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A Mission Trip a Year Keeps the Spiritual Chill Away! by Grant Edwards

1 May 2012 No Comment

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.  This could be true but I know what has revitalized my spiritual life more than anything else—going on a mission’s trip at least once a year since 1992.

This year I celebrate my 40th anniversary as a Pastor at Fellowship Christian Church. And, not only have I been a pastor for 40 years, but I have been a pastor at the same church for those 40 years.  Many have asked, “How do you survive in one place as a pastor for 40 years?”  The answer that I give, “I started going on short-term mission’s trips 20 years ago.”

Let me explain.  When I reached my 20th anniversary at Fellowship, I was beginning to feel fatigue.  Twenty years of preaching to the same people and the same people listening to me for twenty years equals fatigue all around.  It is hard stay fresh doing the same thing at the same place year after year.  When I began going on short-term mission trips, my attitude and perspective changed. I felt that I had something more to preach at Fellowship; about a church that had local, national, and international mission.

The short-term mission trips began in 1992 when Barbara and I visited Rick and Heather Ives in St. Petersburg, Russia.  I went to Russia in obedience.  Rick and Heather were sent as missionaries from Christ’s Church Fellowship, a small alliance of churches.  I was a member of this organization and believed that Rick and Heather needed personal support.  Upon entering Russia, I remember Rick giving the introduction to our trip by saying, “Eat when you can, drink water when you can, go to the bathroom when you can because food, water, and restrooms are hard to find.”  Since Rick is now a staff pastor at Fellowship, I’ve worked with him to improve his initial orientation speech for short-timers!

Since 1992, I’ve visited Russia at least 35 times.  I’ve been there winter (very cold), summer (it doesn’t get dark), spring, and fall.  There have been the lost saved, pastors trained, churches started and leaders mentored.  The work that now exists is amazing – dozens of churches, thousands of Christians, orphanages, prison ministries, rehab houses, and leadership training.  Money and time well spent on my part!

But it isn’t what I’ve done; it is about what I’ve gained—an invigorated ministry, an enduring freshness, and a church in Springfield that has benefited from my international experiences.  A mission trip a year, or even two or three mission trips a year, keeps the lethargy and tendency to become stale in check.  The ability to get out of town and preach about Jesus and discipleship has been the key to my desire and ability to remain as Pastor of Fellowship Christian Church for 40 years.

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