Hey Youth Pastor, Remember Your First Trip?

by Nick Cocalis, Co-Founder and Missions Director

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

– Revelation 2:2-4

I remember my first mission trip, do you?

I went with my high school youth group to Alabama for a week of construction in a low-income neighborhood. My Youth Pastor promised me fun, all-nighters, and a chance to play in the worship band. About the best offer a high school freshman can get.

I remember the anticipation I had the night before the trip as I tried to fall asleep. I remember the anxiousness of finding the perfect seat on the 55-passenger coach bus that would seal my fate for the next 22 hours. I remember gazing out that bus widow as we rolled into town, and for the first time questioning poverty. I remember how full my heart was when I met Mary, the single mom, who’s home I got to share for a week. I remember the pride I took in my ‘expert’ carpentry as we remodeled the bathroom. I remember the ‘big stage lights’ as I played the drums and for the first time felt I was doing something for the Lord. And of course, I remember that Thursday night, when I walked down the isle of the church to pray with my pastor.

Since that week, 17 years ago, I have been on over 100 mission trips.   I have met countless families, arrived in dozens of new towns, and witnessed thousands of students share the same experience as I did taking that life-changing walk down the isle. And I have to admit, over the years, some trips have come and gone without much thought. Sometimes I fall into the routine of missions. Sometimes I am more concerned about keeping track of a student inhaler than I am about the Divine encounter that Christ is desperately trying to have with me.

So this is a note to the Youth Pastor that has led 100 trips. Or maybe just five. Remember your first love. Remember why God calls us to escape from our day-to-day and enter a world that He is vibrantly active in. Remember that a mission trip isn’t an assumption, it is a Holy privilege. And make your 2016 mission trip feel like your first.

Next Step Ministries