Preparing for Missions
“What should I do to prepare for long-term missions?”
A few years ago I was sitting at a round table with several freshman college students. We were in the middle of the Midwest, eating ice cream on a frigid day in January, because, you know, that’s how much we love ice cream in the Midwest.
We were just getting to know each other when one of the guys asked me this question.
“Wow,” I wondered. “What did they put in this ice cream?”
Even though I was at a Christian university during their missions conference, I was a bit surprised.
3 Minute Read
By Matt Whitacre
I suspect they were looking for something like “learn another language” or “get involved with international students” or “go on a mission trip and see what the world is really like.”
After all, I was (and still am) dedicating my life to disciple people as they follow God’s call through short-term mission trips. I definitely want to encourage cross-cultural involvement as people discover God’s heart for the nations.
But that day the Holy Spirit gave me a different response.
“Get to know God and work on your character.”
Here’s why. The same God you seek direction from now is the same God who promises to rescue people from every tribe and language. He is the author and finisher of the mission. He is the father of our global Christian family. How well you know him is directly proportional to how well you can tell others about him. And in fact, he is the good news of the gospel.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3, NIV)
“To belong to God and to be with him is our ultimate hope.”
As you get to know God, your desire to be like him will grow. “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).
Another way to say, “work on your character” is “pursue holiness.”
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16, quoting Leviticus 11:44).
This holiness, this reflecting God’s character, is an integral part of your witness. It is a key part of discipleship, as we point others to the truly Holy One. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 NIV)
As I watch missionaries come and go from the field it is clear to me that nothing magical happens when people finally arrive in foreign countries. Of course God is the same, but so are you.
The relationship you had with God in your home country is the same one you will have in a different land. The character you formed in a familiar culture is the character you will take with you to a foreign one.
Not one of us is perfect and we all depend on his grace to cover our shortcomings. But we still have to ask ourselves, Do I want others to know God the same way I know him? Does my life, my character, point people to the Holy and Righteous God?
Whether you are serving God in a local or a global context, through short-term trips or long-term commitment, may God grant you the grace to know him more and may that knowledge lead to a life that makes him known.
If you’re wondering if you are ready to apply for long-term service, contact us and we will connect you with a ministry coach who can pray with you about next steps. Get Started Here
Matt has been part of Serve Asia since 2013. When not serving Asia, Matt enjoys spending time with his family and ministering with his church in Aurora, Colorado.