I have just returned from a mission trip. Although I’m following the after-trip protocol of doing the laundry, restocking groceries, and returning emails, I am not fully engaged here. My mind’s eye envisions little brown faces with big black eyes. Houses constructed from tin scraps and castoff lumber. Mangey dogs rummaging through mountains of alleyway trash.
I have left my heart behind again, this time in Costa Rica. Last time in Brazil. Before then, in Bulgaria. Before those, the Bahamas and France. My heart is wandering through distant slums and ghettos; it is attending school with uniformed children and swinging from iron monkey bars on a rusty playground; it’s singing in a crowded church midst the noisy mix of young and old.
I have mission trip blues. Here’s how that happens. Returning from a mission trip is not like getting back from a week at the beach. My normal life is waiting, yet my heart is strangely resistant to re-engagement. My spirit is wounded, even disgusted and angry.
It reels from the realities of other people’s lives. While my children attend college, find jobs, and enjoy security, other children in the world suffer. They receive little to no schooling. They face imminent threats of enslavement, molestation, and starvation. They know firsthand the struggle just to live. My only struggle is how to live extravagantly.
So now what?
How do I keep mission in my spirit once my body leaves it behind? How can I protect and rescue others in the safety of my own community?
Christine Caine says to “do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” She’s right. I am responsible to give, to love, to make a difference. The pain in my chest is me feeling a tiny bit of God’s heart. The anger is the Holy Spirit prompting me to act. The cure for mission trip blues is to be missional! To meet the needs of the oppressed. To bind up their wounds.
Jesus Christ lived his short life healing the sick, comforting the grieving, protecting the abused, and feeding the poor. His organized rescue efforts were aimed at the soul, as well as the body. He expended his life for others to the point of sacrifice. He went hungry, sleepless, and friendless on a regular basis. He gave until it hurt, and then he gave some more. I could do those things, if I wanted to. The things that chase away the blues.
Here are some ideas to help you “do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” Please add yours below:
- sponsor a child
- adopt an orphan
- feed the homeless
- support legislation to rescue the oppressed and enslaved
- boycott commercialism and materialism
- foster a child
- be a guardian, a mentor, or a coach
- give things away, even the things you’d like to keep, and don’t replace them with something new
- befriend the unlovely
- share your expertise for free to those who can’t afford it
- reduce your cost of living and help others
- go on a mission trip
- support reputable charities that fight hunger and abuse
- give to your church’s mission budget
Matthew 25:37-40 (NLT)
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’
Sources: @christinecaine, www.christinecaine.com