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“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”

James Hudson Taylor

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20

This is a passage known as The Great Commission.  It captures some of the last words Jesus shared with his disciples.

I’m not a theologian, but I interpret part of this to mean we are supposed to share Christ and His love at home and abroad.

When people hear that my family is involved in short-term missions in Guatemala, they sometimes ask why we need to go so far away to serve others.  They point to the incredible need in the United States, and they don’t understand why in the world anyone needs to travel so far away and “waste” so much money to serve people elsewhere.  Some also point to the perceived inefficiency and ineffectiveness of overseas short-term missions.  (I’ll try to address that in a future post.)

I can’t be everywhere at the same time, and I definitely won’t have an opportunity to serve and make disciples in all nations; however, I can do for one or for a few what I want to do for everyone.  And if every Christian develops this mindset, we can actually reach all nations.  Our family makes a point of serving in our local community (this is one of the reasons we started H.O.P.E.), but we also try to intentionally invest outside of our local community and around the world.

Short-term missions provides the opportunity to live out part of the Great Commission.

If you and your family are looking for ways to make the Great Commission a greater reality in your lives, you might want to consider these ideas:

4 Ways to Make the Great Commission a Reality in Your Life

  1. SERVE – Serve in your local community.  You can serve at soup kitchens, shelters, food pantries, and nursing homes.  There are hundreds of ways to practically share the love of Christ right where you live.  Open your eyes.  Get involved.  Serve!
  2. GIVE – Give your financial resources to support others who are sharing Christ’s love.  Give to your local church first.  Then look for organizations or missionaries to bless with the overflow of your finances.  If you need help in figuring this out, you should check out organizations like Compassion International, CMF International, Lifeline Christian Mission, and Casas por Cristo.  In the wake of the recent catastrophe in Houston, you might want to check out IDES (International Disaster Emergency Service).  People don’t like to talk about money, but finances are one of the key ingredients for making life change possible at home and overseas.  Don’t underestimate that power of your gift to help others know the love of Christ.
  3. PRAY – Pray.  It seems simple, but prayer is essential to sharing Christ’s love around the world.  Pray for missionaries who are serving.  Pray for wisdom, for energy, for boldness, and for protection.  Pray for those being served.  Pray for God’s provision, for open hearts and minds, and for wholeness and healing.
  4. GO – Sign up today to go on a short-term missions trip.  My words can only give you a small glimmer into the power and effectiveness of a short-term missions trip on the lives of others and on your life.  Don’t just take my word for it.  Start planning your trip now.

Does the Great Commission involve more than short-term missions?  Yes.  The Great Commission talks about baptizing and teaching.  These are other important areas for you to discuss and discover.  Many people do not feel equipped to teach and baptize, and they use that feeling as an excuse not to serve others and to get involved.  The Great Commission was meant for the disciples and for you if you call yourself a Christ-follower.  If stepping into short-term missions scares you, remember the last sentence.  Christ is with you!

What are you doing to make The Great Commission a reality in your life?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  

It’s been nearly a week since I returned home from Guatemala, and I’m still in recovery.

The other day, I mentioned that I might have a case of post mission trip depression.  A good friend said that was a real thing.  I’m not sure if I’m all together depressed, but I’m definitely dealing with some feelings I don’t normally have.  My stomach has been a little unsettled that past few days which could be a result of a couple of meals I tried toward the end of my visit – namely the street side tacos from San Raymundo or the meal I enjoyed at the house dedication.  Beyond that, I’ve missed the team we spent the week with in Guatemala.  I’ve also been pondering the next moves in building more homes for widows.  And I’m feeling the realities of being thrust back into a high pressure, fast paced world after being in a low pressure, slower paced Guatemala.  I’m confident things will improve in the coming days, but these feelings got me thinking that I’m probably not alone.

Today, I want to give you some advice on how to overcome a case of post mission trip depression.  (And by the way, I’m writing this for myself too.)

8 Ways to Overcome Post Mission Trip Depression

  1. Find a way to serve in your local community.  Serving around the world in places like Guatemala is important, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be serving right in our own communities.  When we serve others, it uplifts the people we are serving and us.
  2. Share your story with others.  Don’t let your mission trip story fade into the past.  By sharing your story, you may inspire others to serve others, and you get the benefit of reliving your experience.
  3. Get some sleep.  Typically, a missions trip throws your internal clock for a loop.  It’s important to get appropriate sleep to help you return to the “normalcy” of your typical routine.
  4. Schedule time to get together with your team.  If you served with a group of people, you should consider setting time aside to get together with the team.  Maybe it starts with dinner out with some of the friends you just met.  It would also be a good idea to schedule a “reunion gathering” for your team to share pictures, stories, and general feedback on the return to home.
  5. Don’t forget to eat.  Food is often the key ingredient to keeping us emotionally stable.  Make sure you take time to eat.
  6. Get some exercise.  Even a walk in the park can do wonders for our emotional health.  Make sure you get out and exercise when you come home from a mission trip.
  7. Read a good book about missions trips or about serving other people.  This fall, I’ll be releasing my next book, Rooftop Reflections – Missional Thoughts of an Ordinary Guy from an Extraordinary Place.  I’ll share more about this in the coming weeks.  This kind of book can keep your brain on the right wavelength as you try to remember your experience and as you try to find ways to apply it in your everyday world.
  8. Start planning your next mission trip.  Why wait until next year to sign up for a trip?  Start fundraising now.  Start collecting donations to give to the widows, the orphans, and the poor you might be serving in the future.  Take an active role in getting ready for another trip to serve others.

I’m already feeling a little bit better just thinking about taking these actions.

How have you handled your thoughts and feelings upon returning home from a missions trip or life-changing experience?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2