Friday, March 08, 2013

Being Spiritually Prepared

This can be a difficult topic to address because so many people in various degrees of spiritual maturity go on these trips.  There are however, some basic principles that we all can strive toward as we begin to prepare to go on a mission trip.  All of us are always striving in all of these areas but because of what we are facing, it is important to make sure we are doing all we can on our part. 

What are we facing?

Well, from the moment you signed up for the trip, you became a target.  Rest assured, the enemy of your soul does not want you to go on the trip and share the love of Jesus.   Yes, its true that bad things happen to people all the time anyway, and yes, the Bible says it "rains on the just and the unjust alike", but it is also true that those who are taking a more active role in sharing Jesus will be under attack.  You, as a team member, need to be prepared for that.  Both as we prepare to go and once we are there, you may come under spiritual attack.  How will you handle that?  Are you ready? 

We are also facing huge challenges.  There is the challenge of traveling to an unfamiliar culture and trying to be a representative of Jesus.  To this end, it is even perhaps a greater challenge with Native Americans because of the atrocities that have been carried out against them by those claiming to be doing God's work in the past.  Its a sad fact that many of the abuses against the Lakota were done by white Christian missionaries.  So, we have a tough job - showing them a more accurate picture of what Jesus is about.

We also have the challenge of dealing with the annoying habits of those on our own team.  After being in close quarters with people who have all different personalities for an extended period of time ... well .... patience can wear thin quickly sometimes.  And yet, we still need to respond in love to our teammates not only because its the right thing to do, but also because the people we are trying to reach out to are watching. 

We also need to be prepared to deal with whatever situation may come up while out there.  I tell the crew every year that ANYTHING can happen at ANY TIME.  You may be thinking that if something arises that you don't feel confident in dealing with that you'll go find someone who is, but that is not always an option.  You may find yourself in situation where the only option is for YOU to deal with it. 

And so ... you should be prepared. 

What can you do to prepare?

  1. Pray.  Pray for yourself, those on your team, for the missionaries out there, and for the Lakota people.  Pray for your family too - they will either be your biggest supporter or your toughest obstacle.  You were given a prayer partner that you can email, text, call, or meet with once a week to support each other in prayer.  Ask them how you can pray for them and let them know how they can pray for you. 
  2. Have a "working knowledge" of Scripture.  If memorization works for you, great, but I'm far more concerned with having Scripture become such a part of who you are that you live it out - not just memorize it.  Anyone can memorize scripture.  Living it out is much tougher.  That's what I call a "working knowledge" - so that when you encounter situations you have the working knowledge of God's word so ingrained in you that you will handle it in a God-pleasing way.  It may still scare you to death, but you'll do the right thing.
  3. Fast.  Find a way to fast that will work for you - if you are diabetic or have other health issues, don't do something to put your health at risk, but there are many ways you can fast.  Find a way to do it.  I may be different but I do not believe fasting changes God or changes God's mind about anything.  I don't believe God is the one who needs changing.  Rather, fasting changes US.  It helps us be more attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Fasting was often used by those seeking God's direction in the Bible.  Fasting also helps us develop discipline.  And lastly, we have been asked by one of the Lakota people to "fast and pray" for his people. 

You were also given a Bible Study to use as you prepare to go on the trip.  The topics covered will help you prepare your heart and mind for the challenge ahead.  You may do that on your own, or with a partner or in small groups. 

And the result?

You will experience an adventure in faith that will leave you amazed!  Completely amazed!