6 Things You Won't Want to Leave Behind
There are plenty of things you’ll take home from your mission trip. Things like dirty clothes, your favorite pillow, that thing you bought and an awesome new T-shirt. Even if you packed your bags with plenty of care, there might be something important you missed.
In fact, this whole trip was planned so you wouldn’t forget a few important items. Check out these six things for you to take home, and make sure you’re not leaving anything important behind.
You just took a trip and served a community for an entire week! You probably met some fairly interesting people, and maybe you even encountered Jesus in a new way. You have a story to share. Think about how you’ll tell it, where you’ll tell it and who you’ll tell it to. Some people will give you five seconds, others will listen for five minutes and a couple people will listen for hours! Think about what might happen if, instead of sharing a story about what you did, you shared a story about what God did in and through you. Choose your words carefully, and spread the story God has given you.
During your trip, you might have seen new stuff or done things you never experienced before. Even though the trip is over, you might still have some big questions that you don’t have answers to. It’s OK to have questions! It’s alright to wonder “why?” and “what if?” and “how on earth?” and “what’s my place?” Take time to think about your questions. Talk to God about them. Then, go find a leader, some friends or your family to share them with.
Who did you get to know better this week? Who did you laugh with? Cry on? Get a note from? Share something with? Serve alongside? Those people are valuable! The fact that they were with you during your trip is meaningful. Don’t walk away from the relationships you built this week.
Maybe some of those relationships didn’t travel home with you. Maybe you met a child in the community or you got to know someone you served. Think about how you can “bring home” those relationships. Perhaps it’s by writing a letter, sending a gift or praying for them. Or maybe – just maybe – it means going back to the community you served and continuing to build those relationships.
When you devote yourself to something, you commit to it. You set aside distractions and focus. This week you devoted time to Jesus by focusing on him each morning, and you devoted your energy to serving others. Now, as you head home, what will you devote to? Everyone devotes their lives to something: money, grades, TV, friends, popularity, sports, addictions…
But you are meant to be different. This week you had the chance to devote yourself to Jesus. How will you take your devotion to Jesus home with you? It might begin with five minutes of prayer, a few verses of Scripture or a small act of service. It might be seeking Jesus in quiet moments on your own, or it might be talking and worshiping among friends. However you start, let your devotion to Jesus fill your thoughts, your actions and your life.
It’s awesome to take a week out of your summer to go serve people you’ve never met in a community you’ve never been to. Maybe you felt like you really made a difference or that you were able to truly love someone you served during your week. Maybe you’ll even miss them and wish you could go back.
Well, you can go back… but you could also stay home. Here’s the truth: You don’t need to drive to another community to find people who need to be loved. They live across town from you… and just down the street… probably even under the same roof. Take the service you did and try doing it back in your own community. You can participate in what God is doing by serving the people closest to home.
You now have this great story about devoting a week to Jesus to serve and love others. Back home, don’t pretend the things you learned never happened. If you’ve heard God telling you to make a change, you need to do it! The Bible says if you don’t make that change, you’re like a guy who looks in the mirror, realizes there’s something wrong, but walks away and never does anything to fix it (James 1:21–25). That would be a little silly!
Instead, chase after change! It doesn’t magically happen. It takes work, prayer and someone to walk with you through it. Talk to one of your leaders and tell him or her how you want to be different after this trip. Remember, Jesus is inviting you to step out in incredible ways. You were meant to be part of what God is doing in the world – in and through God’s people as they follow Jesus.