Why Mission Teams MatterBrian Heasley - 24 Oct 2015
More than ever before within the 24-7 Prayer movement, we’re seeing communities that are seeking to be light in the darkness; establishing the kingdom in difficult, dry, and sometimes dangerous situations.
We’ve established mission teams as a way to enhance this work, but often, many people don’t understand their purpose. I’m sometimes asked if mission teams are worthwhile and I definitely think they are, for a few reasons…
Movements only remain that way if they move!
As a movement, our heart has always been to see people move: out of their comfort zones; into a greater fullness of all that the Lord has for them; to places where we can make a difference in the lives of the poor and the lost. There’s something prophetic about movement that often begins with small steps. A number of years ago at one of our 24-7 gatherings, a young lady came up to me at the end of a talk on Ibiza and said she wanted to get involved. She came on a mission team for two weeks before coming again for longer the following year. At some point on that journey, God touched her heart and that of her boyfriend, later to be husband, to the point where they both moved to Ibiza in 2012 to run the work of 24-7 Prayer. It began with a mission team and ended with a life changing decision.
Large fires tend to start with small sparks.
When people go on mission teams God works in them. He ignites and challenges them, and brings about changes in them. One girl who went on our mission team to Lebanon found that God did some marvellous things in her life, dealing with fears, giving her new confidence, and inspiring her to do more upon her return. Others have returned and become involved in local initiatives, stirred to move elsewhere or radically changed priorities for how they lived.
Mission teams are not Christian tourism.
Our teams are not just about having a look and taking some photos. We send teams to serve on the ground, either to build on existing relationships or to pioneer new outreach in places God leads us to. Our mission teams are all about encouraging the local and blessing the indigenous. If they stop doing that, we’ll stop sending them. Sending people to pray and serve has always been the way of 24-7 Prayer. It blesses people in tough situations and can often move a ministry onto a greater level of effectiveness.
It’s not just about what you get out of a team.
Being part of a team means that we need to have a serving heart and that means that we need to sacrifice our personal motivation. If you decide to serve and help others on a mission team with enthusiasm, you will almost certainly gain from it. But this fulfilment should not be our primary motive. Our primary motive is service but what we often experience is that God, in His grace, does great things in our own lives too. A community will also benefit from serving another community, so sending a team from our own communities to somewhere else in the world will help counter insularity, lift our eyes beyond the local and remind us that we are part of the bigger global church.
There is sacrifice in going and there is sacrifice in receiving.
It takes a lot of work to host a mission team. Team members come with most other things in their life on hold; they are focused on serving in the country they have arrived in. For hosts it’s a different story; normal life has to be juggled with welcoming and caring for a team. It is a sacrifice to devote time overseas but also a sacrifice to host others too.
Mission teams are the prophetic heart of who we are.
As long as there are people willing to go and serve across the world, we will run mission teams. We want to give people the opportunity to be part of our movement; to experience life on the edge and to feel the sparks of radical living ignited in them. We believe in service and sacrifice. A mission team experience might start with a two-week team, but could end up as a lifetime commitment to live differently or sacrifice more than you ever intended. One of the co-leaders of 24-7 Ibiza says this:
“Mission teams are such a great way to capture the heart and vision of God for different places around the world. Encountering this on a mission team in Ibiza was the inspiration and eventual catalyst for our permanent relocation.”
Charlie Clayton - co-leader, 24-7 Ibiza
What you learn will be invaluable, what you do will make a difference and what you start may lead to a lifetime of adventure.
So, what are you waiting for?