Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19, NLT).
When someone asks why I travel on short-term mission trips, I have two answers — God and my wife. With this team paired up, how could I resist?
My wife, Barbara, first went on a mission trip to Romania in the early 1990s to work with the orphans of that country after the fall of communism. I told her when she left that I would never go on a mission trip.
Having now been on at least 90 short-term mission trips, I often laugh at my original short-sighted proclamation.
Not long after my wife went to Romania, I felt the call of God to travel to Russia. I should not have been surprised — the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 includes the phrase “make disciples” of all nations.
I’ve observed that when someone seriously begins disciplemaking, God will sooner or later expand their obedience to the nations — whether short-term, long-term, financially supporting, or Zoom discipling with believers in other countries.
In my case, I wasn’t called to a long-term mission overseas, but many short-term trips in which I trained pastors and church leaders to disciple.
Though Jesus tells us to disciple all nations, I’ve been surprised at the resistance to overseas missions by believers who claim Jesus as their Lord.
On my first mission trip, my wife and I arrived at the Stockholm airport in Sweden. It was the first point of an eventual bus trip through western Russia. We were met at the airport by another American missionary couple, and instead of enthusiastically greeting us and welcoming our help, they spent an hour explaining why we should have stayed in the U.S.A. and just sent the money to them that we spent on our trip.
Not the best way to begin my first mission trip!
Also, through the years, I’ve had well-meaning believers say something like, “Why are you going overseas? There are many unreached people in Springfield, Ohio.” I say this politely, but this comment displays a disappointing attitude and a very wrong theology.
Jesus calls, and we go! Period.
If Jesus tells Abraham to leave his homeland, Moses to take the Israelites to the Promised Land, Jesus to establish his base in Capernaum (and not His hometown), Paul to be a missionary to the Gentiles, or Pastor Grant to go to Russia – who are we to argue?!
Looking back over 30 years of short-term missions, I never would have survived as a pastor in one location for 49 years without traveling on mission trips. My short-term mission experiences gave me a refreshing and depth of experience that enabled a long-term ministry in one location.
I’ve just returned from the Philippines. Many of you were praying for my wife and me as we traveled. Thank you! We had safe travel, good health, and powerful ministry.
Barbara and I have been working in the Philippines for over 20 years. On this trip, we first trained pastors and church leaders about discipleship in General Santos City (southern Philippines).
Then we went on a retreat with a team of Filipinos who lead the DA2LJ ministry (Discipling Another To Love Jesus). This ministry uses my book First Steps Conversations to train churches throughout the Philippines in disciplemaking.
You can get updates on the Filipino DA2LJ team by following their Facebook page — Discipling Another To Love Jesus International.
We had a great time. Click on this link to see a video overview of our retreat . . .
Thank you for praying and for your financial support — and let’s all have a renewed commitment to obey our Lord Jesus when He said, “All the world!”