One of my favorite posts from our partners blog was about the purpose of the international mission trips we do. I (Tim) am embarking on a return trip to Peru this October, so I thought it was appropriate to repost this gem. I’ll give you some details about the upcoming trip soon.
The original post:
In nine days I’ll get on a plane that will take me from Dallas to Miami, then I’ll get on another plane that will take me to Lima, a city on the Pacific Coast of South America. We’ll probably fly over the Caribbean, getting glimpses of Cuba, then Panama, then over the Pacific Ocean, then Ecuador (where we’ll cross the equator) before we land in Peru where it’s currently summer.
I’ve been contemplating the miles. I get uncomfortable on a plane after about and hour and a half. I know, isn’t that a laughably short time for someone who loves to travel so much?!
So why fly so far? I’ve heard people say “isn’t there enough mission field here at home? So many lost people in our own neighborhood.”
In one conversation when we were anticipating a trip to Central America, a friend asked, “So…what are you gonna do? Play…uh…music for them?”
It wasn’t intended to diminish what we do; it was just an honest question about the value of what we bring and why we go.
I agree with what’s between the lines there. Do South Americans need a North American to come and play music for them? Don’t they have their own music? Don’t they have someone who can play just as well or better? Someone who can lead them in worship? Who knows how to build them a building? Who can educate and play with their kids? Who can speak scripture to them and pastor them? Who can pray for them to be healed? Who can inspire them onward in the way of Jesus, but with a better understanding of their culture and history in national identity?
Of course they do.
Then why don’t we just send those people a check and not tire ourselves out riding in an aircraft into another hemisphere and getting our stomachs all upset eating guinea pigs with them? (Yes, some Peruvians do eat guinea pigs. I haven’t decided whether to partake if offered. I mean, those are pets here)
Of course, I started this post in order to eventually to tell you my answers to this good question, but first, I was wondering what your answers are.
So, why go?
Doug: Good Question, I have asked myself that more than once. Why me, why now, why there. One of the reasons, I want to see the country and enjoy the people and their customs. Another is to hang out with some great people. But the main reason that I go is because I hear the Spirit say go, and I don’t want to displease the Father.
Mike: That’s it, the only answer, “He said to go”. Sometimes you go and return and you still wonder what that was all about. Usually though you know, it’s obvious because God shows up. It’s His invitation to join Him because he takes delight in you doing so.
Tim: Thanks for your answers, Doug and Mike. Yes, the primary reason to go (or to stay, or to do anything else for that matter) has to be obedience to the Lord. When we hear his voice we don’t want to harden our hearts and end up missing out on participating with him in the work of redemption.
Here are some more reasons I go:
“But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:24
If I’m a part of one body with the believers in other places, I want to be concerned for them and be a help to them like I would a part of my own body. It’s not that there are a bunch of things the Peruvians need that only I can do for them. It’s that I am of one body with the Peruvians and they need me to be who only I can be for them. They need the specific grace that only my part of the body has. And I need to know the grace of Jesus that only their part of the body offers. And when the world sees that we love each other no matter how distant (geographically or otherwise) we may be, it wants a part in that love.
“Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within* you.” Luke 17:21 *or among.
Within or among. Or both. We find the kingdom within ourselves and among one another. So relating to one another in the ministry of reconciliation becomes paramount in seeking the kingdom. And I for one just can’t get excited about a kingdom of God that only eats hamburgers. It’s gotta have ceviche and baba ganoush and curry and fried plantains and sesame chicken and collared greens and on and on….
“He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:14
Another reason is to fulfill scriptures like this one. Prophets of old dreamed about the beauty of people of many languages worshiping the Lord together, with our deepest allegiance in the Lord’s kingdom which will never pass away!
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25:40
When I serve people who are in need like our brothers and sisters in Peru–think of the terrible eathquake they’re still recovering from–Jesus considers that the same as serving him!
I also love to get to know other people’s ways and languages and outlook on life. It shows me God’s creativity and inspires me to praise him.
I’d like to mention that I think writing a check to the local folks who are doing the kind of work I mentioned in this post is a great idea, and I happily do that kind of giving. I think empowering and honoring nationals in developing nations is crucial. But what kind of family would we be if we only sent our money and didn’t care to get to know our brothers and sisters?
That’s what I’m off to do. Thanks for your prayers.July 27, 2009