So, you’re thinking about exploring short-term mission opportunities in East Asia? Having now been in Thailand for 2+ years I’d love to share some of my thoughts and lessons learnt on this grand adventure.
The first step is the scariest in my opinion…
Wrestling with the thought of wanting to go can feel overwhelming and all-consuming at times.
What will going look like?
What will I miss out on while away from home?
Where should I go?
How will I get there?
So many thoughts and so many seemingly unanswered questions. But let me reassure you – God is with you each step of the way.
It is always a good idea to submit your thoughts, dreams and desires to God at this point and ask Him to guide you. You’ll be surprised at what He can do with a simple, ‘I’m willing to go, but I need your help’. This is exactly the way my journey started! I had a thought that I wanted to learn about the church in Asia, and next thing I knew I was applying to opportunities and making to-do lists!
On that note, there are so many ways you can be involved! Don’t limit yourself to what you think you can or can’t do, because the options are bountiful, and God will use you in such incredible ways. Think about your gifts and talents and ask God how He can use these to serve Him. Think skateboarding, making coffee, teaching, praying, playing esports, running English camps, setting out chairs for conferences, walking around the park, soccer, movies, prison ministry, church plants, workshops, painting and so much more. There is a place for you, and I pray that God would lead you right to it. And to be honest, once you are out serving, you will discover you had more gifts and talents than you thought! I had never played badminton before, but God used that as a tool for me to make friends. There is something for all of us!
Sadly, many of us are hesitant about the next step
Don’t let the small task of raising financial and prayer support deter you from the great plans God has for you. God is the great Provider, and He will give us what we need just in time. One example of this in my own life is always a stark reminder that if God wills it, it will happen.
I signed up to go on a prayer trip to Asia, but I didn’t yet have the money to pay for it. I figured that I would get to that matter before the final payment was due! However, that very week I got a call telling me I needed to make a payment for the flights. Sadly, if I could not make that payment, I would not be able to go on the trip.
I wrestled internally with this and decided that if God wanted me to go on this trip surely He would provide. I did not tell anyone else about the call or the urgent need for finances. The day before the deadline, I emptied out my bank account and made the payment. I literally had no money left. I felt like I had been abandoned by God. Why hadn’t He provided?
The next day, as I walked into the office where I worked, there was a slip of paper on my desk. As I looked at it, I realized that it was proof of payment, confirming that the entire cost of the trip had already been paid on my behalf the previous day.
God is so good, and He will always provide. I repented and worshipped God in awe! Two lessons that I learnt from this story and the many other times I have had to raise support – firstly, always invite people into your journey. They may not be able to go with you, but they can support you. God is still using them for His mission. Tell people, share your story! And secondly, never doubt what God can do. Over the years, God has provided through so many people, through strangers and far off friends. Submit all your needs to God, and He will make a way.
As you pack your bags, you will feel many emotions.
Excitement about new adventures, curiosity about new lands, sadness as you say goodbye, joy at how God orchestrated the whole journey, trepidation for trying new foods, worry about catching flights and concern about learning a new language. It is okay to feel all these things. Allow yourself to feel them all, but do not allow them to overwhelm you or derail what God has planned for you. Submit your emotions to God and allow Him to govern them.
This brings me to probably the most important part of any mission trip – Prayer.
Pray always. Pray often. And pray with your ministry team. Pray by yourself. Ask for prayer. Pray for others. If you want to see God move, this is where you start. I cannot stress enough the need to place prayer and your spiritual health at the top of the list of things to maintain and guard while preparing to go and while serving. Remain focused on Jesus and the task He has called you to. Trust me when I say you cannot do it alone. Serving in another culture, with different languages, foods and customs is tough, and it is only by relying on and drawing strength from Jesus that you will be able to do it.
Lastly, as you arrive at the field, lay down your pride.
Humble yourself to what God is doing and how He will use you. Someone once told me that the first thing they do when they arrive in a new place, is they pick up the soil and let it run through their fingers. What did God have in mind when He created this people? Ask God what He is doing with this people and their land, and how He would like to use you to share the Gospel. There is no greater joy than sharing your faith with people who have never heard the Gospel before. Yet you will also experience deep sorrow when people are not receptive to Jesus. Trust in this: God is moving in hearts in His perfect timing. He wants His will to be done more than you ever could! It isn’t up to you to “save” people. Though He uses those who are willing, it is up to Him to change hearts. His timing is perfect, His ways are higher than ours, and He can move mountains… in His own way.
I can’t wait to hear your stories of God’s faithfulness, how He uses you, and the ways that your relationship with God deepened through serving Him and his people.
Justine lives in Northern Thailand with her husband Keegan and her little dog Pixel. They are involved in youth ministries at their local church and coordinate short term workers who wish to serve in Thailand.