Preparing to serve in short-term mission

Taxis in Japan

Getting ready to go…

Going on a short-term mission trip is a unique opportunity to step out in faith. In order to serve God well it is important that you prepare your heart, body, spirit, and mind. God desires for you to increase your intimacy with Him as you prepare, spend time in Asia and when you return. Whether you intend to serve God with Serve Asia or another organisation the mission trip resources available on this page can help you when preparing to serve God cross-culturally.

Prepare Your Heart

Two reflective bible study exercises to help you spiritually prepare for short-term mission.

Raise Support

Why and how we can depend on God for the financial and prayer support that we need.

Keep a Journal

Tips on mission trip journaling with suggested questions to help you be honest, reflect and learn.

Pray & Reflect

Devotions to help you spiritually prepare for mission, with a focus on prayer & spiritual warfare.

Prepare Your Heart

Exercise One: The Exchanged Life

“I prayed, agonised, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the word more diligently, sought more time for meditation—but all without avail. Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me. Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin. There was nothing I so much desired as holiness, nothing I so much needed; but far from in any measure attaining it, the more I strove after it, the more it eluded my grasp, until hope itself almost died out.

When my agony of soul was at its height, the Spirit of God revealed to me the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. McCarthy (Taylor’s friend), wrote: “But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the faithful one. Oh, it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Saviour, to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves. Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and your left poor? Or your head be well fed while your body starves? The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. But I am dead and buried with Christ—ay, and risen too!—And now Christ lives in me, and “the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

In other words, do not let us consider Him as far off, when God has made us one with Him, members of His very body. Nor should we look upon this experience, these truths, as for the few. They are the birthright of every child of God.”” ~ Hudson Taylor (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, 2007 edition)

1. From the beginning of the excerpt above, it is easy to see that Taylor had been living a defeated, discouraged life. Do you ever feel this way? Do you find yourself striving for holiness but continually falling at on your face? If yes, explain.

2. What was the turning point for Taylor? What do you think it means to have oneness with Jesus?

3. Read Galatians 2:20-21. How did this truth change Taylor’s life? How has it or can it change yours?

4. Why do you think this is important to realise as you head into this short-term trip? How will ministry look different if you are serving out of your union with Jesus rather than your own striving?

Read Psalm 139:23-24

Take a few minutes to talk to God about your desire to give and serve out of your union with Christ during this short-term experience. Ask Him to examine your heart and to show you where you are “striving” more than you are receiving grace and resting in Him. Confess those areas to Him honestly and completely. Write them down to help you remember throughout your trip (as this lesson will probably come up again).

Now take a few more minutes to listen to the Lord speak to your heart. What is He saying to you? What does He want to teach you through this short-term trip? How does He want to change you? Use you? Write down what you sense Him laying on your heart.

Exercise Two: Do You Love Me?

Read John 21:15-19

1. “Do you love me?” Imagine Jesus calls you over to walk and talk with Him for a while and these are the first words out of His mouth. What is your response? The God of the universe wants to be loved by you – how does that make you think and feel?

2. Peter wasn’t perfect, but Jesus still pursued him, wanted to be loved by Him and wanted to use him in His eternal purposes. That is grace. How have you seen Christ’s grace in your life story? In which ways has He pursued you? Used you?

3. Loving Jesus leads to “feeding His sheep.” What does that mean? How does that influence your decision to go on this short-term trip? In what ways does it in influence you to invest your life?

4. “Follow me.” Imagine that as you walk with Jesus, you discuss the honest answer to His question, “Do you love me?” Then He looks deep into your eyes and says, “Follow me.” Peter knew if he answered “Yes, Jesus, I love you” it would cost him.

– When have you continued to follow Him, even though it was incredibly difficult?
– When have you experienced more of Him because you chose to follow?
– How has your love for Jesus grown as you have followed Him?

5. As you prepare to go on this short-term trip, in what areas do you anticipate it will be a challenge to follow Jesus? Will it be concentrating on loving Him or being willing to feed His sheep?

Raise Support

Raising Prayer Support

When you arrive in Asia, you will quickly realise how dependent you are on God to work in and through you and how much you need your friends and family to be intentionally interceding for you. Be aware of your weaknesses and the ways you may be tempted or attacked spiritually. Some Serve Asia participants shared about a time of desperate need while they were in Asia, only to find out later that someone back home was burdened to pray for them at that exact moment!

We recommend asking at least 10 people who are close to you to be in conversation with God regularly on your behalf concerning those needs. Make them a part of your ministry to East Asia through prayer. Besides having your prayer team pray for you, they can also pray for the country where you will be serving, for specific people you will encounter, and for ongoing ministry of God’s Church in East Asia.

