“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19
This month, I had the opportunity to meet with the elders at Norway to discuss the value of missions, and more specifically the upcoming mission trip to Roatán, Honduras. Together, we approached frequently asked questions and common misconceptions about missions.
One of the most common questions regarding missions is “What about the people who need help in the United States? There are people in our community that are struggling, why do we need to go to a different country?” To this question, the elders said, “We can do good work for God anywhere.”
Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Christ has given us specific instructions and these instructions do not confine us to one specific location, but rather tell us to go into all nations. “All nations” includes our own, and Norway does serve the city of Huntington. However, it also includes nations like Honduras. One specific aspect that the elders have considered about overseas missions is the growth of our mission team. Leaving our comfort zones leads to reliance on God and in stepping out in faith, we are more aware of our purpose to serve others. While serving others in our own community is certainly beneficial for all, sometimes it is easy for our minds and hearts to be clouded by our comfort. Stepping out of our comfort zone aligns are hearts more with Christ and less with the world.
Finances are also a major consideration when it comes to missions. Some people may wonder, “Could this money not be better spent? Doesn’t the church have bills to pay?”
To this question, the elders were clear that the money for this trip is being raised outside of the operational budget. Each member of the mission team is responsible for raising the money to pay for his or her personal expenses, which is a personal sacrifice. However, there is no shortage of help from the people at Norway, as the congregation has pulled together to help out the mission team! The elders were adamant that you couldn’t put a price tag on the work of God and that if we trust God, He will provide for this trip.
Another question that applies more specifically to our trip is, “Why would you go on a short-term mission trip? What is the benefit of that?”
While this is a short-term mission trip, in a way, it actually is long-term. Our presence will have a lasting affect and the relationships that we build will continue even after we come back. The organization that we will be working with has a permanent presence and Richard Crespo is very active in this organization. It isn’t about how much money that we have to spend or how long we go; it is about changing the lives of the people we are serving and changing the lives of the people on our team.
The elders are very excited and look forward to the trip. They are hoping to eventually increase participation in the future and have the mission team grow and change throughout the years. Bill Wright said, “We would love to see more teenagers become more involved in missions.”
The congregation has also been supportive of the trip. According to the elders, there are no objections to the trip and there has been a desire to help out and raise funds. The congregation has been very helpful when it comes to events and all of the fundraisers have been well attended! The outpouring of interest and support from those who are not going on the trip has been a blessing.