Mission Trip Devotions
By Sandy and Michael E Dixon, St Louis, MO
(Michael is an Intentional Interim Minister. Michael and Sandy have authored books of worship resources.)
- There is communion on Friday evening—plan ahead for those supplies.
- List of Songs: Some of these are in common domain and can be copied. If your congregation/group*** doesn’t have a CCLI license for those still under copyright, you can make contact for permissions or substitute another hymn that can be copied. The hymns do relate to the devotions for each day, so if substituting, choose one that reflects the same thoughts. *** Check to see if the specific Christian Church Region/Area/General Ministries Office sponsoring the mission trip has a CCLI license that would suffice as it would be a sponsored trip.
- The Church’s One Foundation
- Lead Me, Guide Me
- I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me
- Make Me a Servant
- On Eagle’s Wings
- The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended (copy from Christian Worship: a Hymnal p. 140—or any older hymnal; this is in common domain by now)
- You Are the Seed
- O Worship the King
- Jesu, Jesu
Feel free to edit the days to correspond to your specific trip.We have tried to use inclusive language; feel free to edit especially kingdom/reign to your specific preference (day 6) .
Devotions for Mission Trip
(suggestion: sing the Hymn of Day both morning and evening)
Day 1 Sunday Evening
Hymn of the Day: The Church’s One Foundation
Scripture: Ezra 3:10-12: Contemporary English Version (CEV)
10When the builders had finished laying the foundation of the temple, the priests put on their robes and blew trumpets in honor of the LORD, while the Levites from the family of Asaph praised God with cymbals. All of them followed the instructions given years before by King David. 11They praised the LORD and gave thanks as they took turns singing: "The LORD is good! His faithful love for Israel will last forever." Everyone started shouting and praising the LORD because work on the foundation of the temple had begun. 12Many of the older priests and Levites and the heads of families cried aloud because they remembered seeing the first temple years before. But others were so happy that they celebrated with joyful shouts.
Meditation: Building a house or any facility starts with a foundation. In the Bible reading, we hear that the priests and Levites praised God by putting on special garments and clashing cymbals. The older people cried in joy to see the temple being built again, and joyful shouts came from the people.
Imagine the joy that will come from your building and helping on this mission trip. Your foundation in the Christian faith has led you to act out this faith in action as you travel a long distance to help others. The foundations and other types of building work that you do will give witness to those you help. As in the scripture, people may cry aloud in joy as they see their homes and neighborhoods restored.
One can never know what kind of foundation all of you, by your work on this mission trip, will lay for others. The Christian faith has spirit-filled way of spreading by the work and witness of others. From those of us at your home congregation who remain at home, thank you for your faith lived out into work!
Prayer: God, we thank you for our safe journey this day. Thank you for our drivers who have brought us this far and for those at our local church who are supporting this mission trip with finances and prayer. Give us a good night’s rest. Thank you, Jesus for being the foundation of our faith; help us to share it as we work this week. Amen.
Day 2 Monday Morning
Hymn of the Day Lead Me, Guide Me
Scripture: Exodus 13:21 : Contemporary English Version (CEV) 21-22 During the day the LORD went ahead of his people in a thick cloud, and during the night he went ahead of them in a flaming fire. That way the LORD could lead them at all times, whether day or night.
Exodus 40:38-39: Contemporary English Version (CEV) 38No matter where the people traveled, the LORD was with them. Each day his cloud was over the tent, and each night a fire could be seen in the cloud.
Meditation: During the long time the Israelites were wandering in the desert, the presence of God was visibly with them. God appeared in the daytime as a cloud, and at night as a flame or fire. They were always led by God, they were never alone, and God’s presence was always visible to them.
During this long journey to the Gulf Coast, far from home and familiar things-- look for God’s presence. Look for that presence to guide today’s actual journey for safe travel, look for that presence to help you in your work rebuilding homes, look for that presence to encourage you in the enormity of the tasks ahead, look for God’s presence to help you say, “Yes! This is why we are here!”
Prayer: Guide our journey today, God; help us arrive safely to do your work. Let us greet enthusiastically this wonderful opportunity to serve you by helping our neighbors. Amen.
