Sheri Oetman is the author of this week’s blog. She attends Rush Creek Bible Church in Byron Center, MI. She is married to Duane Oetman and is the mother of 6. For the summer of 2012 she and her husband took their entire family on a missions trip to our GMI field in Tanzania for 6 weeks where they ministered in a variety of ways. She has been asked to share the effects missions has on children as she saw it effect her 6 children in different ways.
In the day-to-day life of family, we teach our kids to do their best and to love others. But, it may be asked, “for what?” Each of us is created by God. Those of us blessed to bear His name have a purpose far bigger than ourselves. A mission trip or a weekly/monthly mission offers countless life lessons for young and old. Knowing our place in God’s Kingdom, in this world, and discovering our purpose and His plan enables us to do our best and love others for Him.
TRUE JOY is in service, as Christ, who we represent and strive to emulate says in Matthew 20:26 – 28 “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave. Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
PURPOSE – The gifts and talents God has blessed each of us and our children with is not for our own wealth, gain, and fame. But, 1 Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Ephesians 2:10 “for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” If we can learn to see our physical, intellectual, and spiritual gifts as gifts, there is no room for pride. Rather it becomes a search for how to bless others and share our gifts, being used to bring people to the joy of living life with the Gift Giver – then we have discovered our purpose.
LIGHT – Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world.” We cannot shine the light of peace, hope, and salvation into the dark places of the world by staying home. Whether it is to a broken home, an orphanage, the ghetto, a nursing home, a hospital, or a faraway land, Christ’s light shines through His people. Jesus was not afraid or judgmental of the lost, but rather went to them. Spending time with others from different countries, homes, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, etc. can help us and our kids understand and love all people as Christ did.
TRUST/FAITH – Following Christ into the dark places of the world requires faith. When we go into an unknown or uncomfortable place and live through experiences where God protects and guides us, our faith naturally grows and carries us through the trials of life. 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.”
COURAGE – Safety, comfort, and security are such sought after commodities, but in order to achieve those, one would need to live a fairly sedentary life. People of God may live a courageous and fearless life of adventure because they are unafraid to suffer for a cause greater than themselves. We are striving for an eternal joy that is not physical. Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. “ Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.”
HUMILITY – So many people who suffer spiritually, physically, and financially still have joy and peace in the Lord. When a “mission trip” is to a Christian person or group in need of food, medicine, buildings, physical labor, etc., the missionary is often most blessed. Weak and suffering Christians are often great warriors for Christ and build up and encourage their brothers and sisters in the faith, who came to serve them.
GRATITUDE – God has blessed us so richly. In our busy days we can forget to be thankful to the giver of all gifts. Spending time with people who need a gift we have produces gratitude. Mission trips provide opportunities to serve others who have less freedoms, healthcare, finances, health, food, education, family love, etc. Not only are we able to meet each other’s needs while introducing them to the giver of eternal life, we acquire a heart of joy and gratitude for blessings that are often taken for granted or forgotten.
LOVE – Romans 13: 9b “And whatever other commandments there may be are summed up in this one rule, love your neighbor as yourself.” God loved us so much he died for us. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God loves us right where we are, even in our broken and sinful state, enough to literally lay down his life. When we give a piece of our life (time, talents, resources), we are a small reflection of Christ’s perfect love. This reflection will draw people to Christ, the pure, true source of love. A mission trip offers an opportunity to practice and learn real love which is not to satisfy oneself, but to give of oneself.
FUN – A mission trip can be a lot of fun spending time going on an adventure for a greater purpose. Finally, 1 Timothy 4:12 “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” Children have such a strong pure faith and strength and joy; they can set an example in service and discipleship. I pray our kids will grasp a hold of these lessons from past mission trips and continue to boldly live life on a MISSION FOR HIM.