FENTON, MI – The Arkansas mission team was ready to return south a little earlier than planned during July because local construction permits had not been issued allowing the demolition & remodeling of the building. Pastor Garth, of the Gathering Church Windsor, told me, “The motor of the bus could be heard idling in the church’s parking lot as Arkansas volunteers prepared to leave, loading luggage, and saying their goodbyes.”
In the midst of the farewells, a telephone rang, and Cindy Gietz, the Gathering’s administrative assistant, put the phone to her ear. After Cindy ended the call she reported to the crowd, “The construction permits have been issued, we need to pick them up.”
With cries of celebration the Arkansas volunteers exited the bus, changed into construction clothes, and picked up tools. Sledge hammers and crowbars moved through the air. The snap of boards and drywall popping was everywhere. Pastor Garth said, “The volunteers did more to help us in hours than we could have done in weeks.”
Twenty-two members of Union Valley Baptist Church (UVBC) from Beebe, Arkansas came through Michigan on their way to the Gathering Church in Windsor, Canada. Pastor Tommy Miller, of UVBC Arkansas, and Pastor Garth Leno, of The Gathering Windsor, having arranged the July 2018 mission trip, were glad to see their months of planning turn into reality.
UVBC Arkansas volunteers made the 13-hour, one-way road-trip because they have a heart for missions that is larger than their own church and their own local community. The UVBC church brochure declares their mission is, “to build strong Christian families through our love of the Lord Jesus Christ.” That mission was evident by their intergenerational mission team. Volunteers worked equally hard whether they were senior citizens or teenagers.
The days of partnership between the Gathering and Union Valley were filled with prayer, outreach, remodeling, and demolition. When mission trips do not go as planned fresh prayers provide divine direction. When mission teams and local church members invade the local community with love in interesting ways, new relationships are started where the Gospel can be expressed. The blisters and Band-Aids from hours of construction and demolition are like merit badges from the mission trip. Later conversations, after mission teams return home, increase interest in serving the Lord in others who missed the recent trip.
Well-coordinated mission trips are intense lessons in becoming devoted disciples of Christ. Pastors and church leaders are missing great opportunities of learning, if they are not taking their members on mission trips outside of their local communities. Serving God in routine ways can give a person a sense of complacency. Serving God on a mission trip is more like riding a new roller coaster where every turn and drop makes a person scream. Having led many volunteers while I was an international missionary overseas, and now observing effective mission teams serving in Michigan and Canada I can list some great benefits to mission trips.
Five Benefits from Going on Mission Trips
Volunteers . . .
Witness God’s actions in other places and in the lives of other people
Gain a God-sized Kingdom vision rather than a mere local church concern
Return home with a desire to do bolder things for the Lord
Learn to abandon daily routines allowing God to do the unexpected
Infect other people with a stronger passion for mission trips
More Opportunities for Mission Trips?
You might be asking, “Will there be more opportunities for mission trips?” The answer is a clear and loud, “YES!” All of the church plants in Michigan and in nearby Canada are at different stages of growth. Different phases mean that mission teams can partner with church plants in different ways. If you desire more information about the possibility of taking your church on a mission trip, contact one of the following two people concerning the following two areas:
Pastor Wayne Parker, Send City Missionary of Detroit at firstname.lastname@example.org
After an initial conversation, we can put you in contact with the pastor of a recent church plant. We look forward to hearing from you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.