Summary: Many people think teams going on mission trips are a waste of time and money, here are reasons they are of great value to individuals and churches.
Since the Brazil mission team is preparing lunch for us today, I want to deal with an issue that typically comes up when a team is going on an overseas mission trip. I heard this same issue when I was at FBC Florence and from other Pastors in their churches. The issue is spending large amounts of money sending a mission team when work needs to be done in our community. For some people it is an issue of money --- thinking how restricted the church budget is and yet we are giving thousands of dollars to send these people on a mission trip. For others it is an issue of time/energy and that we should focus our attention on needs here and let people somewhere else take care of their own needs.
I think I am a good person to respond to this question because I have been on both sides of this issue. I have been on the sending side at FBC Florence and here and I have been on the receiving side at our church in Vermont.
Here are my points to the question: What is the value of sending a mission team to the mission field?
I. Value to the receiving church
1. Helps that church do things it cannot do for itself.
When we first arrived at Baptist Fellowship, Randolph, Vermont we had 45 people in the morning worship service. They had dropped down to 25 and were hanging on trying to keep the church going. We needed help! We could do the basic ministry things, but nothing extra. We had two children under the age of 12 and one of them was our son, Jeremy. Mission teams helped us provide sports camps, VBS and backyard Bible clubs to get things started.
We had mission teams conduct our VBS for the first 6 of the nine years we were there. We finally had enough people and training to do it our self.
The mission team going to Brazil is going to accomplish more in one week than the leaders there could do in six months.
2. Impact on the community.
The very first mission team we had come to the church while I was Pastor was from my brother, Merle’s, church, FBC Trussville, Alabama. They came in this big bus with 40 senior high teenagers and 10 leaders and took Randolph by storm! They had as many people on their mission team as we had in the whole church.
It was incredible! The local newspaper felt it was newsworthy and interviewed the team leader.
The mission team going to Brazil is going to make an impact on that community. When 37 Americans arrive in that community they will create a tremendous impact on the people. I can imagine the natives asking the same question people did in Vermont, “Why did you come so far to help us?” They will be in shock and disbelief that someone would do that for them. Then when they respond, “we have come because God led us to --- to help you know about the love of Jesus to forgive your sins”, they will listen.
3. Provides resources that we didn’t have.
Soon I developed a network on people and churches that were willing to help mission churches. As we had specific needs for curriculum they would ship it up. If we wanted a training conference in a certain area, they would send a trainer.
I can imagine the mission team going to Brazil is going to have people with skills in building or ministry that those in Brazil don’t have or can send later.
4. Encouragement to the church and leaders.
Being on the mission field is hard work and very discouraging. Sometimes the most important thing a team could do for us was just love on us and build us back up.
For those of you old enough to remember or have played the Pacman games, you remember how in certain places on the screen there were power balls that once Pacman or Ms Pacman ate them, they could move faster and were larger and stronger. After the mission teams came and worked with us, that is how I felt. I was renewed and strengthen and ready to fight Satan and his kingdom of darkness once again.
I believe the mission team to Brazil is going to make a difference for Jesus as they encourage and build up the leadership and lay people.
II. Value to the sending church
1. Helps people see the real need for mission work firsthand.
When I made my announcement to FBC Florence that I had accepted the call to go to Vermont, Pat Matthews was the Sunday School Director. He became mad at me for leaving the church. He felt he needed me to run the SS there.