Short-term missions isn’t one-size-fits-all. Every trip is different. Every person is different. But when I traveled to Greece this past summer, I learned three important lessons that likely apply to anyone considering being a short-term missionary.
It will be harder than you expect.
Yes, there will be the planes delayed, luggage lost and miscommunication, but these won’t make or break your trip.
When I was called to step out of my comfort zone and go on this trip in the first place, I reached points where I doubted this was what I was supposed to be doing, and in those moments I could only trust the Lord to lead me.
When I started working with TEAM missionaries in Greece doing Bible distribution, I was meeting new people, learning new systems and adjusting to a new environment all at the same time. I was so far out of my comfort zone that I had nowhere to go but to the Lord. I quickly learned the importance of relying on Him for everything.
It was harder than I expected because I was emptied of myself — but I was filled with the Lord, which leads to my second point…
It will be easier than you expect.
On the other hand, everything I feared as I boarded the plane — culture shock, homesickness, fear of the unknown — was nowhere to be found when I arrived. I loved Greek culture and adjusted quickly. Surprisingly, I never experienced homesickness, and the things I didn’t know to expect turned out to be the greatest blessings of all!
I made close friends, experienced a new culture and grew in my relationship with the Lord. Every day, I was more excited to be there than the day before. So despite the challenges I faced, my short-term mission trip was easier than I expected because I let go of my preconceived ideas and let the Lord guide my trip in ways far greater than I ever could.
That doesn’t mean you won’t experience culture shock or homesickness, but if or when you do, be encouraged that the Lord will use these challenges as an opportunity for growth.
You are capable of more than you think.
Lastly, I can say that the Lord will use you in ways you don’t think you are capable of. I had no idea what I would be doing when I started working alongside TEAM and Hellenic Ministries in Greece.
As an introvert who shies away from phone calls and conversations with strangers, my work interacting with people all day was a challenge. But by the Lord working in and through me, I found myself not only capable, but actually enjoying a ministry I never thought I would.
I met so many incredible people during my trip, and I would have missed out if it weren’t for the Lord orchestrating a plan that was better than my own. I’m reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV): “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Every day, I encountered new challenges that would have caused great fear and anxiety in me back home, but every day, it got easier. I found myself waking up each morning asking the Lord, “What do you have for me today?” Because I knew that whatever it was, I could rely on Him to help me accomplish it.
I became acutely aware of my own inability, but I found something much greater: the strength that only comes through Him. So don’t fear the unknown or the unexpected — embrace it.
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