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Strengthening Faith: How Missions Shape Beliefs

In a world that changes as swiftly and unpredictably as the sea, one thing remains to keep us on a steadfast course: faith. But our faith in Christ isn’t static. It grows and is strengthened through practicing our trust in Him amid experiences that challenge us, transform us, and offer us opportunities to step into the work of His Kingdom. One such transformative experience is engaging in missions.

Missions, both locally and internationally, are powerful vehicles for shaping and strengthening faith. They require us to step outside of our comfort zone, to place ourselves in intentional dependence on the Holy Spirit’s leading and provision, and stretch our capacity to love and serve others as the hands and feet of Jesus beyond what we thought possible.

One way missions strengthen our faith is through firsthand encounters with different cultures, beliefs, and ways of life. Stepping into unfamiliar territories brings us into contact with new perspectives. Some that offer a different expression of walking with Christ, and some that altogether clash with it. As you interact with people from diverse backgrounds in the course of sharing Christ’s love, you’ll be compelled to reflect on your own beliefs, to dig deeper into scripture, and to not only ask God questions you may never have asked before, but also to listen for and receive His answers in ways that will likely surprise you. All in all, these experiences of grappling with questions and listening to His voice lead to a deeper understanding of our faith and of His character.

Missions don’t just bring growth through internal wrestling with tough questions. They also offer opportunities to grow by truly living out our faith and putting it into action. They offer a chance to accept the same invitation that Jesus extended to His disciples – to come and walk with Him, from community to community, bringing healing, freedom, service, and the truth of the Gospel to those to whom God leads us along the way. This work also helps us to bridge the gap in understanding between evangelism and practical service. By engaging in both, we learn to serve and to love the whole person, just as Jesus did. The more we walk out in that kind of ministry, the more fully we join the work of spreading His Kingdom. And as we walk with Christ in serving others, no matter how challenging the experience may be, we find that those who pour themselves out in service are in turn strengthened in their faith and refreshed in their hearts.

Serving in the field can be a powerful catalyst for developing greater trust and intimacy with God. The field brings us into all manner of situations where we can learn to make the choice between leaning on our own limited understanding and often limited resources or seeking God’s provision for the moment. Whether it’s navigating cultural or language barriers, persevering through challenging travel days, or trying to find the right words or the right action to comfort someone in need, you’ll often find that relying on God in those situations leads to a powerful experience of His love and presence. What’s more, those experiences cultivate fruit in our hearts that we carry with us through life – resilience, perseverance, and a deeper sense of reliance on God’s provision for both our natural and spiritual needs.

All of these experiences, and the different ways they help us to grown spiritually, equip us for the greatest work of all – sharing our faith! The mission field teaches us that sharing our faith isn’t something that’s done only on testimony night in our church small groups, but something we do daily by word, by deed, and by becoming a living testimony! Missions offer us a unique chance to bear witness to the transformative power of our faith.

Ultimately, missions not only transform the lives of those to whom we minister, but also the lives of those who step out in ministry. By choosing to step into the unfamiliar, where the need for spiritual freedom and Christ’s truth is more pronounced than we often perceive in our home settings, we can learn to recognize God’s invitation to join the work of His Kingdom wherever we are. And we can experience firsthand the truth that as we walk by the spirit and lead others to intimacy with Christ, so too are we led into a greater experience of the Father’s heart.