Mission Trip Devotional
With Jesus Daily
Intentional devotional time with a daily mission trip devotional
Your mission trip experience will be much richer if you are intentional about the spiritual dimensions of your journey. You can weave spiritual reflection into your days through group and personal daily mission trip devotional time. Here are some mission trip devotion time suggestions to help you and your team grow spiritually during your mission experience.
Personal daily mission trip devotional time
Set aside time each day for team members to spend alone with God. This time can be used to reflect on what you talked about in group daily mission trip devotional, pray for the day ahead, journal, or read a devotional book. Here are a few questions to help spur personal reflection:
- What do I think and feel about what I did today and where I saw God at work?
- How did I see Christ in other people today?
- How can I act like Christ toward others?
- How was I changed today?
- How will I bring what I experienced today home with me to share?
- How was I challenged today? How did I respond to the challenge?
- What did God teach me today?
- How can I be Christ to someone today/tomorrow?
- How can I use my God-given gifts and talents to serve at this work site?
- Is there a way that I can help or disciple someone at this worksite, even if it only in a short conversation?
Group daily mission trip devotional time
A brief morning devotion time as a group can help to focus the day and bring the group together. This could be as simple as a verse, a brief word of encouragement, and a prayer. It works best to do a longer, more in-depth group daily mission trip devotional time in the evening so team members can process and discuss that day’s experiences together. Begin your nightly devotions with a time of sharing. Encourage group members to talk about God sightings, challenges, and things they learned during the day.
Follow your time of sharing by diving into the Word. You can use a ready-made Bible study or pick out your own verses to discuss. Ask your group how that night’s passage speaks to them as individuals. The most powerful Bible study experiences usually involve personal as well as group reflection.
Consider using music in your daily mission trip devotional as well. If someone in your group can play guitar, have them bring one along to play worship songs. Otherwise, you can play songs on someone’s phone and sing along. End devotions with prayer.
We are Rescued to Rescue
I heard a story on the news about a group of castaways whose boat capsized at sea and they washed up on shore of a deserted island. They spelled out the word “HELP” in big letters on the beach with leaves and branches. The sign led to their rescue when a pilot spotted it from the air. This story caught my attention right away and, in some way, seemed so unrealistic. It sounded more like an episode from “Gilligan’s Island” instead of real life.
I wondered, with all of our progress and technology today, if people still cry out for help by spelling it out on the beach?
Just like that pilot, we are all flying around in our planes, safe and already rescued. And if we are not careful, we will simply miss the signs.
We fly from one destination to another, in our hurried lives, forgetting why we were rescued in the first place … forgetting that we are on a rescue mission every day … forgetting that we are rescued to rescue.
When you view your life through the lens of “rescue,” things become quite clear. The truth is, we should focus on being rescuers each day. Otherwise, we miss seeing the people around us crying out for help, spelling it out on the beaches of their lives any way they can.
I met little Diego in the hills of Guatemala. He was living at the Baby Rescue Center where he was receiving medical care, nutritious food, and all the love that he needed. He was a happy baby, but his smile did not tell his whole story.
You see, Diego was literally found in a trash heap when he was just a few days old. All that saved him was his little leg sticking out of one of the boxes. Someone saw. Someone stopped. Someone rescued him.
Some rescues, like Diego, are dramatic. They are life-and-death moments. And some are simple everyday encounters. But the moment of rescue is always right in front of us, if we choose to see.
We know what it’s like to be rescued. And I believe God is calling us to restore hope to a hurting world … we’ve been rescued to rescue.
‘Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.’ Ephesians 5:1-2
Love Like That
I was in a remote part of Rwanda visiting a community in extreme poverty. They had the highest concentration of HIV/AIDS in the nation — yet no medical resources. This was also a place where children were abandoned. Parents would leave the village to find work, never to return.
We had the privilege of handing out Bibles to people who had never owned one. They rushed to line up to receive their very own copy of God’s Word. The Scriptures were still so precious to them, in spite of their desperate conditions.
It was hot, dusty, dirty and by the end of the day I was tired, hungry, and to be honest, emotionally spent. I had just cleaned off my hands and arms to hold me over until I could get a good shower, when one of our team members said the village pastor wanted me to come to his home and pray over him and his family.
Now, I would like to say my immediate reaction was super spiritual. But it was not. I begrudgingly got back out of the car and started walking toward the pastor’s home. I quickly found myself standing before this dedicated pastor and his family in their modest village home and realized he wanted me … me … to pray over him. This pastor who shepherds a flock living in extreme poverty, with abandoned children everywhere, with people fighting HIV. He wanted me to pray for him. I was humbled and I was convicted. And then he proceeded to present me with a gift. It was in a bag, but inside I could see a jerry can … you know, those bright yellow jugs you see in photos of Africa that are usually used to carry water.
