Sunday, July 24, 2011

Short-Term Missions: The Importance of Spiritual Preparations

Do you think it’s crazy to make a list of every single outfit you plan to wear on a trip? My students seemed to think I was nuts, but it ensured that I had the exact number of outfits necessary. No more. No less. (It also prevented me from having any “repeats” in photos of the trip...because trust me, people notice)!

Preparations for traveling internationally are significant. Fund-raising, sending thank-you notes, getting a passport, planning, packing, purchasing needed supplies, figuring out what electrical fixtures you need and how you’re going to spend money…it’s a lot of details. But if you’re not careful, these preparations can quickly distract you from spiritual preparations.

The enemy would love you to have a great tour of a new place, discovering great new shops and souvenirs, but never doing a thing to benefit the Gospel! Spiritual preparations help you to create focus before you go, and to maintain your focus while you are there.

As I mentioned previously, we required the team members to go through a series of devotionals before, during and after the trip. These devotionals focused on the cost of ministry, cultural lessons from Scripture, and a range of other relevant topics. We also had a daily prayer focus that linked the Bible study with our trip.

Making the “spiritual journey” a priority allows hearts and minds to be open for what God wants to do in and through us. That’s one of the greatest adventures of a trip like this – you do a lot of planning and preparing, but ultimately, you have no idea what God is going to do!

As a matter of chat…

Have you ever been in a situation so “new” that you were forced to be more open to God’s leading? How did it feel? What did you learn? Do you typically get distracted by life’s planning and preparations? How much of a priority is the spiritual journey in your life?

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