That’s not at all how the Lord views it. The Savior doesn’t set up grades and ranks of service, from spectacular to adequate. Instead, he gives us opportunities every day to thank him for his mercy and to make a positive impact on others. In fact, he wants us to consider everything we do as part of our service to him: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

In his Small Catechism, Dr. Luther includes a Table of Duties. He applies passages of Scripture to the different positions in which the Lord places people, providing instruction about serving the Lord in those various offices. If you haven’t recently reflected on the Table of Duties, pick up the catechism and read that section through prayerfully. The Lord has important work for you to carry out in each of the callings he has given you: employee (or employer), citizen, congregational member, child, parent, or spouse. The Lord intends to make an impact on others through you. He will do so in the midst of what may feel to you like the humdrum monotony of day-to-day life. You may not recognize the impact of your service, but God promises to bless others through you. Serving the people around you day after day has God’s stamp of approval. He delights in your service, because he delights in you.

Does that say something about how the Lord would have you view your life? As a child of God, your whole life is about serving your Savior and making an impact on others. Day after day, in ordinary life, you have opportunities to demonstrate Christ’s love and to proclaim Christ’s love. Your whole life is a mission trip!

Contributing editor Earle Treptow, president of the Nebraska District, is pastor at Zion, Denver, Colorado.

 

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Author: Earle D. Treptow
Volume 102, Number 11
Issue: November 2015

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