Kaitlin DalPorto, BJU alumnus
During the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to travel on the Southeast Asia (SEA) mission team. This team was very unique in that we only carried a backpack to five different countries, during our six-week trip. It was an amazing experience! I learned so much, not only from the missionaries and church leaders, but also from the people that we ministered to.
You might be skeptical about going on mission trips because of the expense, I was too; but little by little money comes in. Churches who aren’t able to go may still be passionate about missions and would love to help send you! I’m sure you’ve heard stories about how God has provided money in amazing ways for mission team members. God will give what is needed to do what He has called you to do!
So why should you “give up” a summer to go on a short-term mission trip? Not only are we called to go, but going on a mission trip will also open your eyes to the world, the gospel, and the body of Christ in a way you never thought possible. Mission trips grow your understanding of culture and challenge your ability to share the gospel with those who surround you every day.
There are many reasons for going on a short-term mission trip. One of the main reasons is to learn what your role is, in missions. Missions, the Great Commission, is not an option. It is something that God has commanded us to do. It does not matter where you are, you should be working to further the gospel. It is important to know how to pray for, send/give, help, and encourage our brothers and sisters on or off the field. It’s difficult to effectively and sincerely do that without seeing the ministry first-hand.
One of my favorite memories from the SEA mission trip was talking with ladies from the church in Kachin State, Myanmar. While there, the mission team helped with the sessions at a pastor’s conference. We had been there for a few days before we were able to really connect with the people. Although there was a significant language barrier, we were still able to have special fellowship with these dear sisters in Christ!
Another highlight of the trip took place in Thailand, where we were able to be part of the Southeast Asia Missionary Kid Camp! Our team members were “counselors” for the week. I loved how the missionary kids enjoyed being together, learned about God, and had fun (regardless of what others thought). Being at this camp helped me to realize how often MK’s are overlooked, whether on the field or on deputation. Missionary kids have a major role in their parent’s ministry.
In Bangkok we got to help one of the churches with their English class outreach. There I realized the usefulness of teaching English as a tool to build relationships and share the gospel.
I think the most eye opening and convicting experience happened in Indonesia. The religion there is predominantly Muslim. One day we went to an island a couple hours away. We had to take several different water taxis and ferries and basically island hopped to get there. It was not an easy journey. Once there, we noticed that everything was closed and there seemed to be no one around. We were told that the island was 100% Muslim and today was a special holy day spent at the mosque. After the service time ended, we were able to talk to the man with whom our friend has been building a relationship with for several years. We only spent a couple hours there before our long trip back. To see the dedication and effort put into simply building a friendship, not even sharing the gospel yet, was so convicting. How much do I go out of my way on a daily basis to share the gospel?
One of the biggest things that God taught me was the unity that we have in Christ. I was able to see it all throughout the trip. There were countless times when we were with people who ate different food, wore different clothes, sang different songs, lived a different way, enjoyed and gave value to different things, and even spoke a different language. We had literally nothing in common it seemed. But you know what? We did. Christ. And we could worship and praise Him together! Attempt to share with one another what He has done for us! Pray for one another in our own tongues, because we serve an awesome God who can hear prayers in any and all languages. Our Creator made both me and the sweet older lady in the mountains of Myanmar to each play a specific role in the Body of Christ. To see and meet my brothers and sisters in Christ literally around the world is an experience like no other! Knowing that we serve the same God and will spend eternity together praising Him is an incredible thought.
One of the conversations we had with a missionary in Thailand opened my eyes to a valuable reality. The most critical part in missions, and really in life, is to have a gospel minded focus. Geography does not define missions. We have a single goal in life: to glorify God and share Him with those around us. While it will be carried out and implemented differently based on the place or situation, that doesn’t change what God has called us to do, nor does it make serving in your own neighborhood inferior in any way to that of one serving in the heart of Africa.
God used this trip in many ways. Yes, I was able to learn much about the world, different cultures, believers in various contexts, and a better understanding of the body of Christ. And that alone is incredible and life changing! But, through this trip, I met a family with whom I’m now serving on the field. It is a story I love to tell because God’s hand and leading in it are so clear.
