Packing for Central Asia

9 05 2012

I’m leaving for a country in Central Asia for a 10-day short-term mission trip in just over a week. Right now my office is full of Walmart bags filled with all kinds of things that we are supposed to take with us. Every time I go on a mission trip, I always ask the missionaries what I can bring them. It is usually one of the first things that I ask, because I remember what it was like when we lived in Tanzania. We had our standard list of things for people to bring to us: Peter Pan Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter, beef jerky, Velveeta, taco seasoning packets, ranch seasoning packets, toys and such for the kids, etc. For the last month I have had a steady stream of people bringing full bags of stuff into my office for us to pack up and take with us. I’m looking at this pile wondering how I’m going to get it all in, but you had better bet that I will!

One of the number one reasons why missionaries leave the field is because of burn-out. It is just downright hard to live in some places. In this country in Central Asia, they are very isolated from other believers and anyone who speaks English. The food is different. The culture is different. There’s no reliable electricity. It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer with no central heating and air. There is seen little to no spiritual fruit. It is just plain hard. One of my number one goals as a mission pastor is to mobilize our church to be an encouragement to our missionaries whom we have partnerships with. I believe that we increase the work that is done for the gospel if we prolong the service of our missionaries on the field.

I absolutely love showing up on the mission field and seeing our missionary family’s faces light up when we start taking stuff out of the bag. I feel like Santa Claus giving out the toys to all the kids. But, you know, it is not about the stuff. It is really about them knowing that someone cares about them.

I want to encourage you to do all you can to encourage our missionary families. We get so busy with our own lives that we tend to forget about them sacrificing and serving in difficult places. Get to know them personally. Pray for them by name. Send them birthday cards. Go on a short-term mission trip simply to spend time with them and love on them. I promise you that this is the type of thing that God calls gold, silver, and costly stones.


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