“Imagine a team from France calls your church and says they want to visit. They want to put on a VBS (which you have done for years), but the material is in French. They have heard about how the U.S. church has struggled and want to help you fix it. They want to send twenty people, half of them youth. Only two of them speak English. They need a place to stay for free, with cheap food and warm showers if possible. During the trip, half of the group’s energy will be spent on resolving tension between team members. Two people will get sick. They’d like you to arrange some sightseeing for them on their free day. Do you want them to come?”1
This isn’t said to discourage you but to let you know that great teams don’t happen by accident. Great teams happen because they are spiritually prepped, educated on effective missions’ strategies, and culturally competent. AIM has had great teams come that help move forward what God is doing. AIM has also had teams that come and hinder and damage what God is doing. This will be a tough, no-nonsense, 30-day devotional because we desire for teams to be thoroughly prepared to serve in Cambodia, and we want to limit the possibility that a team could hurt God’s efforts to rescue and transform the abused. Take this devotional seriously and allow the Holy Spirit to change you over the next 30 days.
As you begin, consider the following question: Are you embarking on a mission or a pilgrimage? A pilgrimage may be defined as a journey that you undertake as a quest for some religious purpose, whereas a mission is the work or calling of a team to fulfill some purpose on behalf of or with another group of people. The key feature of a pilgrimage is that it is focused on your own spiritual growth while a mission is focused on the fulfillment of a calling on behalf of others. There is a time and place for pilgrimage – this is not to say that it is wrong to seek your own spiritual growth – however, this trip must be about mission lest you hinder the work that God is doing in the lives of the Cambodians you will encounter. Are you embarking on a journey that will fulfill your own spiritual needs or on a mission – to serve others and to glorify God?
We are preparing you for a mission, and if you are signed up for a pilgrimage, this trip is not for you.
1 Anecdote from Darren Carlson, “Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips,” The Gospel Coalition (2012), http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/06/18/why-you-should-consider-cancelling-your-short-term-mission-trips/ (accessed February 4, 2013).