My church in the US supports the Wagner family, currently serving in Myanmar as they help to translate the Bible. Every week we pray for a different supported missionary. Over Christmas break the Wagners were the missionary family of the week. Because I was with them the previous spring I decided to message them that we were praying for them. Several messages later they asked if I had plans for the fall because they needed someone to come and homeschool their three oldest kids. I was shocked but so excited about the possibility. My major was International Studies, so think history, politics, culture, language. I had never seen myself teaching nor did I learn anything about it in college. But I did have a desire to spend more time with a missionary to learn if God might have me serve in that way eventually. This was a perfect opportunity!
I have been in Myanmar since the end of August last year. Collectively, my time here will soon be almost exactly nine months. I have definitely done and seen some incredible things! No, it hasn’t been easy or the “glorious life abroad” that some might envision. I am just living my day to day life here. I go through the same (if not more) sin issues, struggles, and heartaches (albeit with less ice cream). I’ve had the joy of seeing the work and fruit of Bible translation here. I’ve visited villages, made friends with local people, and grown to love it here!
It all happened because I went on that SEA mission trip almost 2 years ago. This opportunity wouldn't have come up had I not been on that trip. Just because you go on one of these short term trips doesn’t mean you’re signing up to move across the world. God may call you to do that. But no matter what, through a trip like that you will be better able to serve the church and the body of Christ as a whole, all while accomplishing the great commission.
How are you working to carry out Matthew 28? What steps are you taking to “go”? If this is something that you have struggled to do, a short term trip is a perfect way to open your eyes to your role in God's mission around the world and in your own neighborhood.
Matt Wells, Assistant for Media
Just when you finally started to understand millennials, there’s a new generation rising up.
Some are calling them Generation Z.
We had Generation X (born from 1960-80, give or take). After them came Generation Y (1980-1995) – but that’s too mainstream, and so that generation became known as the “Millennials.” We’ve already written plenty about them and their role in missions. We want to end our series on “Millennials in Missions” this month by looking beyond to the next generation.
Do you remember 9/11? A day most of us could never forget if we tried. If you remembered 9/11 vividly, then you are a Millennial or older.
If you don’t really remember much of the details of that day, you are likely part of Generation Z, born from roughly 1996 until the current day. Instead of 9/11 being the pivotal moment of your young life, you are more likely to talk about the “Great Recession” of 2008 – the day your dad might have lost his job or your family started a very hard financial path that they have still not recovered from.
This generation is just beginning their college and adult years. And researchers and marketers are just starting to figure them out. Are they like millennials? Are they going to vote more conservative or liberal? Are they going to be as global as millennials or more “home-focused”?
Well, no one quite knows yet. Your best bet is to just get to know a Gen Z-er. Perhaps you have one living in your house or you work in a youth group full of them. I was born on the tail end of millennials and have many younger friends of the more Z-stripe, including the middle-schoolers I teach at church. Through these experiences and research, I have been trying to figure out my younger brothers and sisters in Christ.
How will God use this generation? I’ve seen how God is starting to use those of my generation to reach the 10-40 window, to plunge into nations that were traditionally closed to missionaries, to bring glory to Christ by the spreading of His name in very dark places. It’s been exciting to watch.
But when I’m older (and hopefully wiser) and observing the next generation engage in missions, will I be excited? Or disappointed?
Here’s a few very tentative observations about this new generation and how missions might continue with them:
1. They could be more home-focused.
Millennials are notoriously global, as the Internet grew up with us, connecting us to people all over the world via social media. It’s natural that we wanted to go visit the people and places we discovered on the Internet. This interest in foreign traveling has of course been helpful for missions (although time will tell if our global perspective keeps us on a hard field for the long haul).
