It doesn’t take long for a conversation with me to eventually steer towards running. The passion (or slight obsession) that has enveloped my life is riddled with metaphors for life.
When preparing for a race, the bulk of training falls squarely on your own shoulders. You have to make the time to run, preparing your body with stretching and weightlifting or cross-training, and ensure that you are properly fueling your body to adequately perform in the way that you desire.
While preparing for this, I have found that a running community is very important. My community is constantly there, giving me encouragement and advice as I prepare for the race at hand.
I think the same idea can be applied to missions. The bulk of the preparation falls on you — the person that is going — but there is also a huge need for support and encouragement to enable you as you go.
But what about if you cannot go?
As I approach the start of a professional career, my window of being able to go on mission trips is beginning to close. Such is often the case for those who are concluding their academic careers (and it also a major reason to taking trips as God calls you to and while you can).
So what do we, those who cannot go any longer, do?
We must be the support group for those who can.
But how do we do this?
By either financially supporting a trip or prayerfully supporting those who are going.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” -2 Corinthians 9:7
I know not many of us are multimillionaires who can write a check that will cover the entire cost for another person’s trip, but any little amount goes a long way for someone heading to the mission field. This may involve sacrificing a few nights out or a few drinks at your local coffee shop, but it will always make a difference in bringing the Gospel to the others. In this pursuit, we need to give as much as we can, as often as we can.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
People may not admit it at times, but they are nervous about their trips. Their minds are a minefield of questions.
Will I be effective in my work?
Should I even be going?
Will I be able to raise the money required to go?
This is where encouragement comes in. We need to be active pursuers in our support, not passive bystanders. What I mean by this is we need to be seeking out those who are going to ensure they know we are behind them.
So often we wait until our friends come to us with their concerns or problems, which can be perceived as indifference in our relationships with our friends. We also must consistently be in prayer for those that are going. But we should not simply keep these prayers to ourselves. Let people know you are praying for them, not out of selfish desires but as a way to uplift others in their pursuit of God. Nothing has comforted my anxious thoughts over a trip more than knowing I had several people praying for me.
If you can, I encourage you to find money to give, but above all else, be consistently praying for and encouraging your friends who are heading to the mission field this summer in the hopes that God’s name will be shared around the world.