In about a week, KCM will host its annual Missions Rally Night (March 9th at Living Hope Community Church for those who are interested!) where our past short-term summer missions teams will gather to share about how God is mightily working all across the world. There will be a time of worship, team testimonies, a snack booth for each country, and a time where I, as the missions director, will be able to share why you should consider going on STSM this summer. I encourage everyone to come, whether you are considering short-term missions or not, in hopes of seeing a better glimpse of the sovereign and good God we serve through the fellowship of His people.
Missions Rally Night is a night where we mobilize for STSM for the glory of God. In our obedience and in the preaching of the Gospel to the nations, we understand God is glorified (Matthew 5:16). While this is something I hope that every collegian comes to see through His grace, I also pray that God may give us a spirit of wisdom when we consider how we are supposed to enter into this obedience. Although I would absolutely love for KCM to produce more short-term, mid-term and long-term missionaries overseas, I know that God is calling us to seek His wisdom that He is so willing to generously provide (James 1:5).
Therefore, before considering giving up your summer, or a couple of months, or even your life to overseas missions, consider asking yourself the following questions before committing yourself to the next big steps.
Is your decision a joint decision?
If you do sign up for STSM this year (or if you have in the past), you’ll notice that we ask for many references. We do this for two main reasons: that you have demonstrated relational/emotional maturity to those around you (which is crucial in the work of missions), and that you understand what it means to submit under the institution in which God has died for (the church). Missions, whether short-term or long-term, was never meant to be done as a solo endeavor. Thus, we ask for references because it is crucial, as trainees and as future missionaries, to have the support of our friends, family, and local church through prayer and accountability.
I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard of students who have handed their pastor or family member a support letter, only to be met with shock and confusion because this was the first time they heard about this trip. If you are considering going on missions, please let those around you know now. Ask them to speak into your life. Is this a good decision? If others don’t think it’s a good decision, what are some factors that can help you convince others of your readiness to go out? How can you prepare in a way that will garner the support of those around you?
Granted, while there are many instances in which counsel from those around us can be bad advice, we oftentimes don’t seek the counsel of those important around us because we don’t want to submit to the accountability they can bring us. While Christ calls us to love Him above all other things (Luke 14), we should not go and preach about the call to follow Christ if we don’t listen to his teachings about honoring our parents or seeking the wisdom of others. We should not go to the nations and preach about how Christ died for the church without demonstrating our love for it in our own lives.
Do you understand the goal of missions and the work of missionaries?
The word “missions” has been thrown around a lot in our culture and age. Although I would never consider myself an expert on the matter of missions, I will say that through a combination of personal experience on the field and conversing with missionaries, missions-work can be summed up under three categories: evangelism, discipleship, and church-planting. In Acts 14 verses 21-23, we see that this is how Luke describes the work Paul and Barnabas did on their own mission trip. They preached the Gospel (v. 21, evangelism), strengthened the souls of the disciples (v. 22, discipleship), and appointed elders (v. 23, set up a church structure).
As Christians, there are a great number of things God calls us to do when He calls us to love our neighbors and serve those around us in this world. Fighting human trafficking, feeding the poor, finding homes for refugees; while all of these tasks are noble and worthy pursuits that can even contribute to the work of missions and bring God glory in their own right, I hope we can be clear on what God is really calling us to do when it comes to missions. Short-term trainees should do all they can to preach the Gospel to those they meet on the mission field, continually pointing those people to missionaries and churches that can continue to do that work when they are long-gone.
Do you demonstrate the desire to share the Gospel with non-Christians? (and can you articulate it?)
Whether you are going out short-term this summer or considering long-term in the future, I hope you understand that stepping foot into a foreign country isn’t going to magically make you a determined and seasoned evangelist. Too often we think to ourselves, “once I go out on the mission field, I’ll start sharing the Gospel.” What actually ends up happening is that the month-long mission trip that our supporters spent $3600 for us to go on becomes a month-long struggle where we can’t find the courage or words to articulate the Gospel that we were sent there to preach. It is of utmost importance that we are able to share about Christ’s life, death and resurrection, of the Fall, of God’s redemptive plan, and the glory to come. It is important not in just an evangelistic sense, but for our personal faith as well.
Now, I’m not writing this point to scare off or guilt-trip any Christian reading this who are considering going to STSM. This is exactly why the STSM program offers a 10-week training for the trainees. We want to make sure that our trainees know the importance of sharing the Gospel and possess the practical tools to preach it, but I would love it if those who signed up for our program were already praying for the desire and eagerness to proclaim Jesus’ name to those around them. I would love it if these prospective trainees and future missionaries were already seeking and participating in opportunities to share the Gospel in their immediate contexts. If we are not eager and able to share our faith here, a 30 hour plane ride across the world is not going to make us more eager or able.
There are obviously so many more things that I wish I could expand upon when it comes to considering long-term and short-term missions (and the contacts we visit through our program would probably have much more to to say as well), but I hope that you may take my humble opinions and pray over these considerations, and know that we as a staff are praying for you all as well. May you all grow in humility, courage, and wisdom as we take on God’s call together under His leading.