Over the years of working in international missions, I’ve had a chance to meet so many incredible people who want to make a difference in the world. They often tell me how blessed and grateful they are to live in the U.S., and so, as a result, they want to join a mission trip hoping to spread God’s blessings. After raising their money and going to serve, they come home expressing they received so much more than what they feel they gave.
But I also have found that they emerge from the life-changing missions experience with something else: a measure of despair.
After spending a week or so in poor communities, they are rocked by what they’ve seen and experienced. I believe this happens because it's hard to see so much poverty and need, but not know how to respond effectively. It almost feels like your efforts aren't really making a difference in the grand scheme of things. For me personally, what is super hard is talking with friends that don't even seem to care. I find myself getting frustrated with them and having a hard time connecting. In the worst cases, my frustration might develop into some anger.
If this is something you have experienced, I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone in how you are feeling. Also, it's okay that you are fired up! We desperately need more people like you that actually care and are willing to do something. The important thing for you is to figure out how to channel your passion. None of us can solve all of the world's problems. That's for God to take care of in his timing. However, God uses each one of us to be a part of the solution.
A lot of people fall into the trap of just jumping on the bandwagon with whatever the next big issue is in the media. They bounce from one topic to the next and post their discontentment for all the world to read. It's good to be a voice for good in the world, but ultimately we need people that decide to focus and pick who they are going to serve.
When distress and despair begin to move you in ways that are difficult to handle and aren’t very constructive, try these 3 steps.
1. Stop and Resettle
Emerging from new and powerful experiences that have rocked our worlds in valuable yet chaotic ways, it’s of utmost importance to find your focus. The first step is to carve out some time of quiet contemplation, away from family and friends. Spend that time in prayer and ask what God is stirring in your heart. Time away could be as little as ten minutes a day for a week or so, or even a day’s retreat. Find whatever will work with your life responsibilities, but make it a priority.
2. Ask Deep Questions
During these dedicated times away from distraction, begin to look deeper into your recent experience and what it has awakened in you. What moves you deeply? Where do you want to personally make an impact?
3. Engage with Purpose & Commitment
Now that your focus has been restored and the burdens of your heart have been matched with the change you want to be a part of, dedicate some real-time and resources toward your focus to truly make a difference.
Has God called you to serve in a particular ministry? Is there a part of the world that he has put on your heart? My encouragement is to figure out where God wants you to serve and focus 100%.
We are thankful to be serving along side you and would love to continue doing so in whatever it is that God has put on your heart. Click below to learn all about our serving trips and how to make an impact!