Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dealing With Demons



Dealing with demons. Does it sound radical? Or scary? Does it evoke images of a remote village in Africa somewhere?

We deal with demons on a daily basis in our missionary lives in Berlin—and you actually do, too. If you’re reading this in America or another Western country, you might not realize how much you are influenced by demonic spirits in an average day.

The reality we see with our physical eyes is not a complete picture of Reality. Spiritual forces are at work all around us all the time, and we who are filled with the Holy Spirit are a spiritual force, too. It is our role as representatives of the Kingdom of God to release His Kingdom into our assigned places in this world. Sometimes the way we have to start is by kicking out evil spirits who want to steal territory. 

Evil spirits, a.k.a. demons, are nasty. They want to dig their claws into you and into locations and objects. Their intent is to steal, kill and destroy—the agenda of hell. But all authority in heaven and on earth is given to our beautiful Jesus, and the agents of hell cannot stand against Him. (Matthew 28:18) If He is alive in you and you are filled up with His Spirit, you stand in the highest authority in our universe; and you have the power and the right to tell demons to take a hike. (Luke 10:19-20) You don’t need a seminary degree, you don’t have to have the Bible memorized, you don’t need to be a pastor. Every believer in Jesus is granted authority to enforce the Kingdom, even by casting out demons.

Some personal stories:

Every Tuesday and Thursday night, Tim meets together with refugee friends in a discipleship group. Most of those meetings involve deliverance ministry of some sort—dealing with the effects of witchcraft these friends have experienced in the past, spirits of infirmity, poverty mindset/spirit, captivities in their hearts from horrible things done to them, and the list goes on. These refugee friends know demons are real, and they are experiencing the power of Jesus to set them free! This is pretty much business as usual these days.

Beyond those two evenings each week, we encounter demons in many ways, and we actively “clean house” as we go. Every morning we walk our kids to school, so we have a well-worn route we take each day. As I walk back home, I spend my time praying through my neighborhood, releasing God’s Kingdom, praying in the spirit. One day I started noticing that as I rounded the corner off the main road, I began having horrible, tormenting thoughts. I would replay hurtful conversations and situations in my mind over and over, and my emotions would boil inside me. Those thoughts would consume me until I made it home and was able to shake it off. This happened for about a week until I got a clue about what was going on…I had been walking through a war zone of demonic spirits! Each day was the same: praying, going along just fine until I turned the corner, and then WHAM! Dark, tormenting thoughts about some people who were causing a great amount of trouble for us and their evil actions that wounded me. Same location every day.

Once I realized the pattern, I knew exactly what was going on. The next time I walked the kids to school, I was ready. I dropped them off, walked back down the street toward home, rounded the corner and started doing some business. I could almost see a row of black, vulturous demons like birds on a wire down the whole street. So, I stuck out my arm and walked down the street (probably looking like a crazy person, but I didn’t care), and commanded them to leave in Jesus’ name. There was no shouting or fanfare—just me, filled with the Holy Spirit, walking boldly down the street (with my arm out), sweeping demons off their perches. That isn’t their street anymore. I’m enforcing the Kingdom there now. (And I have experienced proof in the absence of those tormenting thoughts when I turn the corner!)

I even do this in covert ways, in the stride of my day. If I sense something is off, I shut it down in Jesus’ name! We ride the trains in our city to get around, so we spend a lot of time in train cars with the rest of Berlin’s population. Sometimes we hear outbursts from someone who seems drunk or high or other…and sometimes we know there are evil spirits at work. Many times, just sitting in my seat, I will say, “Be quiet right now”, or even a simple “shhhhhh.” And the atmosphere in the train car shifts. Or, I might walk into a train station with my kids and get an uneasy feeling about a person or a general area on the platform. So, I call it out, nonchalantly, and command evil spirits to get out. And then I start singing praise songs to Jesus.

Think you might be dealing with some demons? It’s not a big, complicated thing to get rid of them. Here are the ways we have learned to enforce the Kingdom of God in our daily lives:

1. Keep the flame of the Holy Spirit active in your heart. Make every effort to nurture your connection to the Spirit: focus your mind on God; keep your heart in an attitude of worship and prayer; read, meditate and speak out Scripture. Ask Him to fill you up.

2. Pray for the Holy Spirit to show you what you need to see. He will open your spiritual eyes and let you know what evil is lurking around causing trouble.

