With one week left until departure, preparations are at a frantic level. A new list seems to generate every hour; a list for clothes, a list for toiletries and medicine, a list for what goes in the backpacks, a list for what can’t go in the backpacks, a list for arranging finances, and another for paperwork. There are certainly many things that need to be checked and double checked, but as Emma and I prepare for our trip to Southeast Asia, I’m aware of a gnawing feeling that maybe the most important lists are the ones that will prepare us spiritually. It has been a while since I have been out of the country on a mission trip, so I thought I would sit down and make a list of things I need to prepare myself (and my daughter) to look for as we travel to three different cultures and meet six different missionaries. Here is my observation list.

Spiritual things to look for:

  • How God is faithful to bless his Word in a particular ministry.
  • How sufficient the Word of God is for every problem in every culture.
  • How different missionaries are in their skills and personalities.
  • How similar missionaries are in their passion and calling.
  • How creative missionaries are in accomplishing the great commission.
  • How resourceful missionaries are with what God has supplied.
  • How finances affect ministry but don’t limit the Holy Spirit.
  • How powerful the testimony of a single conversion can be.
  • How fervent first generation believers are to reach their own people.
  • How vibrant a church is when disciples are equipped.
  • How difficult ministry is when you are isolated or discouraged.
  • How important the long view of ministry is for perseverance.

Just making this list I am reminded how blurry my spiritual eyes can get. I know there are many other things the Spirit will reveal to me. I am sure our observation skills will be tested in each new city and with every new experience. Pray that our eyes will be sharp, our minds will be keen, our words will be few, our hearts will be touched, our passion will be ignited, and most importantly, our lives will be transformed so that we are better able to serve and glorify God in the ministry He has given us.