Writing is a deeply personal thing for me. I made my roommate read the blog post I wrote below before sending it to my organization’s marketing department for scrutiny. My hands were shaking as I clicked send and my heart is racing as I do the same for this post.
As a logistics coordinator for short-term missions, I am constantly encouraged by the faith of the missionaries I work with. Most times I feel like they have more to teach me than I can teach them! Recently, a short-term missionary I have been working with came to me with one of the most beautiful questions I’ve been asked during my time with TEAM: “How can I bless my home church through my mission trip?”
My heart soared. What an example of Christ’s love for his unified body! Here at TEAM, one of our highest values is the church—engaging churches both in our hometowns and those reaching the ends of the earth to foster communities where the gospel is known and spread. It is encouraging to know our short-term missionaries are just as passionate about raising up the church as we are.
Together we brainstormed the ways this short-term missionary could bless her church in Canada with her time serving in Mexico. As we dreamed, I realized this is something all missionaries could strive for—especially those going short-term who want their trip’s impact to spread beyond their return back home.
So if you are preparing to serve overseas (or would like to know how to encourage your local church in general), I challenge you to consider a few of these ideas to bless your home church with your international mission trip:
- Commit to prayer
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14
When was the last time you prayed for your home church? For the pastors to be strengthened in their marriages or the nonbelievers who visit to be touched by the gospel? This is a practice that is important at any time, but can be especially life-giving when following the Lord in his plan for you with missions. As you gather prayer support from your church family, ask how you can pray for them in return. Set aside time to pray specifically for these requests as part of your ministry before even entering your international ministry area.
- Engage others
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5
Let’s say you are going to France for a few months as part of a sports outreach with teenagers who desperately need someone to walk alongside them in discipleship. While you are excited to fill this role, you are worried that your two years of high school French classes won’t cut it when trying to have meaningful conversations with the students. At your home church one Sunday, you meet a woman who lived in France for years and is fluent in the language! Asking if she could help tutor you in French could not only bless you and your ministry in France, but also is a practical way for your new friend to use her gifts to further the kingdom.
God has given each of his children specific gifts and talents to be used for his glory and advancement of the kingdom. This could be a great way for people to practically support your ministry who are not able to financially contribute. Your mission trip can be more than an opportunity for your own gifts to be utilized, but a way to engage other members of your local church to put their God-given gifts into practice.
- Share your story
It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. Daniel 4:2
Just as your ministry starts before you jump on the airplane, it also doesn’t have to end when you get home. God loves to use time we set aside in service for his kingdom to teach, challenge, and inspire his children and it is the word of our testimony that conquers the enemy. Don’t be afraid to ask to stand before your church to share the way God has changed lives through your service. Boldly start conversation with supporters about the provision he granted in ways you didn’t even ask for. God will use these experiences to influence your heart, but could also have more plans for your stories than you could expect. Ask the Lord for opportunities to share the stories he has given you through your mission trip to multiply the impact of his work in your life.
- Foster a partnership
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 1 Corinthians 1:10
The body of Christ is a single unit that cannot be divided by cultural, language, or geographical differences. In God’s sovereignty, it is entirely possible he is using you, short-term missionary, to provide a bridge between two churches to partner together in providing for each other’s needs. Perhaps through your time serving alongside missionaries in Guatemala, a need is expressed that someone in your church back home is the perfect fit to fulfill. Keep your eyes open for God’s prompting or opportunities to be a vessel uniting his people in one thought or purpose.