Raising Financial Support

OMF International is a faith-based mission, this means we depend upon God for financial provision to do His kingdom work. For nearly 150 years we have seen God provide for us during wars and recessions, as well as in times of abundance.

Although prayer should be the emphasis in raising support, fundraising for your mission trip is a reality. You may be worried about where the money will come from and whether you can raise the full amount in time. We encourage you to recruit people to pray for you first and foremost, then present your financial needs as appropriate. People will want to know your financial needs so be ready to tell them!

We know that our provision comes from God and that we want to see Him work beyond our own abilities. His provision is often a confirmation that this is also what He wants. Although the process is not easy, we lay our goals before God, work diligently and trust Him for the outcome.

Ministering to your Supporters

While they are supporting you through prayer and finance, God will also use your mission work as an opportunity to minister to your supporters. As you send out newsletters and talk to people about your trip, you raise their awareness of spiritual needs in another culture and give them an opportunity to do something about it. By doing this, you are sharing something with them that is of eternal value.

We all have a part in the Great Commission, whether in a support role, direct ministry or a combination of both. You serve them through sharing stories about what God is doing around the world and giving them a valuable role in that work. As 2 Corinthians 9:12-15 says, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. … And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you because of the all-surpassing grace God has given you…”

Keep a Journal

There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal. It is a reflection of your unique relationship with Jesus, and it only requires a commitment on your part to take the time to do it. Once you have decided it is a valuable tool in your journey with Him, you can decide how it will look.

We like mission trip journals because they…

help you reflect on your daily experiences. This helps lead to insight and understanding about God’s character, about yourself and about the world around you.

provide an opportunity for you to listen to God’s voice and learn the things He wants to teach you. Since we believe in a sovereign God who is Lord over the world and every daily incident that comes into our lives, we need to take time to examine what happens in order to learn. Writing these things in a journal commits us to examine them and allows God to speak to us through them.

help you be honest with yourself and with God. The Psalms are full of gutsy, honest communication with God about all sorts of difficulties and joys in life. Though He already knows how we feel at every moment, He wants us to pour out our hearts before Him with vulnerability and sincerity. Writing this in a journal helps us to see what is going on in our hearts, the way He already does.

enable us to remember and therefore have hope. When we take time to look back at the things God has done in our lives, the prayers He has answered, the gifts He has given or the trials He has brought us through, it encourages us to trust Him in the future. It causes our hope in Jesus to grow stronger as we become more confident in His unfailing love and faithfulness. Our life story becomes the avenue by which we truly see Him, know Him and love Him.

Journaling Questions

Here are some questions and ideas to consider as you journal. Try picking three or four each day to think and write about during your mission trip.

1. What is my dominant emotion or thought right now?

2. What aspect of God’s character am I most thankful for today? In what aspect am I struggling to trust?

3. What was my most significant experience today?

4. At which moment did I feel most fulfilled today? Why? At what moment did I feel most frustrated? Why?

5. Is there a story I really want to remember? (Include sounds, smells, sights, feelings, etc.)

6. Am I showing love to the people around me? What aspect of this different culture do I appreciate? What aspect am I struggling to understand or accept?

7. Did I practice constantly abiding in God’s presence today? Did I love Him with my affections and my actions? When did I find myself loving me more than Him?

8. What do I appreciate about my team members, leaders, national Christians, etc? If I am having conflict with anyone, am I addressing it in the way the Bible instructs?

9. What am I learning about myself? What are things I would like God to help me change? What do I want to do differently tomorrow?

Pray & Reflect

“Prayer does not equip us for the greater work—prayer is the greater work.” ~ Oswald Chambers

 

What is prayer?

Write down a few thoughts. Then work through the bible studies below as you prepare for your mission trip.

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

– What does love have to do with praying?

– Why is it easier to pray with our hearts detached?

– Paul says our prayers are simply noise if they do not stem from a sincere love for Jesus Christ and a love for His people. How much of your prayer life is noise?

Read Isaiah 29:13

– What is the difference in honouring Him with our lips, but our hearts being far from Him?

– How can we be completely honest with God, our hearts fully engaged in prayer, and yet be willing to lay aside our own desires in order for His purpose to be accomplished?

– What is needed in order to pray with our hearts near to God, rather than far from Him?

Read James 5:16

– Why do we need to confess our sins? Who benefits from this?

– Are there things we are harboring that we have not confessed— unforgiveness, bitterness, judgmental attitudes, fear, pride, etc? All these things are a tool of the enemy.

