I know you have felt it at times: That nudging in your heart to go on a discipleship trip. Maybe it came here at Watermark, or maybe you have found other opportunities to minister internationally.
Yep, it can sound really fun. You know you could get super excited to tell others about the "sacrifice" you are going to make to share the good news of Jesus. Perhaps your friends or family are thinking about jumping in, too. Maybe these sorts of trips have even become a "tradition."
But before you go, I want to offer some things to consider. I've had the awesome chance to help hundreds of Watermark people take discipleship trips. So whether you're thinking about one of our trips or have other opportunities to impact overseas, here are a few things you'll want to be sure you "pack."
Is it the Lord leading me to go, or is this a great excuse for a vacation? Pray before you decide to submit an application to join a trip. If it is something that is “calling your name” because your friends are going or it simply sounds "exciting," it’s probably not the right time to go.
I would challenge you to commit your plans to the Lord. Pray and ask Him if this is really something He wants you to do, or if it's your own desire. Has he burdened your heart to go and serve others as He calls us to do in Mark 10:43-45?
As you go on these trips, you will find out that, yes, the folks you meet and interact with have less material things than you. But they are oftentimes richer in joy and more content than you can even imagine. So you never want to go with the idea you're "saving those less fortunate than me."
Secondly, process your thoughts with your community, your mentor, and others who speak truth into your life. Do they feel this is the best time and opportunity for you to go? Are you in a place spiritually where you can truly give of yourself in a way that the Lord can do mighty things though you? Or are you “struggling” in an area that you need to surrender to Him, before you are capable to give as needed for one of these trips?
Your community group should be in complete agreement with the opportunity of your discipleship trip - to the point they would commit to support you in prayer and even financially.
Thirdly, there are administrative needs that you will have to help with. There's a lot involved in going overseas.
For instance, you will need to have a current passport that is valid 6 months from your return date. You'll have waivers and forms to fill out. You need to get the information returned to your trip planners as soon as requested. You'll need to be sure to read any preparation guides you are given - they've been prepared on purpose, not as "busywork." You will need to send letters or emails requesting people to pray for your trip and if they are so led, to give towards your trip costs.
From our vantage point in preparing for Watermark trips, we know who is and isn't reading their preparation materials! It’s really obvious when we get so many questions that are clearly answered in the participant guides.
Lastly, be on the alert. Know Satan will be spending many of his efforts looking for ways to create doubt, frustrations, confusion, and ways to help you stumble. This is true always, but it's amazing how often it seems to come when we're preparing for a discipleship trip.
You must have time to withdraw and spend time with the Lord. You will need to know it is only by His strength that you will be available to be used by Him mentally, physically, and - most importantly - spiritually. He is our source of strength. Stay humble, and know that it is really a thing of awe that He chooses to use you or me to do His glorious work.
That's true either here in Dallas or around the world. Every day our journey is a discipleship trip - either in your office, in Haiti, or in other parts of the world.
To learn more about External Focus visit watermark.org/blog/external-focus for our weekly blog!