Go on a mission trip when you have a reason to go on a mission trip. That seems like a pretty basic answer. What do I mean by that? Mostly, I mean DO NOT go on a mission trip for the wrong reasons. What are the wrong reasons, you ask? All of the self-centered ones. Here is a brief, yet quite specific list.
Don’t go on a mission trip because you’re bored and have what this generation has affectionately dubbed as wanderlust. Don’t go on a mission trip because it would be a socially acceptable reason in our Christian culture for you to ask for money to go see someplace you’ve always wanted to see. Don’t go on a mission trip because you need to check off that box on the “authentic Christian to-do list.” Do not go on a mission trip to BE anyone’s savior, with the mindset you have the answers to improve the lives of the local people. Don’t go on a mission trip if you aren’t ready to sacrifice all of your comforts, wants, and quite possibly many of your needs for the sake of the Gospel.
So when IS the right time to go on a mission trip? Go on a mission trip when it would be a step of obedience in your relationship with your creator. Go on a mission trip when you would feel like you missed out if you spent time being a tourist that you could have instead been engaging in a meaningful way with the locals. Go on a vision/scouting trip if God has placed within you a holy discontent, and you know He has something major up ahead but needs you to start walking before He reveals what it is. Go on a mission trip because your life and future are wholly surrendered to God and serving Him anywhere, and in that, you really have no reason to not go until the Lord closes that door to you.
Go on a mission trip when it isn’t about you. Go expecting to encounter the Lord in beautiful and miraculous new ways; expecting Him to speak to you, teach you new truths, and make old ones come to life anew; expecting Him to draw you nearer to Himself. Hold this excited anticipation of what is in store for your own relationship in tension with an understanding of what happens if you make the trip about yourself. If you only have eyes for your own aspirations, wants, desires, and plans, not only will you rob yourself of the chance to walk with God in the abundant life He is preparing for you, but you will also miss out on the mission of being an ambassador of Christ to those around you. Everyone will suffer for it, and you will have to one day answer for it to the only judge of eternal consequence.
Mission trips are such amazing opportunities for so many reasons. We are able to be humbled as our perspective of creation and of God’s people is shattered and put back together the way He wants for it to be. We’re able to hold such greater awe of the Lord when we see how, despite the vast differences in culture and life events, God’s truths are still present and experienced all across the globe. Hopefully, with the right heart, mission trips are a beautiful way to experience the breadth of the Body and give God glory for the way His sovereignty is displayed in bringing such diverse people together harmoniously to further His Kingdom. My intention is not to discourage those who are ready from going on a mission trip – because these trips can be invaluable. I do hope, though, after reading this you’ll pause to pray. All of that being said… The right time to go on a mission trip is simply when the Lord is telling you to go.