Are You Called To Missions?

When I surrendered my life to Jesus a ways back, I immediately began to feel that I needed to help people in far away lands. Honestly, at the time I didn't have a clue as to what that feeling meant, or how it would happen. But this new desire I began to have never left. Not too long after Jesus changed my life, I joined the U.S. Air Force and served for 6 years. The AF sent me and my family to Germany for 3 years. It was a great experience for my family as we learned to trust Him daily.

It was in Germany that God called me to preach and to pastor. After returning to the States I served at Robins AFB in GA for my final 2 years in the service. While we were at Robins AFB we became involved in what was then known as Holy Spirit Harvest Church in Macon. This incredible church was founded and pastored by Sam and Rheba Drye, who became our spiritual parents!

At the beginning of my last year in the military I was approached by Pastor Sam and asked to become the church's business administrator/associate pastor when I exited the service toward the end of that year. I accepted! I served under Pastors Sam and Rheba for 5 and a half years.

I had always had an affinity toward travel, especially on airplanes. A month or so after I surrendered to Jesus I was in an international airport to pick up my wife who was returning from a short trip. While I was waiting, the sounds of the jets and the smell of jet fuel caused an excitement in me. I began to imagine myself traveling and ministering in other nations of the world. I didn't have a clue (at that time) how this was going to happen. I just knew it would!

My first official missions trip was while I was still on staff at Holy Spirit Harvest Church. It was a week-long trip to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. The seeds were being planted. My next missions trip took place when I was the pastor of Jesup Christian Fellowship in Jesup, GA. Connie and I went to Canada to visit a missionary family which our church supported on a regular basis. More seeds were planted.

In 1996, while still pastor of Jesup Christian Fellowship I met Pastor G.R. Purushotham from India. Our church also supported his work as an Indian national. Pastor Purushotham came to our church to speak while he was itinerating in the States. He kept telling me, "You should come to India to preach the Word of God. The people are very, very hungry to hear God's Word!" So, in 1997 I made my first missions trip (alone) to India. This is the one that changed my life, and confirmed my calling to missions. (More on my first trip to India, and how it changed my life here.) God used the incredible hunger for the Word of God among the people of India to confirm the call on my life.

According to my own experience, my love for missions began with a call. I sensed this call early on in my service to Jesus. But always remember, the call has to unfold, one step at a time. This is where faith must be involved. Honestly, my first trip to India, the one that changed my life, was initially a "vision" trip to take a look at where our funds were going, and what they were being used for. When I was leaving India the first time, I had no desire to return. I felt the mission had been accomplished. But God used this objective to capture my heart, and to set me on a course that must be traveled by faith. After a week back home in the States, I knew I had to return to India. I've now been to India a total of 8 times.

We now reach into the nations of India and Honduras, sharing gospel of Jesus through Harvest Celebration Ministries. We're involved in encouraging the body of Christ, and pastors in Honduras, and helping to build church facilities in India. God has enabled us to offer sponsorships of needy children (In Honduras) that make an impact on their lives, their families, and the lives of those who sponsor the children.

I'm sharing all of this because there should be a call to missions. Yes, even short-term missions. And yes, sometimes folks go on missions trips for the wrong reasons. But if the call is there, God will confirm it. If the call is there, you will know it. The power and anointing is in the call, and in the obedience to the call.

So let me ask you, are you called? If you feel that you are, then go for it! Take steps of faith that get you in line with God's call on your life. If you're called, expect Him to provide. Expect Him to change the lives of those hungry for God. Prepare to have your life changed. I would love to hear your story. Feel free to make some brief comments. You have a testimony that will encourage others who must answer a similar call!

Why Should You Go On A Short-term Missions Trip?

I love it when my post title is a question! That means my whole post will be the answer. So here goes! The answer is: There are many great reasons that you should go on a missions trip. So many I probably couldn't give them all in just one post. But I will give what I think are 6 of the best reasons.

Number 1: Because Jesus said to. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15) When Jesus said "Go", He made it possible for you. It doesn't matter how much it costs, it is possible, and He will provide. When Jesus said "Go into all the world..." He meant that the body of Christ is responsible for proclaiming the gospel all over the world. He may call your neighbor to go across the street. And He may call you to go to India! Key word again, "Go!" The number 1 reason to go on a short-term missions trip is because Jesus said that we are to "Go".

Number 2: Because when you go, reason Number 1 is validated. This is what I mean. In most cases, a person doesn't fully comprehend the great commission until they take the step of faith to go. I'm a good example. My first trip to India was a visionary trip to observe how our money was being spent as our church supported a ministry there. This trip changed my life! (See post below.) I'll explain more on this later, but let me say now that I could quote the great commission forwards and backwards. But it wasn't until my life was changed by going far away, to a completely different culture, to a people who were hungry for God, that I totally understood the great commission. It takes a step of obedience to go. And remember, passion is born out of obedience. You'll never understand the great commission until you share God's passion for the world! His passion changes the ordinary into the extraordinary!

Number 3: Because it gives you a new perspective on how the rest of the world lives. In our comfy, Western culture we tend to be quite unaware of what's going on in the rest of the world. Yes, we can know what's going on politically because of the news media. But you do realize the news media only reports what they want you to hear, and what they want you to believe. The truth is, the only way you can begin to understand another culture is to be the midst of that culture. "Culture shock" is not a bad thing. It gives us a new, true perspective on others. And in our comfy "church" culture we tend to be quite unaware of what's going on with God's people in the rest of the world. You might be unaware of this, but God is moving mightily in other cultures around the world. People have much less and are much happier because they've found the love of Jesus in the midst of their adversities. Commitment levels range higher than we could imagine here in our nation.

