What did we learn? Better said, what did God teach us through our time in Vancouver?
- Canadian culture is different than American Culture—Just because someone is Caucasian and speaks English does not mean that they adhere to the same patterns of behavior that prevail in America. While Canadians are very open to discussing spiritual topics, they are very closed to having Jesus “marketed” to them. Our host church did a great job of repeatedly reminding us of the need to contextualize the gospel in a way that would connect well with Canadians.
- Canadians hate America—Though we saw it in their advertising and in their media, this truth was most evident in the drama performed after the church service Sunday night which included humor based on criticisms of America. While they do not like America in general, Canadians do like individual Americans. Everyone we encountered was very friendly to us.
- Conflict can be mutually beneficial—Are you looking to find a recipe for short term mission trip disaster? Bring a team of intentional, confrontational evangelists to work with a church of passive, relational evangelists. That was our exact scenario in Vancouver. Though there was some conflict in evangelism strategy, both sides were gracious in the way they handled the situation. The result? They were encouraged to be more active in sharing their faith, and we were encouraged to be more culturally considerate in how we shared our faith.
- Mission trips build unity—Serving side by side is one of the best vehicles through which people’s heart are knit together in love (Colossians 2:2). Our team bonded in such a way that it made our service more effective on the field and will benefit the church now that we are back.
- Mission trips bring refinement—It is difficult to hide sin and opinions when you spend a week with a group. So, a trip allows you to get to know who people truly are. Getting beyond the surface level, allowed our team to sharpen each other spiritually (Proverbs 27:17) and encourage each other daily (Hebrews 3:13; Romans 1:14)
- God is a global God—The same God that I have seen at work in London, Cairo, and College Station is also making His name known in Vancouver. It brings me great joy to know that He is interested in worshippers from all people groups. (Revelation 5:11-14; Matthew 28:18-20)
- Short term trips are important to missions strategy—While short term efforts alone are insufficient to reach a people group with the gospel, they can be extremely helpful to the long term personnel on the field. Why? Because they can be a blessing to long term workers and because they can do more in a short amount of time than the field personnel can do on their own.
- The tabernacle is an interesting model of pursuing intimacy with God—Throughout our morning Bible studies, Bill presented the tabernacle of the Old Testament as a shadow of the heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 8:4-6). If we are going to be experiencing God in this way in Heaven, why not begin to do it now?
NOTE: This is the last of my reflections on the spring break trip to Vancouver