Why do we do missions? My short answer: because all believers are called to share the gospel. Of course, there are all kinds of ways to respond to this general call. But I have found that when we get away to an unfamiliar environment, where we are out of our leagues and dependent on God alone, we are more vulnerable to God and can hear him in ways that we can’t in our usual lives. And the good news is that he will equip us to do anything he calls us to do.
I’ll never forget seeing Jim Spoontz stand up in the front of our church in Wichita Falls, wearing an ushanka (a Russian fur hat), and inviting us to go with him on an evangelistic/church planting mission trip to Russia. I had never even thought of going on a trip like this, but the Spirit made it very clear to me: I had to go!
So, in October, 1996, I flew to Moscow, then rode a train for over 10 hours to Tolyatti, Russia, where we went door to door, witnessing with a Russian Christian interpreter (mine was my new brother in Christ, Boris), and inviting people to come to a church service later that day. I believe the trip was very successful from the standpoint of people coming to Christ and a new church being planted. I know it was successful from the standpoint of God equipping me and being able to get to me.
While we were on the train, a co-laborer innocently asked me, “What is your testimony?”
“Oh my gosh!” I thought. “What is my testimony?”
I was about to go door to door sharing the story of how God changed my life, and didn’t even know how to articulate it! I’m living proof that you don’t have to know how to do a single thing, including how to talk about your faith, to go on a mission trip. I saw that God truly provides. He helped me learn how to share my faith, and he used me despite my limitations.
Most importantly, however, during that trip, God completely changed the direction of my life. It is a very long story, but suffice it to say that another innocent question asked by another co-laborer resulted in my leaving a very promising Air Force career, which I loved, so I could work part-time and raise my family. Before that trip, I was not even considering forfeiting my career, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I’ll always be so grateful for that trip, and all that God did in (and through) me. If you don’t want to be changed by God, here’s my advice: don’t go on a mission trip! But, if the Spirit is nudging you, even (especially) if you feel scared and inept, join Isaiah in saying, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:5-8). I assure you God will take care of the rest.