Why go on foreign missions? We know the goal of missions is to proclaim the gospel and to make disciples. But I think foreign missions teach us a lot about the gospel too. On the recent FBC trip to Uganda, our diet, sleeping arrangements, personal hygiene facilities, insects and language were some of the foreign elements of our trip. When Christians are on short-term trips some of us see the “foreign” elements of the trip as short-term adventure, others as a short-term discomfort. But the foreign elements can be a constant reflection on the gospel.
Foreign missions allow us to live like Christ. In Philippians 2 Paul tells us to have the mind of Christ, doing “nothing from selfish ambition or conceit” but looking to the “interest of others.” Missions only for the sake of adventure would be selfish ambition, and missions always focused on our discomfort would be conceit.
But foreign missions put us in a great situation to practice a Philippians 2 Christlikeness. Missions are not only about adventure or discomfort but about humbling ourselves for the joy set before us. Few on missions are humbled to the point of death like Christ, but we can all be humbled.
When our surroundings are foreign and uncomfortable, we remember Christ, who was equal with God but humbled Himself to become a man. We might find on missions that some experiences are not accomplished at the same comfort level we are used too. Jesus is the all-powerful, all-righteous God, and before He came to earth He—rightly—never experienced discomfort in any way. Yet the independent and all-powerful God took on humanity for us. He lived and died like a man that we might live with Him forever.
So we live like our brothers and sisters in a foreign country with minor discomforts not for our own ambition and not in conceit, but in the interest of others, that we might all live with Christ forever, and reflect on his great love for us now. It is the love of Christ that compels us… I hope it compels you to go also!