Just yesterday, several of us from Destino Cristiano were wrapping presents for the kids at Nueva Creacion orphanage in La Paz, Mexico. I’m not talking about a few presents here. I’m talking about hundreds of them, all donated by people who have a heart to give at Christmas time. We had piles, all sorted by names and ages of kids that we have grown to love over the past few years. And though the task seemed almost insurmountable, we got to work conquering one present at a time. And it was fun. We found our Christmas cheer! Well, actually, we added to it!
Christmas cheer can be hard to come by, especially for those who have bad memories or negative experiences associated with the holidays. Some miss their loved ones who have passed on, or miss their families who are far away, or just feel alone. Many wish they could express their love with presents, but don’t have the finances to make Christmas all they believe it should be.
Well, being thousands of miles away from loved ones, I have had my sad moments, and yes, shed a few tears this Christams season. But you know what? I found my Christmas cheer by doing what Baby Jesus was born to do: Serve, love and give.
Is it possible that we lose our Christmas cheer when it’s more about us than about Jesus and others? Is it then possible that we find our Christmas cheer when we make the season about Jesus and others? I say “Yes” to both these questions. I’m not trying to oversimplify complex matters of the heart associated with the holidays, but I do believe our perspective plays a major role in how we move past whatever puts the frowns on our faces.
So smile if you can. If this is one of those years when a smile is too hard, just remember the baby! Spend some time giving thanks for the One who gave His son so that you would have life, so that you could overcome, so that you would be forgiven, so that you would have the victory, so that you can laugh once again.
Tips for Mission Trips
If you’re planning to go on a missionary journey or to travel with a mission group, you should seriously consider how to think like a missionary. While you may be excited about travelling and the adventure that awaits in a foreign country, remember that the church or organization you’ll be visiting is focused on the work of their ministry. Therefore, to think like a missionary, you must first understand and connect to their vision, to their city, their people and to their projects and programs.
Get familiar with the pastors and leaders. Don’t be afraid to write ahead to ask questions so you can discover their passion and purpose. Begin to pray about how God can use your strengths and skills while on the mission field. Although it’s impossible to completely understand the mind of the missionaries, its important to put your personal agenda aside for the their sake and to do your part in building God’s Kingdom in their region. When you do this, you are opening yourself up to unexpected experiences and blessings.
To think like a Missionary, you must put yourself in their shoes. They have left their home, family and friends to pursue their call in God. And while leaving home to become a missionary may sound romantic, that is rarely the case. Life is usually harder with a burden for the people and the region. They must do more with less. There’s a new language to learn and cultural differences to understand. Plus, there’s an ongoing need to fund the mission.
The following are a few more things to help you think like a missionary:
- Missionaries are not on vacation: If you are with a group, most hosts will plan some activities around the natural beauty or nearby recreational opportunities available. This is to add to your mission experience, but it is not the main focus.
- Complaining is futile: Be willing to do without what you think you need.
- Missionaries want help. They don’t need more work.
A missionary journey should include fun and be an adventure. But remember, utlimately, it’s a mission for God and you are serving Him. Keep Mark 10:42-45 in mind:
“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Learn more about Destino Cristiano’s Mission Group Opportunitites.