Opinion: mission trips don’t have to be long distance

Evangeline Colarossi—Staff Writer

What’s the point of a mission trip? Is it to bring the gospel to third world countries? Maybe it’s just to learn what it means to serve wholeheartedly and show the love of Christ, to offer help wherever it’s needed.

But what if we begin to ignore the mission opportunities already around us, just so we have an excuse to travel somewhere where new problems need to be solved?

During high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to go on 4 different mission trips. What I want to tell you is that I loved each of those mission trips for different reasons. But I don’t want for you to think that they were life-changing experiences just because they were labeled as mission trips.

The first was a week long and took place at a Christian summer camp in Colorado. The second took me to various places and states: a preschool in Lawrence, Kansas, only 200 miles from where I lived; a park in Nebraska City, where my family went hiking several years in a row; and a flooded house in Kearny, Missouri. The third took place in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, months after a wildfire. The fourth took me to Haiti, finally out of the states—everyone’s ideal mission trip, right?

But what makes a mission trip a Mission Trip?

The word “mission” is defined as “an important assignment, a calling, to go out and spread the news.” That says nothing about being in the dirty shacks of a village, holding onto kids of a different ethnicity, or digging a well in Africa.

PLIA can be a mission trip, but so can my walk to the commons. So can your trek to the library, grocery store, or grandparents’ house. The distance isn’t what matters. What matters is the amount of mission trips we pass by on a daily basis simply because they don’t take us anywhere exciting.

Sometimes it’s easier to serve and love people when you feel as though you are the only one to help them, but the truth is, sometimes you aren’t.

Those people that I met in Haiti could have been helped by anyone— they didn’t need a bunch of teenagers from Kansas. The summer camp in Colorado could have been helped by a more local youth group. The flooded home owners in Missouri could have been found by someone else. I learned so much from being able to help in those different situations, but that doesn’t mean that those were the only places I could have been helping.

However, a girl who struggles with anxiety that I have never once asked to eat lunch with me— that’s the mission trip I’ve been avoiding. So is the person across the hall from me who just needs someone to look over their paper before they submit it, and maybe pray for peace.
I may not be the only person to reach out to those people either, but if I recognize that I can help, not to do so would be wrong. If I’m given an opportunity to show Christ’s love, what reason do I have not to? How can I say that I am living for the purpose of loving when I am ignoring those around me who need the love of God just as much as the little kids in Haiti did?

On the last day of a mission trip, one of my teammates said, “We’re Christians, and this is how we live.” Those were simple words coming out of the mouth of a 16-year-old. Those words are now written in the back of my Bible and have shaken my mindset since the moment he said them. I don’t want to try and explain what those words mean, because frankly, I can’t do them justice. Instead, let them sink into your heart and ask God what it means to live that way.

Every day of your life is a mission trip. Treat it with as much concern and diligence as you’d treat one that took you to visit strangers hundreds of miles away. And if you see me living my life in a way that doesn’t reflect what I’ve just said, call me out. As Christians, we should live for the purpose of making Heaven more crowded—whether those souls come from halfway around the world or from your own dorm room.

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