Tag Archives: mission trip

Giving Perspective

Yesterday I preached on “What Happens When You Give.” I listed five things that happen when you give money to your congregation. Personally my favorite reason was #4, “When You Give You Gain Perspective.”

Mission JamaicaHave you ever met someone who went on a foreign mission trip? Those can be expensive.   Between food, airfare and supplies, someone could easily spend thousands of dollars traveling to another country to work with children or work on a house. I have traveled to Jamaica to help build homes for needy families and I know how expensive a trip can be.

But when these short-term missionaries return and talk, they use words like “incredible” and “life changing.” They talk about the experience like it was one of the most important things they’ve ever done, no matter what the cost may have been.

I’ve never met anyone that said, “Man, I wish I hadn’t raised all that money to go to Jamaica and help people…I would have rather used that money to buy an Iphone or laptop.”

You never hear that story because spending money on others in need feels right.  It gives us a new perspective on the values of life.

People often regret something they buy, but they rarely regret something they give to others.

Financial giving to your congregation gives you a new perspective on what it means to have and how rich you already are. You see your church not as a market that dispense religious goods for your benefit, but rather as a community where you are invested and connected. It is not about getting more stuff, but touching more lives for Jesus sake.

Money HeartJesus taught, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21.

I want my heart to line up with Jesus’ treasure. Giving to Jesus’ mission helps make that alignment real.

Thank you, Jesus, for investing in me. Help me to gain your perspective.

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Mission Trip Report

Today  I have a guest blogger, Brian Wright, who give us a report on our recent youth mission trip. Thank, Brian!

Brian Wright between Tonya and Terri

Twelve amazing and energetic youth of Resurrection put their busy summers on pause for the week of July 10 and entered into an unfamiliar territory to serve members of the town of Sisseton South Dakota. This small rural town was considerably different from their home towns, pushing the leaders as well as youth to journey outside of their comfort zones and to confront a number of fears to show their love for God and people.

To fit with the missions theme: ‘Be Different’, the youth of Resurrection began spreading their joy of the Lord with the four other churches immediately upon their arrival. During our first worship service and throughout the week, the other churches as well as Youth Works staff were in awe of the love and the energy that each and every one of the twelve youth displayed in their love of God and for others. This energy and love proved to be contagious, by the end of the week the Youth Works staff and other churches stared to feed off of this enthusiasm.

Each day of our adventure began between 6:45 and 7am (depending on their assigned breakfast preparation responsibilities) and the days were filled with service and devotion, seeking to discover how God was at work in each of our lives. The days’ events did not end until 11pm in the evening. Despite running on little sleep and sleeping on the floor or air mattresses in sleeping bags, the youth refused to display fatigue and maintained their joyful and energetic attitudes (the leaders did the same with the help of some coffee).

During the trip, we were divided into three different groups and took part in various service projects throughout the community by painting houses, leading youngster of the community in worship, and spending time with the elderly in nursing homes.

On the last night of the trip, the leaders and youth took part in a foot washing ceremony to commemorate their last night in Sisseton. The ceremony proved to be a moving and emotional experience that allowed each member of the trip to connect with one another on a stronger and more spiritual manner and to reflect on the growth and love that was spread throughout the week.

From this trip, new friendships were formed and old ones became even stronger: both with members within our church and with members within the Sisseton community. The youth of Resurrection returned home safely reflecting on how they could continue living in a manner that is different from the society just as Jesus did during his time on earth.

 

The Gift of Mentoring

Tonya, Brian and Terri

One aspect of our youth mission trip that makes me proud as a pastor is the joyful enthusiasm our adult mentors bring to the trip.  Tonya Bushard, Brian Wright, and Terri Nelson agreed early on to accompany the youth as “chaperones,” but they are so much more.  They are fully engaged in the mission, participating in all the activities and encouraging the youth to be open to God’s Spirit.   They are mentors, demonstrating how to trust, live and serve as a follower of Jesus Christ.

When I was in high school, my youth group advisors were Jerry and Nada Torgerson.  They opened their hearts and their home to the dozen or more high school youth who participated in our congregation.  They took us to special youth rallies at Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle, packing more than the legal limit into their station wagon.  They organized backpacking trips into the Olympic Mountains.  They shared scripture and prayer and modeled the Christian life.  They were a big influence in my call to pastoral ministry.

