This Friday, I leave for Mozambique, part of an 11-member mission team that will spend two weeks in Africa. You can find out more about our trip by visiting our team’s website. We’ll be blogging daily, so I hope you will follow us.
So why, you might ask, would someone want to travel half way around the world to do volunteer work at a rural mission station in Cambine? After all, it’s an 18-hour plane ride just to get to Johannesburg. And that’s only the beginning of our journey.
My passion for mission work began four years ago when I went on my first mission trip to Girdwood, Alaska. That got me hooked. It renewed my faith in God and put me on a path to learn first-hand what I consider to be the great lessons of Christian mission. I’m not sure you will find these lessons on the Harvard Business Review blog, but nonetheless they are the “secret ingredients” of a life that is full and complete.
- Living and working in fellowship is the key to a meaningful life. In Girdwood, I discovered the power and joy of living in Christian community. Each day, I was reminded that there is nothing of substance we can accomplish on our own. Working with a group of people committed to serving as disciples of Christ opened my eyes and changed my life. Regardless of your beliefs, the takeaway is the same: You cannot do it by yourself. A mission trip demonstrates that in many marvelous and touching ways.
- We all have different skills and talents, and that’s okay. Paul writes that the church is like a body. There are individual parts, a hand or foot, but none is more important than the other, and each is necessary to the functioning of the body. And so it is on every mission trip. Each member of the team brings unique skills and is essential to its success. Imagine working for an organization where every member is honored and cherished, each is allowed to contribute to the best of his ability. Incredible, you say? Go on a mission trip.
- Love, love, love. I’ve never been a touchy-feely kind of guy, but then I went on two mission trips to Brazil. I couldn’t help but feel an instant connection with the people. To love others unconditionally and with all of your heart, that is the greatest and hardest commandment. The kids we worked with in Brazil taught us how to do it in five seconds. What a blessing it is to realize that each day is a gift, custom-made for us to enjoy if we just open our hearts and love.
- Letting go allows you to realize your greatest potential. A mission trip teaches you that most of the things you thought were important really aren’t. Away from your daily routine, reduced to the bare necessities and ministering to people who have very little by U.S. standards, you are able to see more clearly than ever before. Talk about passion. Talk about living with purpose. People you meet on mission trips have it in spades, and they got it by learning what really counts in life.
- Mountain-top experiences need to be cultivated year-round. Mission trips end, people go back to work. You cannot stay on top of the mountain forever. True, but there is this thing called church. You go to church and get involved in its activities to feed and sustain what you experienced on the mountain. And that gradually changes your life, gives it new meaning and a purpose. I never much liked church before I got involved in mission work. That’s because I never understood that it was a corporate experience, designed to teach, foster and support a transformation that you can’t do by yourself. Now I actually like going to church. Amazing.
Letting go, loving and losing myself in a higher power to accomplish things that I know I couldn’t possibly do on my own. Those are some of the lessons I take to Mozambique.