On a bus in Bangkok
In the wake of the Tsunami that devastated South East Asia around Christmas of 2004, in an effort to help with relief efforts, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) decided to send a team of 100 students from across the country to partner with the Thailand Cru ministry. I had the privilege of representing North Dakota State on that team, and it forever changed my life. It was the first time I had ever left the country (other than going to Canada). It was the first time I had been on a plane, other than a flight to Florida at the age of five which I cannot remember. I had to get a passport. I had to get a new suitcase. I had to raise money for travel expenses and to help fund the relief effort. I grew up in a small town in central Minnesota and went to a medium sized university in North Dakota. My general experience had been largely mono-cultural. Through this trip my eyes were opened to the world.
I got to experience a new culture. I got to spend time in non-western cities. I got to interact with people who had a completely different worldview and experience than me. It was life changing. Following that trip, I traveled overseas for various types of missions trips multiple times before graduating college (I have been to the capital city of four different countries, but never my own), and spent many years seriously considering and praying about long-term missions. The burden God placed on my heart for the world has not changed, and I think it is important for all Christians to be aware of the state of global missions.
Sitting on a bus in Bangkok, a student from Iowa leaned over to me and asked me if I had ever taken the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course. I had not, and he recommended that I should, so when I got back to the states I emailed the directors of the Cru ministry at NDSU, suggesting that we look into bringing the Perspectives course to Fargo. Incredibly, one of their roommates was actually in the process of helping to plan a new session of the course for the next fall. It was clear to me that God was calling me to take the course, so I did, and I got some of my friends to take it with me. The Perspectives course is a 15-week course, with 15 different instructors and some fantastic reading materials that takes a student through the Biblical, historical, cultural and strategic perspectives on missions. If you have not taken the course, then try to find one in your city. Here is a link. Be careful though, taking this course may change your life.
These are just a few of the experiences that have shaped my heart for missions. There are a lot of great resources and opportunities to grow in your own experience and understanding of God's heart for missions.
Watch one of these videos
Do you want to expand your understanding of missions? I recently came across some great resources that you might enjoy. Here are three videos that are each about 3-6 minutes. Each of them provides information we should all be aware of about missions
The Biblical Basis for Missions
The first one is about the Biblical Basis for Missions. It is the longest of the three, and it traces God's heart for missions throughout the entire arc of the Biblical narrative. It is a great video to watch:
The Task Remaining
This video helps to describe the task remaining. It is a sobering picture of where most of our resources go with regard to missions. It is worth watching. How does this change the way that you engage with missions?
Defining Unreached People Groups
You may hear the term Unreached People Groups thrown around from time to time. This will help give you a better understanding of what people mean when they use that phrase.