Mentoring youth needs to be a high priority in congregation like Resurrection.  As a congregation we pledge at every baptism to guide and assist our children and  youth as they grow into adult followers of Jesus Christ.   Many have embraced this pledge by being Sunday school teachers, confirmation guides and Vacation Bible Adventure mentors. Others participate in more informal ways, praying for and encouraging our youth.  Mentoring youth is a congregational ministry that cannot be left solely to a professional youth director or pastor.  All of us need to use our unique gifts and strengths to raise up children of God. 

How are you participating in the ministry to children and youth?

Lord Jesus, show me ways to encourage and support children and youth as they grow in you.  

Go in Peace, Serve the Lord

Yesterday morning our youth mission team left for a mission trip to Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota.   They will be serving among the people of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux tribe in both children’s programs and work projects.  I ask for your prayers as they live out our congregation’s mission statement: trust, live and serve.   They bear witness to the vibrant life of faith in Christ by their trusting in Jesus, their living in daily community with the Word of God and prayer, and by serving others. 

Launching our Mission Team for Service

We had a prayer of blessing as they prepared to leave.   As I reflect on their departure, I realize that this is a graphic illustration of what a congregation should be every week: a launching pad for ministry in the world.  This week our youth team is doing that in a very intentional way. 

I believe mission trips are vital to a congregation’s vitality.  Such trips provide opportunity for intentional reflection upon our place in God’s kingdom.  Participants  interact with people of different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.  They discover how their unique gifts and dependable strengths can be used to help others.  And each day the team has devotions and conversation so that they can integrate their often physical experiences into their spiritual, emotional and mental lives.  Such trips can truly be life-changing.

Yet Christian service is not restricted to mission tripsWe can serve God by loving our neighbor wherever we are: in our homes, workplaces or community.  As we love our children or spouse, as we work with our staff and customers, as we visit with our neighbors, we can be God’s hands, feet, voice and heart in the world. We all can be servants of God in our daily lives.  A mission trip trains the heart and mind for such daily service.

At the end of worship each Sunday I announce. “Go in peace. Serve the Lord.”   The congregation responds, “Thanks be to God.”  I love this sending.  I just wish that some Sunday we would take time to report on how we serve the Lord this past week.  I am confident that our youth team will have some stories to share.

What helps you  to serve?

Lord Jesus, we ask you to bless and encourage the youth of Resurrection as they serve in your kingdom.

Walking with Jesus in Jamaica

Someone once asked me , “Do you enjoy running every time you go?”   I had to stop and reflect for a moment.  My answer was, “No, not every time.  In fact there are many runs that I don’t enjoy at all.  But there are enough moments of joy and peace that I continue to lace up my running shoes and head out.”  And now, as I struggle to complete my physical therapy and watch the snow melt, I especially miss the joy of heavy breathing and quickly moving feet.

I believe the same is true for our walk with Jesus Christ.  Not every moment is filled with love, joy and peace.  In fact our connection to Jesus will also connect us to the suffering and pain in the world.  I don’t think God calls us out of the world, but to deeper life in the world, the world he created and redeemed.

Learning to be patient with my Jamaican friends

For the past ten springs I led a mission trip to Jamaica.  Yes, I would spend some time on the beach soaking up the sun and enjoying the surf.  But Jamaica is a very poor country and I invested more time in parts of Jamaica that the tourist rarely see, helping to build  Habitat for Humanity homes.  The work certainly had moments of frustration and discouragement.  “What is one house among so many needy people?”  Still I knew from years of experience that one house, one life, one testimony can bear witness to the transforming love and power of Jesus.  As I listened to Jamaicans, I discovered their patient faith and joy. And those moments of joy keep me going through the tougher times.

Even as I struggle in the present with my lack of running, I am hopeful for the future.  I am confident that I will run again with Jesus.  I am confident that new international mission trips lie ahead for Resurrection Lutheran Church.  Patient trust in God’s mercy will provide the way. “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 

 What has struggle taught you in your relationship with Jesus?