While in San Diego about a month ago I got the chance to hear Bob Goth, author of Love Does, speak. One of the most impactful things I heard him say is that sometimes as we're trying to get to "the poorest of these" we're overlooking the poor that are right in front of us. And we REALLY want to get to Africa or India to get to the poorest, but sometimes it's just not what God is calling us to do. Sometimes God is calling us to serve here in our own backyard. So what are some of the benefits of a mission trip within the United States?
1. Mission trips within the United States are needed:
I've been asked countless times why I go to Jamaica while there are so many needs here. That's simple...God's called me to Jamaica. But there are people being called to serve here at home as well. We're not all called to go overseas. There are so many needs here within our own boundaries. Sometimes we just need to open our eyes.
2. Mission trips within the United States are healthy:
When I say healthy I'm also saying cheap. :) I talk to church after church that want to go off to a strange foreign land...but they can't afford it. So they just don't do anything. Or they're saving up to go somewhere "big" next year. I understand that it can be a strain on the church and their community to have to raise $1,500 for 20 people every year. God blesses those efforts time after time, but is it necessarily healthy? What if you can save for that big trip AND do a mission trip? Mission trips within the U.S. are a great way to do that.
3. Mission trips within the United States are fun:
They may not seem fun on the drive there, but when you look back at your week you'll have countless memories and strong friendships. How could you not with 18 hours in a church van with 12 people? Not only that but you often get to see a side of the U.S. or even your own community that you'd never experienced before. Driving to Tucson from Minneapolis WILL be fun....it will. Besides, everyone loves a road trip.
4. Mission trips within the United States are a precursor:
Often times a local/domestic mission trip gets people hungry to do more! You work with a Jamaican church and community in Miami and then you want to go see the real Jamaica. (Do all Jamaicans really say "mon"? YES!) You've gotten a taste of the food and the accent and the culture and now you're more prepared to go serve in the place where it all began. This is awesome!
We don't have to step over the poor to get to the poorest. And when I say poor I don't just mean "financially" poor. There are so many opportunities to use your life and your voice and your experiences to touch someone's life forever...right in your own backyard. And by doing so you're still fulfilling the Great Commision! Being God's hand and feet right here at home.