Day 2 Monday Evening
Scripture: Psalm 78: 13-16 Contemporary English Version: in Egypt. 13God made a path in the sea and piled up the water as he led them across. 14He guided them during the day with a cloud, and each night he led them with a flaming fire. 15God made water flow from rocks he split open in the desert, and his people drank freely, as though from a lake. 16He made streams gush out like rivers from rocks.
Meditation: What a long day; what a long trip, what a long time to be in the vans with one another, what a long day to reflect on what God is calling us to do a long way from home.
What a long trip for the Israelites, what a long time they wandered, what a long time they knew God was with them.
What a long trip that you knew God was leading you, what a long time everyone prepared for the mission trip, what a long time you can thank God for that presence that guides you.
Prayer: Thank you God for our safe arrival here. Thank you for guiding us, not only in our trip today, but in our decision to come on the Mission Trip to serve you. We look forward to your presence with us this week. Amen.
Day 3 Tuesday Morning
Hymn of the Day: I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me
Scripture: Romans 12:1-2 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
1Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That's the most sensible way to serve God. 2Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.
Meditation: The first day of work here on the Gulf Coast. Everything is unfamiliar, including the climate. You are preparing for an exhausting tiring day, yet at the same time, you are looking forward to an exciting day, meeting new friends, learning new skills, serving God by helping others. In a real way you are offering your bodies to God, sacrificing comfort for aches and pains. You are offering your bodily physical work, hot sweaty work, hard-to-get-your-breath-in-this-really-really-humid-climate work, tiring and perhaps even, at times, frustrating work, to God—pure and pleasing because you intentionally chose this way to serve. From the reports of many other mission trips, God will be changing the way you think as a result of your service. Your help to others, as you begin today, will be good and pleasing to God.
Prayer: God, excite us as we prepare to serve you today. Jesus Christ, our Savior, help to witness to living out our faith as we prepare to serve you today. Holy Spirit, empower us to be your people as we prepare to serve you today. Amen.
Day 3 Tuesday Evening
Scripture: Romans 12: 1-8 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Christ Brings New Life
1Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That's the most sensible way to serve God. 2Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. 3I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. 4A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. 5That's how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another. 6God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. 7If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. 8If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully.
Meditation: Well, today was it! The work began. And like the scripture says, a body is made up of many parts. You are the body of Christ—many parts working together. There are tear-downers (for lack of better words), dry wallers, painters, spacklers, roofers, nailers, go-fetchers, cooks, drivers, sun screen appliers, singers, encouragers, drivers, refreshing-drink getters, and lots of other important parts of Christ’s body. You have worked together to serve Christ. You have each used your different gifts, in your active faith to serve. Your actual body parts are or will be hurting, but the body of Christ was strengthened today by your work.
Prayer: Grant us a refreshing night’s rest God. Thank you for your presence with us here today giving us the strength to do your work. Calm our tired bodies. Jesus, thank you that you have shown us how to be part of your body—the church in action. Amen.
Day 4 Wednesday Morning
Hymn of the Day: Make Me a Servant
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:9-15 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
9The Scriptures say, "God freely gives his gifts to the poor, and always does right." 10God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. 11You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift. 12What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God's people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. 13The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honor and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God's people and with everyone else. 14Now they are praying for you and want to see you, because God used you to bless them so very much. 15Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words!
Meditation: This scripture passage, in the context, refers to giving money. Paul is sending Titus and several other people to collect the money that has been joyfully and generously given for the church. As you so well know, it takes more than money to build the body of Christ—the church. Yesterday, we explored how our different gifts work together so we rebuild a home that was destroyed in the hurricane. The gift of service, that you all are giving, is the essence of a mission trip and is just as important in building the body of Christ as is the material donations. You who have come on this mission trip have responded to the “message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God's people and with everyone else.” You are a blessing to the ones you are helping midst of a disaster. Today, look not only for ways you can be a blessing, but ways you are blessed in this serving, and ways other people who are serving are a blessing.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for giving us this opportunity to be a generous, giving people. Thank you for the chance to give of ourselves. As we offer our gifts of service, we thank you for your many indescribable gifts to us. Amen.
