Five Reasons for Summer Missions:

4pWrveJThis is the time of year many university students begin applying for summer missions internships.

Here are a couple of really great summer missions options:

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Five Great Reasons to Participate In Summer Missions:

  1. Grow in faith: Getting out of your comfort zone is a really powerful way to grow in faith. By intentionally following God into an environment where you will be stretched to rely on him daily, you put yourself in a position to grow deeper in understanding of your need of him. Begin by prayerfully asking God to use your missions experience to break you out of your comfortable spaces and to use it to reveal your heart, your motivations, your places of assumption, your tendencies in the direction of sinful pride and self-reliance, your lack of generosity and so much more. Ask God to show you how your desire to have your own way often trumps your desire to serve. Even the process of preparing to leave can begin growing your faith. You may have to ask family and friends to help fund your trip. You may have to forgo other summer options. As God leads you through the process of preparing, leaving and then into serving you will have opportunity after opportunity to grow your ability and readiness to trust in God and put his plans above your own. You will not be disappointed. Missions experiences are fertile places for God to work and grow your faith.
  2. Grow in courage: Getting out of your usual cultural and language context requires continually being willing to step into discomfort and risk. It may be easy to think that joining a mission team for the summer requires taking one courageous step, but instead every day of serving in an uncomfortable context requires mustering your courage and facing risk, insecurity and struggle. Being willing to be vulnerable and unsure is not an easy thing to take on, nor is being unable to speak fluently while navigating a foreign city. Doing these things becomes easier when you take them on with other members of your team who know what it is like and support you as you take on these risks for the sake of sharing the gospel. And, make sure you have compassion for your family. Watching you take on these risks may be hard for them and may require them to grow in courage as well.
  3. Grow in Understanding:
    1. You will grow to understand yourself in ways you didn’t think possible. You will find you have strengths and weaknesses you never knew about. You will learn where your limits are and what things really push your buttons. You will learn you can endure much more than you thought possible.
    2. You will grow to know and love your teammates through shared struggle and joy. They may drive you crazy at times but most people forge lifetime friendships during missions experiences.
    3. You will grow in understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your own culture in ways you were previously unable to perceive. We all have blind spots about our own cultural assumptions. Being immersed in a different culture has a way of showing us these places so we can see more clearly and learn from what we see.
    4. You will grow to understand and love your host culture in ways that will likely surprise you. Maybe the food you hated during your first week of your trip will be what you crave most when you get back home. Or maybe you will miss the one teammate who pushed you to grow in ways you didn’t want to face. There are always surprises that get revealed as you travel to a host land and encounter her people, culture, food, language and climate.
  4. Grow in sacrifice: Intentionally taking on the struggle of traveling into a distant land for the sake of loving people in the name of Jesus requires sacrifice. The only way to grow in your capacity to sacrifice your own agenda and plans for the sake of service is to get started and prayerfully trust God to make much of your small steps. Being faithful in small ways grows your capacity to give more generously for his sake. He is faithful and will take your willing heart and grow it in the direction of greater sacrifice. Being on a mission team where intentional discipleship takes place is a great and fertile place to watch God grow your capacity to serve with sacrificial love.
  5. Grow in perseverance: All the above types of growth require staying with the process, especially through all the uncomfortable places you will encounter during summer missions. Going on a mission trip for one week is a great start but nearly anyone can endure the challenges of a one-week trip. Becoming a missions intern and serving for a whole summer provides an immersion experience where the potential for physical, emotional, spiritual and mental discomfort expands in ways that will challenge even the most easygoing of people. These challenging situations provide great fertility for the soil of your soul and heightened opportunities for God to work in you through your team members and internship leaders who seek to disciple your heart. Trust that by taking on a summer mission internship you are putting yourself into soul-training that will grow not only your faith and your courage but also your understanding and your ability to sacrifice for the gospel. Trust, especially, that God will be using the whole of the summer to push you into walking out your growth in a sustained way for many weeks driving your roots deeper so your maturity becomes more firmly established.

DSC01766 copyOne not-so-good Reason to go on Summer Mission:

Tourism:

  • Sometimes, I’m asked if there is ever a wrong reason to join a summer missions team. I will say up-front that we all have mixed motives, even when we think we are doing the most righteous thing for the most holy of reasons. That being said, if your PRIMARY motivation for going to a far away place to serve with a mission team is to partake in exotic travel then you will probably find the experience very frustrating–and your missions team will likely find you very frustrating as well. Be honest with yourself and share your goals and motivations with your missions team, your family and your financial and prayer supporters. Some degree of tourism is usually built in to the missions experience as part of learning the history, culture and language of the host country. At other times, university students follow their missions experience with a time of personal travel with family or friends. This helps to keep tourism in its rightful place and prevents ulterior motives from spoiling the missions experience. Of course, your budget and family will have a say in all these matters so sharing your ideas, hopes and plans with them is an important part of the process.

Finally, before going on any mission trip, it’s a good idea to ask detailed questions about the trip and your own motivations. This article from August will help you think through many helpful questions:

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