But Gen Z grew up in the era of the Great Recession. Even if they desire to spend money, they had to go through their parents (likely Gen X) who are a lot more frugal and “safety-conscious.” They grew up in the heyday of “helicopter-parenting.” Go read your typical thirty-something mother’s blog, and you will find a great concern for safety. Gen Z has been raised to wear seat belts, sit in the right car seat, not drink out of BPA-filled water bottles, etc.
The question is – will this safety-trained generation be willing to get outside their comfort zones to share the good news in dangerous places? Perhaps a better question is – will their parents let them go? Only time will tell, but I am confident God will continue raising up missionaries to carry the Gospel to faraway lands.
But there is a reason many are calling this the “Homeland Generation.” In the post-9/11 world, perhaps this new generation will be more focused on the close-by than the far-away. Some would see this as a negative for missions, but it could also be a positive development, because…
2. They will grow up in the most diverse America.
Even if they are more home-focused, perhaps it won’t matter as much. Like no time in history, global is becoming local. And I’m not just talking about the Internet.
America is perhaps more diverse than ever. We are certainly becoming more ethnically diverse with the Hispanic and African-American populations increasing. This is great news for the cause of missions in our homeland, as Gen Z reaches out cross-culturally within their own city.
But at the same time, America is becoming more diverse ethically. Same-sex marriage is barely even questioned by the younger generations, and the transgender movement is gaining traction. Simultaneously, the tumultuous 2016 election cycle proved that America is still a country full of diverse opinions on any number of issues.
Gen Z will come of age in both a divided and diverse country.
What an opportunity for missions and evangelism! We will still need members of Gen Z to leave America for foreign fields where people have never heard of Jesus. But we also have a unique opportunity for Gen Z to step up here in the “homeland” and evangelize an increasingly un-Christian America.
3. They appear to be more individualistic.
One of the reasons demographers are having such a hard time nailing down this generation is because they are so individual. They refuse to be stereotyped.
And they refuse to be like millennials. It’s amazing – when I ask my church’s middle-schoolers if they have Facebook, I get blank looks. Gen Z has either fled Facebook or never gotten on at all. It’s too public. It’s too “old.” Same thing with Twitter. Then what platforms are they using? Well, YouTube and Snapchat and Instagram are all on the rise. Those forms of social media are much more individualistic. You don’t have as many followers and have the chance to send media directly to your close friends.
This is troubling for parents who want to keep their children out of the garbage that can be found on these social media sites. And it may also be troubling for missions. Individualism and self-reliance are great attributes in areas like economics and education, where hard work pays off. Indeed, Gen Z are “early-starters” and are interested in starting their own businesses to raise funds necessary for the increasingly-debt-ridden college experience.
But Christianity does not lend itself well to individualism. Christ saved us to place us in a community of believers for accountability and growth (Heb. 10:24-25). And relationships are necessary for spiritual growth and evangelism – relationships beyond an Instagram “follow.”
Still, time will have to tell whether this generation will be individualistic in a way that cuts off other relationships. Or if they will follow a path closer to millennials where their individualism may drive them to build fewer but deeper relationships. Perhaps all the shallow interaction online will drive them to seek out deeper relationships in-person – like the kind they can experience with Jesus and with His church.
In the interactions I’ve had with Gen Z, I am confident that the latter will be the case.
In a world that is changing as a new generation arises, let’s remind ourselves that nothing really changes for us as believers. The Great Commission is still before us – as Boomers, Xers, Millennials, or Generation Z.
We are still called to make disciples of every nation (Matt. 28:19). Christ is still firmly in control – He has the authority (vs. 18).
And who knows what generation will come after Gen Z moves on! We’re at the end of the alphabet – does that mean the end of the world? They’re going to have a hard time coming up with a new letter for the next generation!
Regardless of what happens or what name they’re given, we know one thing will not change – Christ will be with us, even to the end of an age.
 Some would disagree with me on this. See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-beall/8-key-differences-between_b_12814200.html
I’m a millennial. I was born in the 80’s, grew up in the 90’s, and saw the original Toy Story in the theaters (like 516 times—everybody had a Toy Story birthday that year). I watched 9/11 news footage live, and felt the great recession hit during my junior year of college. I’m on the older end of the millennial generation at age 28, but I try to stay in touch. I want to see fellow millennials fully-engaged in Christ’s mission for His church.
