(Repost from Harvest Celebration Ministries.)
I'll be the first to say that there is trouble in America. But, we are still a very blessed nation. All you have to do is travel to another nation and observe. America is still seen as the land of opportunity to folks from almost every nation. Millions of folks have come to the U.S over the years to start a new life for themselves. And millions have done very well. Again, we are still a blessed nation!
However, the problem for we Americans is that we tend to be unaware of how about three quarters of the rest of the world lives. We're enclosed in our own culture making us oblivious to the rest of the world. This causes even Christians in our blessed nation to be insensitive to the needs of those in other parts of the world. It also produces an insensitivity to the needs of our neighbor, right here at home. There is a solution to this however. It's probably not for everyone, but definitely for most of us. The solution is to go on a ministry trip to another nation and culture.
I went on my first missions trip to India in 1997. Simply stated...it changed my Christian walk, hence, my life! First, I encountered culture shock. Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes. Culture shock is a challenge. Culture shock is a good thing however, because it gets your attention! Culture shock demands we focus on the differences we are not accustomed to. God employs culture shock to change a believer's life in a positive way. One more thing about culture shock. It makes real the truth that not everyone lives like we do.
Second, this missions trip with its culture shock made me a million times more appreciative of our way of life back at home. I was able to see all the ways I had been taking for granted the blessings God has poured out on our nation. God has blessed our nation because many people have taken the gospel to other nations of the world for centuries. If we want to stay blessed, we must continue to obey His command to "Go"! (See Mark 16:15-16)
And third, short-term missions made me realize that having "things" is not where true joy and happiness come from. As a follower of Jesus I knew this in my brain, but not in my heart. Through the culture shock I encountered, I saw people with far less "stuff", and far more every-day challenges than me. But they were happy. They had a joy I didn't have. They relied on the pure presence of Jesus. They had no choice but to fully trust in His Word. It broke my heart, not for them, but for me. As I said, it changed my walk with Jesus.
Let me encourage you to consider a short-term missions ministry trip. But plan to go to an area where life is hard for the folks who live there. Plan to encounter a really strong case of culture shock. Jesus said to "Go", so that part is a no-brainer. If he said to "Go", then the money part is easy. Your part is to obey the call to go. Your part is the simple decision to go. Then start looking for opportunities. Many local churches support missions and missionaries in various places around the planet. So finding an opportunity won't be hard. If it changed my life, it will change your life. Go with a servant's heart, because missions is all about service.
Finally, Harvest Celebration Ministries was conceived of and birthed as a result of my initial visits to India. God has opened doors many times in India, Honduras, and Guatemala. We've only just begun!