I stood praising in my loose meriblouse, blinking back tears in the humid air, guitars strumming music deep, passionate, transporting to the heavenly realm. Air so electric with God’s presence, you almost expected the cockatoo staggering around the concrete floor to open his mouth with a message from on high, and yet tomorrow we were going home. Going away from this life changing experience in Papua New Guinea, back to Australia and the middle of a cold winter. Back to homeschooling, books and learning, and being stuck on a farm 40km from town. How could I change the world then?
I didn’t know then that best preparations for world changing can happen in a ‘spiritual desert’, pushing you to dig deep into God for the water of His Word. Thirst can do that to one.
It’s exactly ten years now since I returned from my first mission trip and I wanted to write about 5 Things Not to do When You Come Home from a Missions Trip. My husband and I have now been on 8 missions trips to 5 different countries, (we’re yet to go on one together) and this is what we’ve learnt. I hope it helps you or someone you know headed on a short term, or long term missions trip.
1. Don’t Let Your Guard Down
Likely while you were on your trip you were daily praying for God’s protection and guidance as you were visibly facing spiritual warfare. We come home and sometimes we can get a bit blasé or complacent or forget. This is when an attack from the enemy can creep in. This could be anything from a car accident, to your computer blowing up, your health or finances or just little snipey things. Taking communion is a good way to stand against these attacks, and proclaim Jesus as Lord to the spiritual realm.
2. Don’t Get Proud
Mission trips are so amazing, and you get to step out in so many different ways that maybe you don’t or can’t at home, but it can be easy to start thinking prideful thoughts about what you did and what others around you aren’t doing. Or where you are at in your spiritual walk compared to them, or how much time you spend with God compared to them. Hey, this can happen anytime but especially after a mission trip where you had focused time with God and ministering. Check your heart, and repent if you are finding prideful thoughts coming in, which leads me to number three.
3. Judge Not Lest You to Be Judged
Ouch, here’s another one God’s been really talking to me about in general, but it certainly applies here too. Have you ever thought in a prideful attitude, oh, I would never do that. I don’t run late like that person. I wouldn’t react like that. It’s one thing to ponder someone else’s response but once the thought turns prideful, you’ve stepped over the judgement line.
What you sow you reap. Paraphrase of Galatians 6:7
I have judged people for how their children behave, eg thought proudly that mine don’t do that, only to have them * start * acting * that * way. So when I recognise this playing out in my life, I need to:
Repent of pride
Ask God to uproot any bad roots in my life that is causing bad fruit.
(My motto in life, if there’s bad fruit, ask God to show you the bad root)
And ask Him to grow good fruit in it’s place.
If you want to hear more about judgements and how they work check out John and Paula Stanford’s teaching on bitter root judgements.
4. Don’t Fall into the Dishonour Trap
On a missions trip, you’ve just spent a lot of time with people that maybe you only saw at church once a week, and you’ve discovered they aren’t perfect. Gasp, maybe they even *swear*. Or they didn’t let you do something you thought they should. Let’s not dishonour them. Maybe you need to talk to one or two Godly, wise people about what happened and then you need to as the song says . . . let it go. Honour is not telling everyone around you what a bad job they did or that they shouldn’t be in that position or they are a false prophet. HONOUR. If you struggle with this, you need to read Honour’s Reward by John Bevere.
5. Throw Your Pearls Before Swine
I know God did so many awesome things on that trip, but not everyone’s going to understand. Sure talk to people but have wisdom of the when, the who and the how much, and don’t be discouraged when some people glaze over and walk away or change the topic. They weren’t there, and they don’t understand how much your life has changed. For the people around you, live it out, don’t tell them how to change, unless they ask. They will ask if the change in you is significant enough.
What you can do is to dig deep into God, be faithful in prayer and Bible reading. Maybe you’ve heard some new truths on that trip; check them out and study.
When I came home from Papua New Guinea it was a completely eye opening look into the prophetic, hearing from God, and spiritual realm. I started devouring books about these topics, and studying the Bible to understand what I’d seen and make sure my experiences matched God’s Word.
Would you like to encourage a teen who is going on a mission trip or has just come home from one? My book, Dad and Me in PNG, tells the story of my trip to PNG as a 14 year old, and all the cultural differences, and the huge impact the Holy Spirit had on my life. If you’re in Australia you can buy it through this blog, and if not you can buy it through Amazon.