As you can imagine, Satan is not big on the idea of our generation of believers taking missions seriously. In fact, I’m sure he is dead-set on sapping us of drive, strength, and vision for the work that God has called us to. Here are some missions-zeal-killers that we need to viciously uproot and destroy in our lives if we are going to live for Christ's mission:
1.Thinking We Are Something New.
“There is nothing new under the sun.” What does that mean for a discussion of millennials in missions? First, it means we millennials are not substantially different from other generations. We may differ from them in many social, intellectual, and interpersonal ways, but at the end of the day, we are essentially similar. Differences are primarily cosmetic. Solomon said it first, and others have echoed the point more recently. The more we see ourselves as exceptions to the rule, the more we isolate ourselves. Paul spoke into this when he said, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13). Application: there are no unique “millennial temptations.” We struggle with the same flesh that every generation before has battled.
Having said that, we do face common temptations in new ways. For example, we especially struggle with…
2.Loving Our Lives
We are the “Life is Good®” generation. Literally. You’ve seen the shirts: “Happiness consists in sunshine, bare feet, and bacon” and all that. I love all three, and we all know we’re just kidding, right? Right? The danger is that, in saying such things, we might actually come to believe them—even just a little bit. The problem for missions is that such thinking destroys self-denying zeal for Jesus’ mission.
Nothing will kill the missions-usefulness of the millennial generation faster than clutching our lives. Life is something you can’t hold onto. It flies away. Poof. Done. Over. And if you live with it clutched in your hand, you actually lose it in the end. Jesus said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). Jim Elliot understood this when he penned his most famous words, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
There is plenty of stuff out there to scare us away from giving our lives for the mission Jesus gave us. You want to go to Europe? Terrorist bombings. Asia? Political instability. The Middle East? ISIS. South America? Zika. The neighborhood down the street? Gangs. I could go on.
Here’s the bottom line: living your life for Jesus’ mission will cost you. And as long as we love our lives, we are going to struggle to hand them over—piece by piece—to the Lord.
3.Spurning the Wisdom of the Past
One of my professors from seminary likes to talk about the “Whig fallacy”—the misguided tendency we all have to assume that we are the pinnacles of enlightenment. We all tend to think we’re right about most things. Interestingly, when we grow up around a view, we become expert critics of it, and often begin to look down our noses at those who hold it.
But here’s the problem: We can’t do missions on our own. God didn’t make the church to be one generation deep; He made it to be a like an ancient tree, with deep, old roots and an aged trunk holding new shoots up to the sky. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants. Some of those giants are figures from Church history, while others are our own pastors and parents. We owe them more than we know.
Usually, this generational arrogance cures itself somewhat as we age. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Let’s avoid this error.
What is entangling you? Here are a few things I have seen entangle my own soul or the souls of others I know and love:
5.Giving Up Too Soon
“In due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal 6:9). I think this will be a key verse for millennial missionaries in the coming years. We’re young and idealistic, just like every other generation before us. Each of us will have “Elijah moments” where we realize, “I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4). When that happens, we will need to pause, remember 2,000 years of missionaries who have gone before, believe His promises, set our hand back to the plow, and soldier on. The most Ritalin-dependent generation will need to become the most grace-dependent generation if we are to endure until the harvest.
Reaching the unreached peoples of the world, translating the Scriptures into every tongue, and training the global church are attainable goals for the millennial generation with God’s help. But we will need to take care that we guard ourselves and keep our hearts hot for the Lord and for His work.
May He receive the glory due Him—through our generation.
 The origin of this quote is debated, but it makes the point. See http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/10/10/twain-father/
 The song “O Zion, Haste,” by Mary A. Thomson, has encouraged many mothers with this stanza:
Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious;
Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way;
Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious;
And all thou spendest, Jesus will repay!
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.