To my surprise it was honey. And, it was the largest jug of honey I’ve ever held and I’m sure the most valuable thing they could have given me. I realized that in the face of extreme poverty, this pastor and his family had poured out extravagantly and given me their very best. And I will never forget.
Maybe we all should give up our “honey” in the same way.
Sometimes “rescue” looks a lot like sacrifice. Loving others selflessly. Giving something away whether it’s a meal, your time, your resources. It’s all about love — extravagant love.
We need to learn to “love like that.”
‘And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.’ John 1:5
Lost in Light
Maybe you have heard of light pollution. It’s the artificial light that contaminates our night sky, limiting our view of the stars. That’s why the stars are clearer and brighter the farther away you go from all the artificial lights. Because of all the city lights, it’s hard to see clearly the beauty and vividness of the stars lighting up the sky. Typically, if you want to look through a telescope to see celestial objects in deep space, you have to go somewhere that’s pitch black. Only then can you see the night sky as it truly is — littered with stars and planets.
I’ve never felt the presence of darkness more strongly than when I walked the streets of Thailand and saw firsthand the impact of the sex industry. I felt lost in darkness. In contrast, what I have realized is that here at home we live in a bright world — a blindingly, bright world. We are not lost in the darkness, we are lost in the light.
This artificial light can distract us from the true needs that exist. Distractions of our comfortable lives: Netflix binging, vacations, shopping, and overall busyness of our day-to-day schedules. If we aren’t leaving room in our lives to see the darkness, then we can’t see people who are in desperate need of rescue. And when we are “lost in light” we can’t reach into the darkest places of our world with the light of hope.
I have decided this — that I would much rather stay in the darkness than live and stay in a place that is so bright I can’t even see real darkness. I have started to read John 1:5 in a new way. It says, “The light shines the darkness.”
Do you see what that means?
The light can only shine the darkness. You have to go into the darkness in order for the light to shine.
When you are willing to step out of the light into that complete darkness — then and only then do you see God’s redemptive plan and the story He is writing across the sky. Only then can you see the stars of hope.
Once you step out of the light, out of all the comfort and safety, you can see clearly those who need rescuing. Those who need you are just outside of the light.
‘Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’ John 8:36
You are Free
Years ago there was a commercial by the Royal Bank of Scotland showing people riding up a mountain in a gondola lift, when all of a sudden it stops — just swinging mid-air, high above the ground. Everyone begins to panic and scream. One guy takes charge and says, “It’s OK, guys, I’ve taken a course — positive thinking — a positive thought makes a positive impact.”
They all start nervously chanting … “a positive thought, makes a positive impact — a positive thought, makes a positive impact.” Meanwhile, another passenger is quietly searching inside the gondola for a way to help and spies a green button. He pushes it, which starts the gondola back up again. The tagline of the commercial is, “There’s no substitute for action — make it happen.”
Sometimes Christians can act like the frightened people in the gondola. We get paralyzed by the fear of our circumstances. But we aren’t really stuck … there is a “button,” a simple solution to fix the crisis. Christ has made a way for us to be free. Free from sin, fear, anxiety, addiction … we are set free once and for all through Him. But sometimes we cling to old habits, forgetting to walk in the freedom that was purchased for us.
If we have found the restoration and hope that is possible through Christ, shouldn’t it stir us to see those who are suffering, and those without hope? Rescue never begins out of neutrality. We can’t feel indifferent about it. We can’t shield our eyes to the dark realities of it.
As people who have been rescued and set free, how much more should we long to rescue and restore those in desperate need around us?
As Christ-followers, isn’t that what our lives are really all about? Being God’s rescuers and His hands and feet here on earth. Being willing to answer His call, to bring hope to those who are desperate for it.
So today, I challenge you to walk in freedom — remember that you have been set free. And take that freedom to the hurting world around you.
Jesus heals, rescues, restores, and redeems. That’s our one hope and the only story we have to share.
‘The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.’ Psalms 34:17
Charge the Dungeons
I heard a story once about a place called Cape Coast Castle. Located in central Ghana, this old castle was originally used for trading, and then as a fort — but during the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, it was used to house slaves while they awaited transport to the New World.
Dungeons were added beneath this building where up to 1,500 slaves could be kept at one time for as long as three months. Hundreds were crammed into tiny rooms … chained and forced to lie in their own urine and feces for months. Can you imagine the smells and the absolutely horrific conditions?
