Mission trips: what does a child think? Do they think about them at all? I have answers to both questions. And it’s insightful! But you should know from the start that you can view this post in one of two ways. First, it is possible for a child to teach us because Isaiah 11 speaks of the leadership of a child. Second, you can dismiss all of this as the musings of a proud father and grandfather. If so, tune in next time! But if you’re still here, take a peek at a post by my latest and youngest guest writer, Aiden.
Mission Trips: I Want To Go
I don’t know the exact instructions for the writing assignment. But I can guess from the content that the grade school class was given the option to write about a subject of their choice. And Aiden apparently chose to write about mission trips.
So let’s begin with a question. How far does one have to go to be on a mission trip? I have this discussion often with various church groups. Aiden apparently has the understanding I try to instill in adults. His opening line includes:
I noticed some people in need. I knew I had to help them, but how?
Our mission ‘trip’ is as far as the next person we meet. Does that preclude going far away? No. But going far away shouldn’t exclude the person next door or the one around the corner. Too many adults see these option as either/or instead of both/and. A child’s innocence points the way again.
Mission Trips: Help Is Needed
Can a child pull off a mission trip even if they have an abundant desire to go? You know they can’t. A child readily admits his/her inability to do something. They are not ashamed to ask for help because that is a routine part of a child’s life. And here is how Aiden expressed that idea:
Then I remembered my grandfather was a pastor. I knew he could help.
My thoughts immediately land in two places. Didn’t Jesus say we should all come to Him like children? Yes, He did. But somehow Christians think that is just His initial requirement. They mistakenly think that after they come to Him they can then revert to their independent and/or self-sufficient ways. We can’t. How do I know? Jesus said:
I Am the vine, you are the branches. Apart from Me you can do nothing.
My ‘patented’ Burnett paraphrase is: Apart from Me you can’t do squat! That looks to me like a pretty good reason to always have Lord, help me on the end of my tongue! And a child gets this. We can learn from them.
Mission Trips: Different Things
And my young guest writer then mentions languages, food, and music. Those are the things of culture. And I often have to instruct mission volunteers about those very things. And these are some of the things that define and characterize the people of missions. Why do I say it that way? People are always the mission. They were always Jesus’ mission. Everything else about Kingdom work is a tool to help or reach people. Our tools are medical teams, construction projects, water purification projects and training pastors just to name a few. But none of those things are the mission. They are tools to reach people in many cultures. And there are adults that need to view these elements of culture with the same eye of excitement that Aiden has exhibited.
Mission Trips: The Real God
Two big things come next. Along with wanting to experience culture, Aiden offered this:
People need to know about the real God…I also need to teach people how to talk to God.
What do you see there? A child recognizes there are false gods in the world; many of them. But the Living God is the One we proclaim. Now, if that’s true then it is incumbent upon all people everywhere to know this God. How do we get to know someone? We talk to them.
As Aiden’s grandfather I’m awfully proud to see the next statement. But as a pastor and teacher I am even more blessed. Why? Because he recognized his personal responsibility to teach others about the Lord. In this sentence he did not do what many adult church members do: call the pastors and expect them to do the work. Kingdom work is for all of us. Our first thoughts about it ought to begin with the same personal reference Aiden used: I.
My primary job, and your pastor’s job, is to equip saints to do the work of the ministry. If I don’t do that then I am enabling them to be spiritually crippled and ineffective. Furthermore, people who are not equipped to engage for Kingdom causes are robbed of the blessings that could otherwise be theirs! O what can we learn from a child!
Mission Trips: Future Work
This summer we have a mission team that will include Aiden’s oldest brother and one of his cousins. Both of these boys are in their early teens. And in another 3-4 years I expect to be able to help Aiden realize the things he wrote about at school. You please pray we get that opportunity.
There is one more thing not known to anyone but me. I had the privilege of baptizing Aiden and his older brothers. Many people saw that. No one heard the prayers I prayed for them before I baptized them. I don’t intend to reveal it here. And I cannot explain why I remember the prayer for Aiden so vividly other than to say I truly believe it was a God thing. But as soon as I read his note (pictured below) that prayer came flooding back to my mind.
We know that the One Who began a good work in each of us is faithful to complete it. So would you pray for the Lord to complete the work He began in my youngest guest writer? That’s also a good prayer for every believer you know. And you might do well to ask that the eyes of your heart will be opened for the mission trips that are yours today…
Soli Deo Gloria!