“Let’s go somewhere!” The request from our two-year-old granddaughter surprised me, because at the time we were sitting comfortably on the living room floor, surrounded by her many toys, books, and other amusements. She had our full attention in her playtime. Many of her favorite foods and snacks were nearby. We hadn’t even turned on any electronic distractions yet. But she was ready to go somewhere.
Ivy has been learning recently that the world is so much bigger than the comforts of her home, or even her grandparents’ home. She has learned to love the park, the mall, her church, and yes, Walmart. Even video chats with her cousins remind her how much fun it would be to go to Colorado again. And with more and more of those exciting places and experiences now stored in her memory, her toddler logic tells her that there must be countless others, if we would just go somewhere.
Going somewhere should be a growing desire in our churches too, all the time, but especially now as summer approaches. We should be talking about where the group or groups from our church might go to help deliver the gospel, or to work alongside a church or a church planting missionary that needs help engaging their community.
Mission trips can be times of great spiritual transformation. Certainly they can change for eternity the lives of those who hear the good news of Jesus Christ. And they can also reshape the lives of the participants. Many times, those who engage in short-term mission trips return newly motivated and empowered to live more missional lives at home.
Every church, regardless of its size or location, can provide life-changing mission trip opportunities for its members. Ask your pastor what opportunities your church may already have planned! And if your church needs assistance, your local association or our staff at IBSA can help you find a destination and partner that would eagerly welcome your group’s assistance.
If you don’t already have plans for this summer, let me invite you to join me and several of our IBSA staff on a special, short-term mission project right here in Illinois. On August 4-5, the North American Mission Board’s “Serve Tour” is coming to Chicago. For two days, multiple ministry projects are being pre-planned around four “hub” locations in various parts of the city, each hosted by an IBSA church. Whether you have a group from your church or just one or two individuals, you’re welcome to participate.
For more information, go to servetour.org and click on the Chicago project. Once you indicate your interest, you’ll be notified about how to register for more specific projects and locations.
There are several great things about this summer missions opportunity. It’s a chance to meet and work alongside hundreds of volunteers from other Baptist churches. The only cost is for your personal transportation and lodging. It’s relatively brief, requiring only one or two days off work for most people. And you can choose a project that best fits your skills or passions.
My wife, Beth, and I plan to participate, along with several IBSA staff. Volunteers from dozens of IBSA churches have already registered. If you can’t go personally on these specific dates, maybe you can help sponsor others from your church who can.
This summer let’s not be content to stay home and sit in the comfort of our routines and safe relationships. Let’s find ways to deliver love and service and the gospel message to those who are still far from God.
Let’s go somewhere!
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.