Day 4 Wednesday Evening
Mark 8: 1-9 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Jesus Feeds Four Thousand
1One day another large crowd gathered around Jesus. They had not brought along anything to eat. So Jesus called his disciples together and said, 2"I feel sorry for these people. They have been with me for three days, and they don't have anything to eat. 3Some of them live a long way from here. If I send them away hungry, they might faint on their way home." 4The disciples said, "This place is like a desert. Where can we find enough food to feed such a crowd?" 5Jesus asked them how much food they had. They replied, "Seven small loaves of bread."] 6After Jesus told the crowd to sit down, he took the seven loaves and blessed them. He then broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples, who passed them out to the crowd. 7They also had a few little fish, and after Jesus had blessed these, he told the disciples to pass them around.
8-9The crowd of about four thousand people ate all they wanted, and the leftovers filled seven large baskets.
Meditation: Have you felt like a servant today—a willing servant? Have you felt you were a blessing to anyone you had contact with. Important also, did you receive any blessings? The wonderful, nearly incomprehensible, marvelous thing about service and blessings given and received in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is that they seem to multiply. The seven loaves of bread and the few fish fed a large crowd. Who would have thought? The church grew because of twelve rather ordinary people who lived out their belief in Jesus Christ as they told others of the Good News! The church continues to grow because of service and blessing that keep multiplying. Giving and receiving, serving and being served, blessing and being blessed are part of the Christian community. That is how the body of Christ continues to grow. You are a part of this!
Prayer: Thank you, God, for this day that you have allowed us to serve in your son’s name. Thank you for using us to witness to your great message of love by our work. Thank you for blessing us with this opportunity. Amen.
Day 5 Thursday Morning
Hymn of the day: On Eagle’s Wings
Scripture: Isaiah 40:28-31 (CEV)
Don't you know? Haven't you heard? The LORD is the eternal God, Creator of the earth. He never gets weary or tired; his wisdom cannot be measured. 29The LORD gives strength to those who are weary. 30Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. 31But those who trust the LORD will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.
Meditation: These beautiful words of scripture were written to bring hope to a people who were in exile, far from home. God promised to lift them up and carry them. God promised them strength for their journey, so they could run with energy and walk with perseverance. As you prepare to start a new day, are you rested and filled with energy, or still stiff and sore from a tough week? Does part of you feel “in exile,” far from home and anxious to return? Remember that God is with you today, lifting you up, encouraging you, renewing your strength. Walk on. Be strong. Soar like an eagle.
Prayer: Lift me up on eagle’s wings, O Lord. Let my spirit be ever aware of your support and presence. Amen.
Day 5 Thursday Evening
Scripture: Isaiah 43:1-3a
1Descendants of Jacob, I, the LORD, created you and formed your nation. Israel, don't be afraid. I have rescued you. I have called you by name; now you belong to me. 2When you cross deep rivers, I will be with you, and you won't drown. When you walk through fire, you won't be burned or scorched by the flames. 3I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, the God who saves you.
Meditation: How were you aware of receiving strength from the Lord today? How were you encouraged? What reminded you of the eagle’s wings that you prayed and sang about this morning? Today’s scripture, also from Isaiah, honestly names troubles that Israel will have in returning to its homeland from exile. They will have to cross rivers and burning deserts, but they will be able to manage because it is God who saves them. What difficulties did you experience today? (They can be physical difficulties, emotional, relational, or spiritual.) What was painful to you? (Again, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual.) What resources did you call upon to get you through those rolling rivers or burning fires? Sometimes we can’t fly over our problems on eagle’s wings, we plod through them. But yet it is God who saves, God who gives you the strength to go on. Thank the Lord your God for being present with you today.
Prayer: We lift our difficulties, pains and sorrows to you, O Lord. Receive them. Help us sleep well, trusting in your love and in your closeness to each one of us. Amen.
