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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to have a great mission trip

Returning from a mission trip brings its challenges, not the least of which
is the physical adjustment to a time zone that is almost eleven hours behind
the place you just left. Sometimes I really struggle with adjusting my
biological clock to the clock on the wall, and the reality that, while your
body tells you it should be six o'clock in the morning, the sky outside
tells you it is nigh unto dusk. When I woke up in Bangaluru Thursday morning
it was 6:00 A.M. there, but it was 7:30 P.M. Wednesday night here at home.
It would be almost 40 hours before I would be able to lay my body down for a
decent rest. Going that far, that fast, does not seem to be a part of what
God intended for our physical bodies. Of course, the "slow boat to China"
may be easier on the body, but it really chews up a lot of time. So, until
my body adjusts to the Central Time Zone, I'll take advantage of those wee
hours of the morning when I can't sleep to get some reading, study and
meditat ion under my belt. I figure that just about the time I am used to
getting up at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning instead of 2:00 or 3:00 that it
will be time for Daylight Savings to kick in, and I'll have to roll back the
clock and find myself getting up yet one more hour earlier.

But there are other challenges that I face when I come home. For one thing
there is the readjustment to a daily schedule that is disrupted when I make
a mission trip to Russia or India. At home there are those constant
reminders that there is a sense of "permanence" here that is not present
when travelling over seas. Medical appointments, mowing the lawn, paying
bills, and weekly shopping, to name but a few. When I leave all this behind
and immerse myself in preaching and teaching, I tend to forget those things
that await me when I come home. For several days after my arrival home I am
busy catching up with bills, correspondence, writing, and reading; and the
longer I have been gone, the more there is to catch up with. Sometimes it is
simply overwhelming.

Another challenge is readjusting my emotional barometer (if I may call it
that). The opportunities for preaching and teaching the gospel in some
places are abundant; and in some cases simply astonishing. Take for example
my recent work in India. Brother J.C. Bailey first went to India to present
the pure message of Christ to a people steeped in idolatry. The response was
so astonishing that brethren back home simply did not believe there were so
many being baptized. The response was in the 100's, and in some cases in the
1,000's. Churches of Christ were being established throughout India,
especially in the south eastern part of that country. After fifty years the
rate of growth does not seem to have abated. The receptivity of the gospel
continues to this day. Large audiences, open hearts, and precious souls
responding give a visiting missionary a spiritual "high" that lifts his
spirit and gives him a deeper appreciation for the work of those who have
"bea utiful feet" [see Romans 10:15). When I come home there is a return to
the reality that the soil for planting the seed of God's word that exists in
India on a wide scale is not present in much of the Western world. Wealth,
prosperity, humanism, atheism, self indulgence - pick what you want; these
are the things that have hardened the hearts of so many in our country so
much so that trying to find the good and honest heart is like the proverbial
search for a needle in a haystack. I realize that work in this "mission
field" we call the United States is difficult, disheartening and often
discouraging; but we rest on the promise that we shall reap if we faint not.

Finally, there is a challenge of readjustment to a society that is literally
saturated with sin and ungodliness. From the head to the foot (to borrow the
words of Isaiah) the moral climate in America is in the cesspool. I am not
suggesting that India is a sinless society, but it seems that here in
America sin is flaunted openly and without any shame on the part of the
people and the politicians. America wears her pride on her sleeve. Humility
is an endangered species. Right or wrong, my perception is that in India
there is a sense of moral responsibility and humility of heart that makes
the preaching of the gospel such a success.

I can adjust my biological clock fairly quick; I can adjust to my daily
routine here at home. But I find it much more difficult to face a world that
seems bent on slapping God in the face. Therein is the great challenge of
coming home.

by Tom Wacaster

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