My wife Jeannie and I traveled to India in March for our first mission trip to that country. At Camp Global last summer, Jeannie and American Baptist missionary Deb Mulneix began discussing some of the needs present in North East India. One of those needs was training for church and convention librarians in document preservation. India has a rich history of missions, but many of the written records for that history are in very poor shape and are deteriorating rapidly. Our heritage is important to us, but for the people of India it is even more so. It not only helps them remember their past, but uses their past to inspire them for the future. Jeannie agreed to travel there to provide the necessary training. Also, last spring the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India (CBCNEI) began offering training to children’s workers in evangelism and outreach. The CBCNEI has a vision for focusing ministry upon the “4/14 window,” which means the population group between the ages of 4 and 14. They believe these ages are the most fertile for evangelism and discipleship. I agreed to lead a second training workshop on child evangelism for a broader range of church leaders.
The trip went smoothly and quickly. God moved in the training events, and mission partnerships began that will inspire Christians in both countries. As a result, more souls will be won to Christ and churches will be strengthened. Jeannie and I plan to return to North East India early in 2011, perhaps taking a team with us.
One question I get when it comes to international missions is, “Why spend all that money to travel and help people in another country, when we have needs right here at home? Shouldn’t we help our own first?” We need to look no further than the book of Acts for the answer. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This one verse gives us an outline of the rest of the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit worked through the early church to cross cultural, ethnic, racial, lingual, religious and geographical barriers to advance the kingdom of God. There certainly were needs in Jerusalem when Peter made his trip to the home of Cornelius in Caesarea, but God’s mandate was to go, to serve and to share. When he returned to Jerusalem, the church there was enlightened and encouraged as a result. There certainly were needs in the towns Paul left as he embarked upon his missionary journeys, but the Holy Spirit was compelling him and his companions to go, to serve and to share. When they returned, others were inspired by the wonders God performed and the relationships that were established.
The bottom line is that churches here at home reap tremendous spiritual and emotional benefits from short-term mission trips. Being on mission for God is the Biblical way to do ministry, and the Biblical way is always the best way. Our mission may be on the other side of the city or on the other side of the world, but God’s command is clear: we are to go, to serve and to share in Jesus’ name.