Now that the sun has set on our mission trip experience in New Orleans, I personally have mixed emotions. I am sad to leave new friendships, sad to have to stop loving on the people of New Orleans and sad that our time together as a team is essentially over. I am glad to sleep in my own bed. I am also excited to reconnect with my amazing bride and see my precious children again (though they are in Chicago and I won’t see them till Thursday).
As with any intense ministry experience, there is a certain let down as you leave the mountain top and travel into the valley. In many ways, that is probably what our team members are presently experiencing. This is expected and normal. Please pray for our team as we make the transition back to life in Barron County.
The important question is “How are we going to live differently now that we are back home?” This is a question we discussed while we were in New Orleans and over the next few days I want to offer seven suggestions on how we can make sure that the experience and lessons we learned in New Orleans are not left in New Orleans, but actually make a difference in how we think, how we treat others, how we pray, and how we live. Here are suggestions 1 and 2:
1. New Way of Looking at People in Barron County
For some reason, I have often found it easier while on a mission trip to have compassion on people who are different than me. I think it was fairly easy for most of our team to view those we ministered to in New Orleans as people created in God’s image who are in need of God’s gift of grace through Jesus’ death on the cross. Who has God placed in our path and in our circle of influence and in our neighborhood and school and place of work here in Barron County that we need to begin looking at in the same way? Who are the people we have previously disregarded or ignored or despised or turned a blind eye to that we need to see differently? Are Mexicans and Somalians also created in God’s image? I certainly believe so, yet are we treating them as such? What about those outcasts at school or the annoying kid on the bus or the arrogant guy who you work with? Proverbs 20:12 “Ears that hear and eyes that see – the LORD has made them both.” May God give us new eyes to see people as He sees them.
2. Boldness in Talking to People about Spiritual Things
It was cool for me to see our team members strike up conversations with complete strangers and be willing to pray with them. Before the trip, I provided the team with an evangelism resource that helps people learn to have spiritual conversations with others. It is a set of five questions from Bill Fay taken from his book Share Jesus Without Fear. Here they are: 1) Do you have any spiritual beliefs? 2) To you, who is Jesus? 3) Do you believe in Heaven and Hell? 4) If you died today, where would you go? 5) If what you believe was not true, would you want to know? Bill Fay’s questions are intended to be asked with genuine interest in the spiritual beliefs of others. You ask the question, then shut up and listen. If someone isn’t interested in talking about those things, you stop asking the questions. However, many people enjoy talking about their spiritual beliefs, especially if you are their friend and are genuinely interested in their answers. I challenge our team and all reading this post to try asking question 1 to a friend, family member, co-worker, classmate or stranger this week and see what happens. May we all be bold, not only in praying for others, but in actually talking with them and listening to them in regards to things that matter for eternity.