I can speak from experience, as I have gone on 3 short-term mission trips. I have been the one mailing those letters out seeking support. In 2001, I went on my first mission trip to El Salvador. This was an impromptu trip in response to an earthquake that had ravished the country. Then in 2005 and 2006 I had the opportunity to lead teams to Jamaica. Now before you start thinking that it must have been nice going to Jamaica, we were in some of the roughest, dangerous places I ever care to step foot in.
What is the purpose of Missions? Matthew 28:19 says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Many interpret this to mean that we have to sell all that we have and hit the foreign mission field. If that is what God is calling you to do, then I am all for it. I say, "Go with Godspeed." However, others feel like we are to take times in our life and go on short-term mission trips. These usually are 7-10 days, and don't require much sacrifice on our end. I am also very much in support of these trips, but be prepared for it to change your life, rather than evangelizing the whole nation.
I would like to bring to attention another type of Mission Work that we so often neglect, that is Domestic Missions. That is being a missionary right here in your back yard. So many times we think that the only way we can be used in ministry is if we are on staff at a local church, or on the foreigh mission field. The truth is that we should all be in Missions. If everybody was a missionary in their own Sphere of Influence, then the argument could be made that we wouldn't even need foreign missionaries.
What can you do to be involved in Missions? Who are your "Outsiders." Think about it. Who or What group of people do you not socialize or fellowship with. It could be your neighbors, somebody from an opposite race, or how about other "attenders" at the church down the road? Whatever it might be, it is not as complicated as it might seem. If the Great Commission instructs us to go out and make Disciples of Christ, then the question arises, Are We Doing This? As for me and my family, we are going to look for opportunities to be local missionaries to "Outsiders" as much as we can. Will you join us...