There are all kinds of good ways to spend your summer. You can seek rest and escape from normal life through vacations, you can work to save money, or choose to attend summer sport camps. These can be good summer options, but are they the best options?
In contemplating the difference of good versus great, I think of 1 Timothy 4:8: “For bodily exercise profits a little but godliness is profitable for all things having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” The good is often limited to temporal and personal, while the great has an eternal element and a focus on others. Think about how great your summer could be by investing in others through summer missions. You would be challenged to grow spiritually by stepping out of your comfort zone through opportunities to meet and care for people and share the gospel of Christ in a different culture.
Looking back on my personal life, after raising three children and spending 20 years in youth ministry, I believe summer missions are a great investment with potential for eternal returns. Summer mission trips were instrumental in our family’s spiritual growth. It was hard, as a father, to watch my 16-year-old daughter fly to France for the summer to serve with Word of Life, but it built my faith to let her go, and it was instrumental in her spiritual maturity. As a youth pastor, I encouraged multiple teens every year to serve on summer missions teams. Summer missions helped build their faith and form their biblical worldview, all while they invested in the lives of others. Summer missions were the catalyst for many to come home and live out their faith more intentionally, which resulted in many deciding to serve in full-time ministry. Even the ones that did not go into full-time ministry still developed a passion to support missions and share the gospel.
I would like to share three reasons why you should encourage summer missions for young people.
1. Time is of the Essence
First, there is no better timing than now. The teen years through the early 20s are probably the least restrictive time of a young person’s life. Most are not strapped to a mortgage, debt, and the responsibility of providing for a family.
2. Developing Trust in God for Finances
Second, although many have more freedom, there is still a cost to summer missions. This is intimidating to many families. Most of the time, a young person or their parents just can’t see how they can afford the cost. This is because they are limiting their reasoning by their personal resources. When you refocus and realize it is truly the Lord that provides, and that we are just called to be faithful, much of the financial pressure is eliminated.
We had one young lady in our ministry that wanted to serve but was extremely worried about the financial cost. This young lady finally stepped out in faith and committed to a 10-day summer mission to the Navajo people, and she witnessed the body of Christ supporting her like she never imagined. The next summer, she stepped out in faith and committed to spending the summer in France serving with Word of Life. This young lady is now in her mid-20s, has an undergraduate degree in Spanish, French and global business communication, and has served the Lord in multiple locations abroad.
3. Fulfilling the Great Commission
Third, biblical principle — Jesus Christ set the example of short-term missions with His disciples in Matthew 10 and Mark 6 when he sent out the disciples in pairs. Then in Luke 10, Christ sent out 72 other disciples in pairs. We also see Paul bring young men along with him on his missionary journeys (John Mark, Timothy, and Titus).
I strongly recommend, as both a parent and youth leader, that we encourage and challenge the younger generations to take a summer to invest in what is great! Word of Life has an excellent summer missions opportunity called Student Fusion. In the summer of 2022, Student Fusion opportunities include serving through trips to the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, Portugal, and Belize. Let’s make our summer count for eternity!
You can learn more about these opportunities at https://missions.wol.org/go/student-missions/.
Wayne Price has been the Word of Life LCM Area Missionary in the Alabama region for the past four years. Previously, he served 17 years as a youth pastor, sending students every year to serve on summer missions teams, and has led summer missions efforts to the Navajo Nation since 2004. He and his wife Kim have three children and two grandchildren.