Today, Cape Coast Castle is a tourist attraction. And as one of the tour guides led a group through the dungeons, he told them something that I have not been able to forget. “Guess what is right above these dungeons?” he asked. “A chapel!”
Think about that. A chapel. A place of worship was right above those horrible dungeons. So, while hundreds were held captive, people in the chapel above probably sang, prayed, read Scripture, and perhaps even took an offering for the less fortunate. And all the while there was unspeakable suffering right beneath them.
Then the guide said, “Heaven was above — but hell was below.”
I believe there are still many dungeons here on earth — dungeons of poverty, dungeons of disease, dungeons of slavery, abuse, fear, and hopelessness.
And as people of faith, we can’t be numb and blind to the suffering all around us. We need to go into the dungeons — reach into the dungeons of this world — embrace the dungeons of the world — charge into the dungeons of the world — until the dungeons become the church. That is what our lives should be all about.
Isn’t that what redemption and rescue mean? We, who were once broken, lost, and desperate for help, can now help to rescue and restore others.
As people of faith, rescue is what we do. It’s who we are. It’s what we should be all about.
I believe that God is calling us to restore hope … we’ve been rescued so that we can now rescue. The same God who rescued me, can rescue you.
‘By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?’ I John 3:16-17
Don’t forget who you are
The story goes that there was once a little lifesaving station on a dangerous seacoast. It was just a small building and they only had one boat, but they had dedicated members who kept constant watch over the waters.
They saved many lives — so many in fact that this little station began to draw attention. People began to take notice. And before long their membership grew. The new members wanted to do some improvements to the little operation, and they replaced the cots with beds, purchased new furniture, and expanded the building. The facility was now so nice that the members wanted to spend time there. And it started to become a social club. And instead of the members doing the lifesaving work themselves, they hired it out.
Around that time there was a huge shipwreck off the coast with many people aboard. The hired rescue crews started bringing the desperate passengers into the station. They were hurt, sick, hungry, dirty, and soaking wet. The influx of people began to mess up the pristine “club,” so the members decided to install outdoor showers so victims could clean up before coming inside.
And some members took it a step further. They did not like the disruption to the club that the lifesaving operations made. So, the club split, and a few members went down the coast to start a new lifesaving station.
But it only took a few years for the same pattern to happen again. That new lifesaving station also turned into a social club.
One thing has not changed. Shipwrecks still happen in these waters … but the people once tasked to rescue have forgotten their “why.”
Sometimes we forget who we are … what we were created for. We lose our “why” — it’s no longer about helping people, or rescuing, but just taking care of our own.
As people of faith we are lifesavers, second-chance givers, hope restorers, rescuers.
That’s who we are — that’s what we do.
We can’t just be a “country club” of Christians, looking out for our own, when we’re made to be out in the storms of life, wrestling with the waves, throwing out life vests.
We’ve been rescued so that we can now rescue.
‘And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ‘ II Corinthians 12:9
When I was growing up, my dad worked at a university. One summer he led a group of students to Brazil and my family was able to join him. While there we stumbled across this little boy who was about 5 years old. He had no shoes, no shirt – he was just wearing a torn piece of underwear. He was a street child. At that time in Brazil, there were thousands of street children, but God had put this one little boy in my path — one little boy named Nildo. I may not have been able to help all the street children in Brazil, but I could make a difference for him.
Since then, my work has taken me around the world, and I have been confronted with great human need everywhere I go. People living in extreme poverty; women abused, sold, and treated as property; children sick from the effects of dirty water, and Christians persecuted for their faith. And it is not just halfway around the world. There are desperate people right across the street. Friends battling cancer, marriages ending in divorce, lost jobs, and children being bullied. If I am honest, the number of people in great need in our world today is simply overwhelming.
But here’s the thing — although we get the opportunity to rescue, we aren’t called to save every person. That would be a huge burden that no individual can carry. But we can help one.
Maybe you feel inadequate, not fully equipped to help someone who is hurting or lost. I’ve got good news: you’re in good company.
Our part? Be willing. God’s part? The rest! That doesn’t sound as intimidating, does it?
I know that sometimes insecurities, fears, and doubts can get in the way. Would God really call me to help this person, travel to this country, go THAT far out of my comfort zone? The answer is yes. He does call us to do hard and seemingly impossible things for those desperate and hurting in our world. But not all in our own strengths or abilities.
God’s strength and power shine like the sun through all of our weaknesses and limitations.
We are rescued to rescue. But ultimately the point isn’t in the rescuing — it’s in pointing others to the Rescuer.