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 these reflective bible studies can help you spiritually prepare for short-term mission.
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)
- 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.
- What was the turning point for Taylor? What do you think it means to have oneness with Jesus?
- Read Galatians 2:20-21. How did this truth change Taylor’s life? How has it or can it change yours?
- 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
- “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?
- 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?
- 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?
- “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?