It always feels good to come home; to see your family again, to sit down in your favorite chair, and to sleep in your own bed. Simple pleasures of life are always made more precious by times of their absence and return. As excited as you were to leave on your mission trip, coming home will seem doubly sweet to your soul.
When you return however, you may also experience some things you have not anticipated. You may be physically exhausted. Your emotions may be all over the map. Having stepped back into your “normal” world, you may have difficulty trying to make all the pieces of what you have just experienced fit. This is not unusual. For the last several days your senses have been awash with new sounds, smells, sights, tastes, and ideas. You have been immersed into a different culture. You have listened to people speak a different language, and even when English was spoken it may have sounded strange to your ears. During these last days you’ve been living well beyond your normal routine. You’ve had to deal with a major disruption in your personal schedule as you have adapted to the ministry needs at hand. Perhaps you’ve stayed in cramped or uncomfortable living quarters. The change of food, the lack of privacy, and all the other differences in the way things are done have all combined to give you a small taste of the culture shock experienced by the missionaries which your church supports.
As the plane lands and you, along with the other passengers, disembark don’t be surprised if during the next few days you feel both physically and emotionally drained. Your body will need rest. Your soul will need time to sort through what you have just experienced allowing you to appreciate more fully the lessons God wants you to take away from your trip. While you have been busy as God’s instrument ministering in the lives of others, the Spirit of God has also been ministering to you. Remembered sights and sounds may make for an interesting story – but it is your new perspective on spiritual reality and your resulting heart change that God will use to encourage and challenge others in their service for the Lord.
Others in your church family will want to hear about your mission trip, especially if they have been praying for you while you were there. You will have ample opportunity to share your experience through testimony. You may be asked to share your testimony with a Sunday school class or you may be led to develop a presentation for a church service. If you are a pastor you may find yourself using events from your trip to illustrate future messages from the pulpit.
Make no mistake, going on a mission trip will not automatically make someone more holy than he was before he went; and it certainly doesn’t make anyone an expert on missions. What a mission trip will do however is to broaden a person's perspective on the world. It gives a unique opportunity to witness the Spirit of God at work in the hearts of men and women beyond the shores of America. It gives a believer the chance to experience a fellowship which is larger than nationality, race, or culture.
Please remember, whatever your reasons for taking a mission trip, God had a purpose which transcends anything you had in mind. It was God who led you to venture out beyond your comfort zone. It was God who called you to do a spiritual work. It was the Spirit of God who challenged you and equipped you to labor together with Christian brothers and sisters to accomplish a work for the Lord. It is also God who will now open your mouth to share with others what you have learned about yourself; what you have learned about the larger church family; and most of all, what you have learned about our glorious God who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that sinners might believe and be saved.