Number 4: Because you come home with a different perspective on how we live and what we have here at home. Many times a short-term missions trip to another culture makes us appreciate much more what we have at home. We look at things differently. What we once took for granted we notice and appreciate more. We also see that some of the things we possess really possess us. It's much easier to give those things up. Remember, it takes a proper perspective of what we have here at home to make the great commission a fulfilled reality for us. Without proper perspective the great commission is no more than some nice words spoken by Jesus.

Number 5: Because it changes your life. When I say it changes you life, I mean it changes your life! You are never ever the same. Not to worry, it changes you for the better. Not everyone will understand your passion though. That's why you'll be drawn to others who share your passion.
It's like this. Don't ask me about my missions experiences, and how they've changed my life...unless you really want to hear them! And...if you really want to hear them, you'd better have a lot of time! I am passionate about missions. Why? The passion Jesus has for the nations of the world (missions) has changed my life. This passion has become the main thrust of my life! As for me, missions has messed me up! I don't look at life the way I used to. I cannot be completely comfortable with all I have, knowing others have much less, but are much happier. It makes me want to have less...and be satisfied. It makes me trust God for the things that have eternal significance. That's the way it has messed me up!

Number 6: Because going on a short-term missions trip will give you a view of eternal significance. And man, do we need to see the things which carry eternal significance. We folks are involved in so much "stuff" today (even in the name of the church and ministry). I mean stuff that really has no eternal significance. It's so easy to be busy. We need divine discernment to choose what is divinely significant. Short-term missions has given me that discernment. It is easier to see what God sees now. Missions is His heart. When we get His heart, we get His vision.

You must have a heart to serve in order to make a significant impact wherever God sends you. That is the heart of missions...serving. It is not about vacationing or touring. It's about serving. Short-term missions is an effective way to develop a servant's heart. Jesus said, "The greatest among you will be you servant." (Matthew 23:11) Jesus meant that the greatest work will be accomplished through those who have humbled themselves to serve. That's exactly what He did....and look at the impact He made!

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How Do You Raise Funds For Your Upcoming Missions Trips?

I recently asked our Instagram followers how they are raising funds for their upcoming missions trips. The responses were very good! Here they are:

✈ @joy_marielle_ - Tee shirts through @fundthenations, Parents Night Out, Selling clothes, etc.

✈ @aleigha_k - Support letters, Discount card selling, Fundraiser dinner.

✈ @lightforindia - I'm going on a mission trip to India and need about $3000 by May! I'd love to hear more ideas!

✈ @tyler_godfrey25 - Support letters, and a bucket around a city.

✈ @xsweganx - Support letters, odd jobs, sell bracelets, and I sell candy bars at church/school.

✈ @melissa_hope_rie_ - Bake sale.

✈ @cpmoore3 - Support letters,

✈ @jessiecamertz - I went with only partial funding...I have a blog about it. But long story short...a friend made a quilt and raffled it off for me.

✈ @tytytyy - Host a babysitting day, have responsible friends baby sit with you at a park. Plan activities and games for the kids! Make it a donation. I was blessed to have raised $400 in 4 hrs. watching 23 kids with 7 friends/family helping me. Great way to share the missions purpose in a different way.

✈ @tytytyy - A garage sale, cleaning houses, and yard work are also great! I believe it's good to work for it, so that you are being willing to serve before the trip begins!

Again, these are great ideas for raising funds for your upcoming missions trip. As we get more, we will post them!

My First Trip To India Changed My Life!

My first trip to India was the one that radically changed my life as a follower of Christ. I was the Pastor of a church which regularly supported an Indian pastor. My purpose for my first trip to India was more visionary than anything else. I wanted to get a good look at where the church's finances were going, and how it was being used. This particular purpose quickly gave way to God's divine purpose for my change my life.

I prepared as best I could for the trip. However, nothing could have prepared me for what I would experience in India. The Indian culture is like none other on the planet. I had heard the term "culture shock", but had never experienced it until I went to India. The culture shock was amazing, but that is not what changed my life. What changed my life was the "hunger shock".

The people I visited were so hungry for the Word of God. They sat for hours as I preached through a translator. I was even told after my first couple of messages, "You must preach even longer. They are hanging on to your every word!" So as I did, these followers of Christ, hungry for the purity of God's Word began to pull from me the very substance of the God they longed for. I yielded and became a simple vessel. I saw miracles, healings, and people overwhelmed with God's amazing presence. And equally as important to me, I saw God working through me like I'd never experienced before. It changed my life!

The humility of these folks, also contributed to my life being changed. The trip to India is grueling. It is long. There was a 10 and a half hour difference in time zones. I got off the fourth and final leg of my journey early on a Thursday morning. The journey wasn't over yet. It was another 4 hour drive to my final destination. In India a 4 hour journey becomes a 6 hour one! My body and mind were screaming to me (inside), "You have to crash! You need some rest!" We finally arrived at the little hotel where I was to stay. It was very humble, no a/c, and not as clean as one would like. As I entered into the very humble hotel room I glanced up. Just over the door were the words "Deluxe Room". That did it. The tears began to flow. They had given me their very best and I was humbled. Most of all I was blessed!

The shower in the bathroom was a pipe (cold water only) coming out of the wall. At this point, it didn't matter. I took a wonderful, cold shower and afterwards plunged my face into a pillow for a 3 hour nap. When they arrived to pick me up for our first meeting, I felt like I was floating off in space (somewhere)! I was exhausted!

We arrived at the meeting place (under a tent) and these hungry followers of Christ were praising God at the tops of their voices, with all of their hearts. This hunger in worship began to effect me as the Spirit of God began to rise up within me. When I stepped up to preach in India for the very first time my life changed drastically! (Much more to come.)