John 17:18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.
I enjoy watching movies. I don’t often go to the theater because of my busy schedule. Long flights for mission trips allow me to catch up on the most recent releases. Movie channels on TV permit me to see the best movies repeatedly. In fact, I just watched “The Hobbit” by R.R. Tolkien for the fifth time. I loved the book series growing up and watched all of the movies many times. This instance, as I watched, I noticed a similarity between the action on-screen and many of my mission trips.
The film begins with Bilbo Baggins swept up in the excitement and chaos of his pending adventure. He vacillates between feelings of fear and giddiness. He wants to participate but thoughts of what could go wrong almost cause him to back out. Most of those who join my mission teams experience the same mixtures of feelings. The team members want to go, they feel called to go but they still struggle against their own thoughts of what might happen to them. However, God assures us in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has plans to prosper us and not harm us. Therefore, we choke back our fears and step out in faith.
Soon, the Hobbit and his troop start down the road on their journey. They prepared, planned, and tried to anticipate all types of problems. Even with all the planning, the trip veers off course and they encounter many unexpected obstacles. Delayed flights, lost luggage, illness and many other roadblocks threatened to derail some of the activities during our trips. Proverbs 16:9 explains that no matter how much we plan, God is in charge of each of our steps. We trust His purpose in each problem and continue to move forward.
Our heroes battle against all kinds of creatures in epic war scenes during the film. Flaming arrows fly and swords slash, killing anything they strike. The future looks bleak as they struggle against their enemies. A missionary battles too but it is in the spiritual realms. Ephesians 6:12 shows us our fights are not against flesh and blood beings. Instead, we struggle against the power of the dark world. The Lord does not leave us to fight alone. He is with us and Ephesians goes on to teach us to put on the full armor of God as our protection.
Finally, Bilbo heads back to his home in the Shire. Throughout his journey, he thinks about the day he will sit in his own chair again and smoke his pipe once again. He is not disappointed in the joy of these simply pleasures once more. Similarly, a mission trip soon ends and we return home. Joyous celebrations wait for us when we reunite with loved ones. Nevertheless, the journey has changed us, never to be the same. The Bible helps us to understand in 2 Corinthians 5:17, when we encounter Christ, He makes us new. He changes us forever.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”