I miss Peru. You see we have just sent a mission team to Peru, and when they arrived and posted pictures and shared stories from Lima, my heart has been gripped with a longing to be with them.

One year ago, my family and I helped lead a mission trip in Lima, Peru. Over the next five weeks we would experience God in incredible ways. We developed life-long relationships with people who have been captured by God’s mission to bring good news to all people. Daily we were in a community that prayed together, studied the Bible together and sought to takes steps of faith together. And we had a lot of fun.

I have often been asked whether or not short-term mission trips do any lasting good? I can answer that question wholeheartedly…YES! Especially if they are linked to a local work. If you want to see the long-term impact of short-term missions here are a few examples:

  • I would encourage you to watch this short documentary on our partnership with Panama.
  • This is a note I received from one of the participants of this year’s Peru mission trip.

Hey Sean and Jonny,
Today we met a student on campus who told us he met with two Canadians last year. He remembered both of you by name and the conversations you shared. Santos has continued to think about the challenges you gave him last year, and we will meet up with him next week to continue the conversation. Obviously you both left a mark on his life.

  • Or check out this short video about lives being changed from Tiffany, a student currently in Peru.

Certainly short-term mission trips have an impact.

But short term mission trips not only have an impact on those being touched by the message of Jesus, they also have a lasting impact on the participants. The missionaries are forever changed because of their experience.

The following are just 3 of the ways my life has changed since being in Peru.

1. Building relationships that matter.

University students sitting in a circle on the grass.

While on short term mission trips I developed relationships with people that seem to be the kind of relationships we are meant to be in. The experience of daily gathering together to pray, study God’s Word, and take intentional steps to share the gospel, bonds you with other people in a way that is remarkably holy and rich. But being part of a community on mission seems difficult to prioritize once back at home. I realize that my missing Peru, points to a deeper longing in my soul to be in this kind of community regularly.

Since coming back from Peru, I am trying to be more intentional in this area.  One of the best ways of building relationships that matter has been to wake up early, before my kids, and to pray with a few inspiring friends. Either in a coffee shop or sometimes over Skype. The days I do this seem richer throughout. Relationships matter. People living on mission for Jesus inspire me. I need to be around those people regularly.

What about you?
What intentional habits have you built into your life to build relationships that matter? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this.

2. Giving each day to Jesus.

Young woman studying her bible.

On a mission trip, you calibrate your day around your relationship with God. Two realities occur on a mission trip that re-focus your day:

a. You leave the distractions and pursuits of your regular life behind.
b. You intentionally spend time in the Word, in prayer and in the sharing of the gospel.

The lesson here of course is that spiritual growth takes intentionality. One of my favourite Psalms is the first one:

How blessed is the man…
[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NASB)

Did you read it? It is so true.

Bible sitting beside a laptop and a blackberry.

Daily meditating on God’s Word gives me what I need to thrive each day. Jesus is the Bread of Life, and waking up in the morning and giving my day to Him cannot be reserved for mission trips. Spending time in His Word has meant I need to lay something else aside. Something I have started doing since arriving home from Peru, is not touching my cell phone until I have spent some time in the Bible. Might be tricky for those of you who primarily read Scripture on your phone, but might be worth a try.

What about you?

If you were to live each day as if you were on a mission trip, what pursuits would you lay aside? How can you build a habit of spending time in the Word, in prayer and sharing the gospel?

3. Heightened expectation.

On a mission trip, you are usually out of your comfort zone. You are uprooted from your natural habitat and forced to rely on God for strength and courage to do things you might not normally do. Faith is exercised daily, and like a muscle it grows. You begin to see that God is faithful to give strength in times of weakness. He gives boldness in times of fear. He gives wisdom when facing the unknown, and He gives life to those who seek Him. When you see God show up daily, the miraculous becomes expected.

Last week I was helping my neighbour unload his trailer. I asked him if I could share with him about my job. He said sure. I was able to share how Jesus has changed my life and how I love to share with others His message of hope. My neighbour wants to know more and we will continue the conversation. Yesterday he cut my grass for me. When I stepped out the door to a freshly cut lawn I didn’t mow, it felt like a miracle. But why does it still surprise me that people want to know more about Jesus? Our God is awesome and He is at work in the hearts of those around you.

What about you?
Are you exercising your faith-muscle daily? Do live with a sense of expectancy that God will show up in your life today as you depend on him?

Living like this takes intentionality

I miss Peru, but in some ways I think what I miss more is the daily rhythm created during a short-term mission trip: the expectation that God will show up, the intentional focus on spiritual growth, and the deep Jesus-focused relationships. I want to live out my faith daily in community, expecting God to do the miraculous through and in me.  If you do too, realize it will take intentionality.

  • Who inspires you to be more like Jesus? Ask them to meet with you and pray with you regularly.  
  • What would you need to lay aside to spend each day focused on Jesus and meditating on His word?
  • What step of faith could you take this week that would remind you that Jesus loves to meet you in moments of weakness?

Of course none of these steps can be taken on our own.  Each step we take to live a life on mission must be done in active surrender to the Holy Spirit.

Have you made the wonderful discovery of the Spirit-filled life?

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About the Author

Sean Cullen

Sean was our previous National Director of Power to Change – Students. He lives in Edmonton with his wife Nancy, and five children.

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