Day 6 Friday Morning
Hymn of the Day: The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended (copy from Hymnbook for Christian Worship: p. 140—common domain by now)
Psalm 145 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The LORD Is Kind and Merciful
1I will praise you, my God and King, and always honor your name. 2I will praise you each day and always honor your name. 3You are wonderful, LORD, and you deserve all praise, because you are much greater than anyone can understand. 4Each generation will announce to the next your wonderful and powerful deeds. 5I will keep thinking about your marvelous glory and your mighty miracles.] 6Everyone will talk about your fearsome deeds, and I will tell all nations how great you are. 7They will celebrate and sing about your matchless mercy and your power to save. 8You are merciful, LORD! You are kind and patient and always loving. 9You are good to everyone, and you take care of all your creation. 10All creation will thank you, and your loyal people will praise you. 11They will tell about your marvelous kingdom and your power. 12Then everyone will know about the mighty things you do and your glorious kingdom. 13Your kingdom will never end, and you will rule forever. Our LORD, you keep your word and do everything you say.] 14When someone stumbles or falls, you give a helping hand. 15Everyone depends on you, and when the time is right, you provide them with food. 16By your own hand you satisfy the desires of all who live. 17Our LORD, everything you do is kind and thoughtful, 18and you are near to everyone whose prayers are sincere. 19You satisfy the desires of all your worshipers, and you come to save them when they ask for help. 20You take care of everyone who loves you, but you destroy the wicked. 21I will praise you, LORD, and everyone will respect your holy name forever.
Meditation: Are you wondering why you are singing a hymn about the closing of the day this early in the morning? It is chosen because of the wonderful message of the Reign (kingdom) of God that it portrays. The Psalm for today is a tribute to all that God has done and God’s wonderful attributes. Because of all this, people will tell of God’s kingdom (reign). God’s kingdom (reign) takes place because of the many Christians who act in love, trying to follow in their heavenly Father’s footsteps, and the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Re-read or re-sing vs. 2:
“We thank Thee that Thy church unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.”
Today as you end your work here on the Gulf Coast, keep in mind that you have had a part in building God’s kingdom (reign) on earth as you have helped rebuild a home. Works such as this are taking place over all the Gulf Coast by many groups, many congregations, many religious denominations, many people. The church sleeps not when there is God’s kingdom (reign) to build. God’s kingdom (reign) will never end. Praise God!
Prayer: We are humbled remembering the work you have helped you do this week - work that is helping build your kingdom (reign). Thank you for the strength you have given us to do these jobs, the courage to come on a mission trip and the blessings we have received as we have served. Amen.
Day 6 Friday Evening Communion Service
Matthew 13 (selected verses) Contemporary English Version (CEV)
1That same day Jesus left the house and went out beside Lake Galilee, where he sat down to teach.] 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he had to sit in a boat, while the people stood on the shore. 3Then he taught them many things by using stories. He said: A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. 4While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. 5Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn't very deep. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough roots. 7Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked the plants. 8But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants produced a hundred or sixty or thirty times as much as was scattered. 9If you have ears, pay attention! 18Now listen to the meaning of the story about the farmer: 19The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message about the kingdom, but don't understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the message from their hearts. 20The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it right away. 21But they don't have deep roots, and they don't last very long. As soon as life gets hard or the message gets them in trouble, they give up. 22The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they start worrying about the needs of this life and are fooled by the desire to get rich. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything. 23The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and understand the message. They produce as much as a hundred or sixty or thirty times what was planted.
31Jesus told them another story: The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a farmer plants a mustard seed in a field. 32Although it is the smallest of all seeds, it grows larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree. Birds even come and nest on its branches. 33Jesus also said: The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a woman mixes a little yeast into three big batches of flour. Finally, all the dough rises. 36After Jesus left the crowd and went inside, [c] his disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the story about the weeds in the wheat field." 37Jesus answered: The one who scattered the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seeds are the people who belong to the kingdom. The weed seeds are those who belong to the evil one, 39and the one who scattered them is the devil. The harvest is the end of time, and angels are the ones who bring in the harvest. 40Weeds are gathered and burned. That's how it will be at the end of time. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everyone who does wrong or causes others to sin. 42Then he will throw them into a flaming furnace, where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. 43But everyone who has done right will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. If you have ears, pay attention! 44The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when someone finds a treasure hidden in a field and buries it again. A person like that is happy and goes and sells everything in order to buy that field.
