You Are On A Mission Trip - You Just Don't Know It
When you think of a “mission trip” your mind probably goes to exotic locations, working in harsh conditions, providing work that somehow can’t be done by those that are being ministered to. We think automatically of the “third world” or as we now say, economically disadvantaged countries. We think we have the answers or at least we want to have them.
The truth is, we should lead each day as if we were on a mission trip and at the same time we should live as though those around us are ministering to us. I know, it’s a bit radical. How can I live everyday as though I am on a mission trip? When I am at work I am at work, I don’t have time to think about anything except the work I am tasked with doing. When I am at school, I need to study, to pay attention, to get good grades. What kind of mission trip would it be if it were to my school or job? Who would I help? What good would I be able to do anyway?
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What is a ‘mission trip’ if not, at its core, bringing the light, love and peace of Christ to those around us. We are presented with myriad opportunities to do this each day. Sometimes these chances will make us uncomfortable, will force us to extend ourselves beyond where we are comfortable. Ministering is not about comfort, however, it is about extending Christ to another. What better way to do that then to extend a helping hand to someone in need.
This past week I witnessed Christ in the young adults that I was privileged to serve with at Catholic Heart Workcamp, a weeklong mission trip to the exotic location of Pittsburgh, PA. Our physical tasks were pretty simple - we scraped and painted 336 metal posts that ran the perimeter of a church’s property and we moved tons of stone (yes, tons). Nothing bonds you together like filling a front-loader full of heavy stones! Yet, it was not in the physical work that I experienced ‘mission’, it was in the interactions with each of the members of our group that I was able to see and experience Christ. Here are just a few examples:
- Hunter taking the time each time a car drove up to the donation bins to spend time with the elderly driver, assist them with their donation, talk to them and make them smile.
- Kristen and Quinn spending time with Miss Rose, a member of the “Over 50” club although she could easily have been a member of the “Over 80” club.
- “Nicky” charming a sweet ‘older’ woman.
- Quinn, Nick and Hunter being in awe of the team of woman making rosary beads.
- Matthew, Madisan and Alyssa listening and soaking up the attention of the table as they were told they were wonderful reminders of their own grand-children.
- Watching Bonny and Mary working the rock pile.
You see, we were sent to the church to assist with painting, scraping and moving rocks but it was the unexpected opportunities that truly allowed us to minister - and to be ministered to. Life is like that - we just need to be open to the possibility. Whether we are at work, at school or at home we are on a mission trip. We are the hands and feet, the arms and legs, the lips and ears of Christ. This is what it means to be ‘full fledged’ - to take every opportunity to be Christ for another.
I challenged my youth group after we got back home to not let the mission trip end. It is the same challenge that I throw out to you now. Today, tomorrow, the next day, do something awesome. Do something worthy of the gifts that you have been given. Do something that spreads the light of Christ to those around you. Live as though you were both on a mission trip and as if you are being ministered to. You won’t regret it.
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