It is getting to be missions season and I love looking through the many opportunities that are available for our students. Short term missions is the bread and butter of student ministry and I hope that you are planning on finding some way for your students to get missional, get cross cultural, and serve the poor in what ever context you are and are going. Nate McHenry is the Founder of IMchange a missions organization that provides missions opportunities for students. He wanted to share is origination with you, and I wanted you to be spurred on to think biblically, mission ally, philosophically, and theologically as you consider missions.
Engaging Jesus through the poor
Have you ever asked yourself, "How in the world can I get this student to see that Jesus is what he/she needs?" For the last 15 years, nothing has accelerated my student's passion and love for Jesus and others more than mission trips. For me personally, mission trips and serving the "poor" have provided unparalleled context to my pursuit of Jesus. Several years ago, I watched (and re-watched and still watch) an interview with Bono of U2 (not just because I love U2) by Bill Hybels that significantly encouraged my suspicions that the greatest way to connect young people to Jesus is through the poor.
James 1:27 (the message) says, "Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
Next to the theme of salvation, the poor is the most dominate topic throughout the Holy text. The reason that student's relationships with Christ go deeper in missions experiences is because Jesus is with the poor, marginalized, forgotten, and underprivileged. It is impossible to not see Christ at work in the lives of the poor if you hang out there with any sort of sustained time. He resides there. If a student is struggling in his/her relationship with Christ...stick them in an outreach with the poor. It is a transformational epiphany or recognition and reality that places correct context around our lives at a quickened pace. I often liken it to the original Mario Brothers on Nintendo. Throughout the journey to save the princess, you're given the opportunity to advance your play through "Warp Zones." The warp zone fast forwards your play to higher levels. Likewise, providing our students with missions experiences will propel them to a new level of relationship with Christ and with people. There is nothing like a compassion encounter with the poor that stabilizes and reduces the pervasive humanism spirit and reorients us to Christ at the center of our lives.
The light of Scripture
IMchange Mission trips have evolved out of this revelation of "Christ is with the poor."
1. Take a quick look at some of the Bible's commentary on where God resides and spends His time.
Deuteronomy 10:18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing
Psalm 12:5 "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the LORD. "Then I will protect them from those who malign them."
Psalm 72:12-14 For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.
Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed."
2. Now look at how God invites us to the place of His presence and dwelling among the poor.
Proverbs 31:8-9 "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Isaiah 1:17 Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
Luke 14:12-14 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
I John 3:17-18 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth
5-P's benefits of a Mission Trip in a student's life
1. Positions a young person to experience Christ in a formative encounter.
2. Personalizes a common bond for a student with his or her peers in a context that propels everyone toward Christ.
3. Provides a tangible life and purpose to Christianity in our world today
4. Postures a student's heart to live their life purposefully for others and not just for their own pleasure.
5. Pushes away the affections and temporary attractions of this world and molds an eternal reality in the heart of the student.
IMchange Missions Trips (stateside and international) at www.imchange.org/mcw. Nearly every student ministry facilitates a "camp or retreat" type trip for their students. These are powerful, meaningful, and often life altering events. However, IMchange Mission Camps enhance that experience by providing a missions element to that camp event.
What is an IMchange Mission Camp Week?
You can bill it as a mission trip, a new look summer camp, or call it what you like. IMchange Mission Camp weeks are Sunday-Friday. Your group will arrive on Sunday afternoon around 3pm. After you’ve moved into the lodging facilities for the week, you’ll eat dinner and have your first evening gathering. The evening gatherings are customized for your group. It may include a time of worship, teaching, small groups, etc. We can provide the worship team, speakers, and gathering time direction or you can bring your own (most groups bring their own). Monday-Thursday during the day (8-4pm) your group will serve a community through home repair projects or community service programs. Typically, your group is divided into teams of 10-15 people and sent out to make a huge impact on people’s lives. Teams are assigned one project for the week that may include building a wheelchair ramp, painting a home for an elderly person, building a fence, gutting a home, assisting in disaster relief efforts, etc. Each team will have the opportunity to personally interact with a resident and show the love of God through word and deed. Each evening, when your group returns to the lodging facility, there is some free time, dinner, and the evening gathering. Some groups opt for a fun party on Thursday night after the last day of work. Friday morning is departure time and a ride home with many memories and God-filled stories.
1. Go to www.imchange.org/mcw right now and watch the short video.
2. Fill out the inquiry form on the webpage to initiate the process of a life changing mission trip experience for your student ministry.
3. Receive a timely and friendly response from the IMchange staff.
4. Plan your mission trip with the IMchange team.
6. Do it again!
Love God-Love people,
Founder, IMchange LLC