45The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a shop owner is looking for fine pearls. 46After finding a very valuable one, the owner goes and sells everything in order to buy that pearl. 51Jesus asked his disciples if they understood all these things. They said, "Yes, we do." 52So he told them, "Every student of the Scriptures who becomes a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like someone who brings out new and old treasures from the storeroom."
Meditation: And what is the kingdom (reign) of God like? What did you work for this long tiring week? The analogies in the list from this scripture are many: God, in God’s abundance scatters many many seeds to take root and grow. The kingdom (reign) of God is like the tiniest of seeds, unlikely to grow into anything auspicious. The kingdom (reign) of God is like yeast mixed with flour, salt, eggs, sugar and doubles in size for bread. The kingdom (reign) of God is like finding a treasure in a field, or a pearl in a store worth all one has in material wealth and the commitment to buy it.
The kingdom (reign) of God is always dynamic; sing again vs. two of the Hymn of the Day:
“We thank Thee that Thy church unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.”
The church as an agent of God’s (reign) kingdom, is always in action; we are seeds—sometimes in great quantity, sometimes quite small; we are yeast, we are hidden treasure; we are gems of great value.
Pass around the bread
Pray: God we thank you for all you have been to us this week. You have been a foundation; you have gone before us and guided us you have given us strength as each of us have used of gifts to serve you; you have renewed us to let us soar in your name. We have been blessed by the service we gave and we trust that our work has been a blessing to others. We take this bread remembering all that you have done and continue to do for your kingdom (reign). Amen.
Pass around the cup
Pray: In this week soon after Pentecost, we thank you, God, for your Holy Spirit that is always with us. We have felt the presence of the Spirit this week as part of your body—the church. The drinking of this cup is a celebration of what you have done for each of your children. Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.
Closing song: “You Are the Seed”
Traveling Sat AM
Hymn of the Morning: “O Worship the King”
Scripture: Psalm 104:1-3: Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The LORD Takes Care of His Creation
1I praise you, LORD God, with all my heart. You are glorious and majestic, dressed in royal robes 2and surrounded by light. You spread out the sky like a tent, 3and you built your home over the mighty ocean. The clouds are your chariot with the wind as its wings.
Meditation: Our hymn for today is based upon today’s scripture, Psalm 104. The three verses we read introduce a song of praise and trust in God’s power and God’s care. If you have a Bible handy, quickly review the other stanzas of the Psalm, perhaps assigning a different stanza to each person. Look for connections between the hymn and the Psalm. How do each, Psalm and hymn, praise and glorify God? How do you glorify God this morning? How do each, Psalm and hymn, show God’s love and kindness? How have you experienced God’s love and kindness this week, and how have you been an agent of God’s love and kindness? How do each, Psalm and hymn, encourage us to trust in God? May God’s tender mercies guide and surround you today as you complete your journey home.
Prayer: “Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite? It breathes in the air, it shines in the light; it streams from the hills, it descends to the plains, and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.” Amen.
Arriving home Saturday PM
Hymn of Arrival: “Jesu, Jesu
Scripture: John 13:12-17 : Contemporary English Version (CEV)
12After Jesus had washed his disciples' feet and had put his outer garment back on, he sat down again. Then he said: Do you understand what I have done? 13You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. 14And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. 15I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 16I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. 17You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.
Meditation: Welcome home, congratulations, and thank you! Educators talk about learning by doing. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as an object lesson, that to be first in Christ’s reign meant to be a servant of all. He encouraged the disciples to become blessed by doing what they know—by acting out the love that Christ had given them. That’s what you’ve been doing this whole trip—imitating your Master by serving and caring. Think about how good it felt after a hot and sweaty day of working to hit the shower or at least a wash basin and have refreshing water wash away the sweat and grime. Even though you knew that you would soon be sticky and grimy again, you were refreshed and hopefully relaxed. Imagine Jesus washing your tired, hot, burning, sore feet and feel inside you the love he enacted. Imagine Jesus saying to you, as the master said in the parable of the talents, (Matthew 26:21) "Wonderful! … "You are a good and faithful servant.”
Prayer: Thank you, God, for all the gifts that you have given us in this week, and all the gifts that we were able to give. Thank you for the gift of community that we have experienced and shared. Thank you for safe travel, and thank you for being home safe again. Amen.