Read Matthew 6:9-13

– If this prayer were answered in your life, what would that look like? What might it cost you?

– If you used this prayer in vs. 10 when interceding for others, what would you be asking for? What would you not be asking for?

– What hinders the coming of His kingdom?

– How is His will done in heaven? What allows His will to be done on earth?

Read 1 John 5:14-15

– How do we know if we are praying according to God’s will?

– What role does our faith play in answered prayer?

– Do you feel you are tempted to pray for “small” or “easy” things? Why or why not?

– What things do we know for sure are God’s will, and can thus pray for with confident assurance? List some specifics from the Bible.

Has God ever surprised you with some different forms or ways of praying? When you are on your trip, you may want to try different forms or postures of prayer such as singing and worship, praying scripture and prayer walking.

Spiritual Warfare

“It is a serious mistake to underestimate the power of Satan; it is a tragedy to overestimate it.” ~Anonymous

 

Our worldview impacts how we interact with the spiritual reality of life. Sometimes we are more aware of spiritual warfare, or the battle between God’s work and the enemy’s presence, when we go to another culture because it seems so physically apparent due to their worldview (i.e. spirit houses, temples with demonic paintings, prayer flags or bracelets, shamans or witchdoctors who communicate with the spirits, etc.).

The truth is that God’s enemy is attempting to keep people from knowing Him everywhere! It happens even where you currently live, although you may not see it in the overtly physical ways like you might see in your host culture.

As followers of Christ, we have been brought from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We have a Biblical Worldview. We have a personal relationship with the one true God, who is over all powers and authorities in the heavenly realms. at should give us great joy and confidence in being co-labourers with Him! We are now part of Christ’s rescue team as He draws people out of darkness into relationship with Himself.

So, what does God teach us about this issue of spiritual warfare?

We need to understand who God is. We need a correct view of God as we look at the reality of spiritual warfare.

– God is willing to hear (Psalm 145:18-19)

– God is able and powerful (Ephesians 3:20)

– Christ has all authority (Ephesians 1:20-22)

We need to understand the spiritual battle.

Ephesians 6:10-19:
– We claim His power and strength (verse 10)

– Be aware of the enemy’s schemes (verse 11-12)

The enemy’s schemes include:
– World’s temptation (1 John 2:15-1()

– Our own flesh (Galatians 5:19-21)

– Lies and deceptions (1 Peter 5:8) For example,there is a huge misconception today that Satan is all powerful. It can also be used as an excuse for us to sin and blame it on the enemy. But remember – Satan is not all powerful, only God is!

We have the following tools:

Armour against the enemy’s schemes (verse 13-17):
– Belt of truth
– Breastplate of righteousness
– Shield of faith
– Helmet of salvation
– Sword of the Spirit

Intercession (verse 18-19):
– For self
– For ministers of the gospel

We need to understand who we are in Christ.

It is extremely important to know your identity in Christ and the authority He has given you before engaging in spiritual battle.

– Christ lives in you (Galatians 2:20)

– You are forgiven and alive with Christ (Colossians 2:13-15)

– You are victorious (Revelation 12:10-11)

In your own words, what do these verses say about who you are?

We need to know truth and be able to recall scripture.

– Pray through scripture (Ezra 1:8-9)

– Taking thoughts captive and aligning them with the truth of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

– Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16)

If you find yourself in a spiritually charged situation that requires serious warfare, don’t go at it alone. Take at least one other person with you if not several. There is no formula when dealing with these situations. Our response needs to be one of crying out to the Lord and allowing Him to lead us.

Practical Application: Prayer Points

1. Start by acknowledging and praising the Lord that He promises “a people for His name” will be established from among every people. (Revelation 7:9-10)

2. Ask God to enlighten the minds of the people to see the futility of worshiping other gods. (Psalm 115:4-8)

3. Plead for the opening of eyes to the revelation of the creator God and His Son, Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:17-18)

4. Ask that spiritual strongholds and human philosophies or arguments against God, which produce barriers of resistance to the gospel, will be demolished. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

5. Pray for willing and skillful workers to be sent to reach this people group. (Matthew 9:38)

6. Ask God to give understanding and discernment to those who communicate truth, that it may be clearly understood. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

7. Intercede for people to come to Christ, repenting from their sin and from attempting to earn eternal life through their own good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

8. Ask that new believers will grow in their faith and share the gospel as bold witnesses. (Acts 4:29-31)

9. Pray that new communities of believers will give evidence of the grace of God through their lives. (Acts 11:23)