For so many of us today, the culture of consumerism and the senseless accumulation of material goods are no longer satisfying. Instead of turning to God, the Creator of all things, we have found another alternative that promises to fill the void in our hearts: experience.
A quick review of the most liked posts on Facebook and Instagram show just how important experience has become for people today. The posts and images encourage people to not buy, to not accumulate things but to travel. In many ways, they are right! Experience is much more fulfilling than the accumulation of things.
But we must ask ourselves: what kind of experience can truly lead us to fulfillment?
There can be not fulfillment without full participation in the life, ministry and body of Christ. If this participation is not practiced on a regular basis where we live, it is likely that we will not enjoy a Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, transformative experience in another country.
Many people return from a mission trip with a desire to travel, to learn a new language and possibly a new Facebook profile picture. It is my desire that people would return from the Latin American Missions Studies Program with a bigger view of the world, a greater compassion for the marginalized and the oppressed and a greater commitment to life in Christ and His body.
If our cross-cultural experiences do not take us deeper into the heart of Jesus and face to face with those He died to save, let’s call it vacation not mission work.
Cross-cultural mission work can be a mountain top experience for Christians. Nevertheless, if we are not in constant communion with God and active in service in our local churches where we live most of the year, we will mostly likely be longing for an ideal experience instead of the kind of humble service to which we are called in Christ.