Missions: Go or Give?

Mission trip to Ghana

While blogging is new for me, writing is not. In 2011, I took my first mission trip.  I traveled with a group to Aflao, Ghana to teach pastors’ wives at a conference and do some medical missions. I have thoughts from that summer that I carry with me still. I wrote the following right before our church began a missions initiative. It tackles the question, “do I go or give?”

August 29, 2011

Members of my church will receive a challenge this week to participate in short term missions in the coming year. Having just completed a 10 day trip to Ghana, West Africa, I think this is an exciting time in the life of our church. I believe there is no better way to get a glimpse of God’s bigness than to step onto the soil of an unfamiliar land. 

Why I decided to go on a mission trip.

I decided to GO after reading Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream by David Platt last summer. He challenges readers to spend 2% of their year (roughly 1 week) in another context. I paused before I read this section because I knew that, once I heard the call, I would obey. As soon as I closed the book, I knew Ghana was the place God had called me to go. The wheels started moving and, before I knew it, I had a passport around my neck and a plane ticket in hand.

traveling home

The process of getting to the “yes, I’ll GO!” phase was much more complicated than that. I have 2 small children. I have a comfortable home. I have a tight budget with all income going somewhere. I do not posses marketable missionary skills. I had a lot of reasons to stay home. However, even before I got to page 200 of Radical, God walked me through the process of letting go of all of that.

In March, he broke me of my control over my children. He reminded me that they are not mine and to hold them so tight demonstrated a lack of faith. About that same time, our Life Group read through Crazy Love (Francis Chan) together and my hold on possessions loosened. I was ready to put a “for sale” sign in the yard and follow Luke 18:22 to the letter. Not long after that, I was asked to lead a study on spiritual gifts where I discovered that God calls us to love others, no matter our giftedness. While my gift of administration (a.k.a being bossy) might not be useful for short term missions, I can hold a hand, say a prayer, offer a cup of cold water. Soon, my reasons to STAY dissolved in the Living Water of God’s word.

And then the question, “will I obey?”

[Jesus] is something–someone–worth losing everything for. And if we walk away from the Jesus of the gospel, we walk away from eternal riches. The cost of non-discipleship is profoundly greater for us than the cost of discipleship. For when we abandon the trinkets of this world and respond to the radical invitation of Jesus, we discover the infinite treasure of knowing and experiencing him. David Platt, Radical; emphasis added

I found this to be exponentially true. I experienced God in such a rich and surprising way.

My church family will face the same question in the coming weeks. All Believers face that same question. Will you obey? There is no doubt that it is God’s will that we GO. He states in clearly in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). Is it God’s will that you GO? Yes.

Then there is the issue of giving.

It takes resources to make missions happen. There is no doubt that there is significant value in sending missionaries (Romans 10:13-15). But, it is not enough to hide behind the role of Sender when the call to GO is so clear. Jesus did not declare from the clouds, “send, ye therefore, into all the world, people who are more capable (or willing) than you.”

A year before my trip, we helped send a young lady from our church to Ghana. (Honestly, that was the first time I had ever heard of Ghana.) Her pictures and stories were great. Cute faces, sad stories. That experience of supporting her does not hold a candle to what I experienced when I looked into the eyes of the orphan, shook the hand of the pastors, or prayed with a sister in need. The sending was a precursor to the going.

It was in the going that God really changed me and revealed more of himself to me.

If we are going to accomplish the global purpose of God, it will not be primarily through giving our money, as important as that is. It will happen primarily through giving ourselves. This is what the gospel represents, and it’s what the gospel requires. David Platt, Radical

The question before us:  Go or Give?  Yes.  Yes to both.  GO where God calls you.  Your call may be an inner-city ministry, the children in your neighborhood, or across state lines. Your call may be Ghana, South America, Russia. Wherever He calls you, GO.

And GIVE. Give to support those who are answering the call to go. Give to missions so that the Good News can reach the unreached. Give to your local church. Give to the individuals who have said “yes” to short term missions. You can be an agent of God’s faithfulness in their lives.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Romans 10:14-15

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