3. Stand boldly in the authority of Jesus’ name and command evil spirits to leave. No need to be afraid of them, and no need to draw attention to them. They WANT a show, so they will try to scare you and cause drama. Just stand firm and unfazed. Be super unimpressed with them, and demand that they leave. Repeating yourself over and over in a chant is not necessary, neither are hyper-spiritual antics. Just stand firm, commanding them to go until they do. If they resist you, start quoting Scripture and welcoming the presence of God. Focus on Him and let their drama die out.

4. Fill the void. It is very important that you fill the space the demons used to occupy—and fill it with Kingdom stuff. Worship and praise Jesus; declare truth and prophesy to the place/person; claim the person/place as a habitation for the Holy Spirit.

You can do the same thing in your everyday life. If the Holy Spirit helps you discern what is going on around you, that is His invitation to you to enforce the Kingdom. Don’t be afraid, don’t be impressed with the show—kick out the riff-raff and release the Kingdom of God!

"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." John 14:12 NLT

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Keep It, Fix It, Chuck It, Add It

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Photo Credit: freewebpoint.com

With the turn of almost every new year, I feel this familiar tidal wave of hope-filled aspirations crashing in. A fresh start gets me kind of excited about possibilities! 

The start of a new year is the perfect time to look at the scope of life to see what has been working and what hasn't, and to formulate a plan to help get you where you want to go. Obviously, most people use the start of the new year to kick off new, healthier lifestyles in regards to eating and exercising--and that's great. If you never dream it, you'll never do it. But, I think for me, it's my time to do some heart inventory and see what should stay, what needs repair, what needs to go, and what I should probably add.

Here's my list-in-process for the gloriously untainted year of 2017:

Keep It:

1. Undercurrent of Joy--it truly is my strength, so it's a keeper
2. Love for all people--the foundation of releasing God's kingdom, which is my number one job--gotta have it and let it grow
3. Value for hosting God's Presence--this has to remain a top priority in my life, and I must clear out other things to make more room for it in my heart
4. Thoughtful, intentional words of life--words carry weight and create realities, so I must use my words to create life in me and around me


Fix It:

1. Core relationships--anywhere I have a breach in my immediate family or first, inner circle of relationships, I want to prayerfully and humbly make repairs
2. Attitudes--a tune-up in any area of complacency, negativity or hard-heartedness--unchecked, bad attitudes are chinks in my armor, and I want to be sure I do not allow them to go unrepaired
3. Forgiveness--releasing those who have hurt me, and instead of exacting my own vengeance, handing them over to God--no time for anyone to be "on my hook"


Chuck It:

(My dad, in his overzealous yet endearing way of clearing out the clutter, taught me the beauty of this phrase when I was a very young child...)

1. Drama--any useless, life-draining circumstances or fringe relationships/interactions I can let go of with a clear conscience--outta here!
2. Careless words--any negative speech, flippant comments or critical asides--gonna ditch 'em
3. Fear--of failure, of rejection, of other people's opinions--done with it, gots-ta go
4. Excuses--it's far too late for excuses. Buh-bye.


Add It:

1. Scripture--more Word going in, memorizing, reading, talking about it, chewing on it
2. Gathering people for discipleship--thinking of ways to meet more refugee women and create an environment for community and ministry
3. Writing--focused writing time to tackle some big projects on my shelf

How about you? What things will you fix in 2017? What things will you chuck? Anything you want to add to your life this year?





Monday, November 21, 2016

The Secret to Everything: Thoughts on Loss, Holidays and the Power of Gratitude



The holidays are upon us. Christmas decorations are going up even before Thanksgiving turkeys have been purchased, people are crossing gifts off their shopping lists, and the overall level of anxiety in the USA is rising. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

For a lot of us, this will be the first round of holidays after the loss of a family member, or after a traumatic event like a divorce. Now, added into the mix of holiday busyness and excitement is a twinge of pain around the newly formed hole in your heart. I feel it, too. For countless more, this will be ANOTHER holiday season alone--again. I understand.

If you and I are going to make it through the holidays without a meltdown, we are going to need a plan. (And a REAL plan, not just adding more rum to your punch.) We need the happy people to share their secret with us.

This is where the genius of Thanksgiving comes in.

In American history, we have recorded the first Thanksgiving Feast as a hallmark in our nation’s existence. A small group of settlers made it through their first brutal winter in a new land, many of them losing their loved ones to disease just days and weeks beforehand. The survivors had many things to grieve, yet they made a point to be grateful.

They were on to something. If you want to survive grief, loss and trauma in your life, you must consciously choose gratitude.

It is necessary to grieve your losses. It is healthy to vent your sorrow and your anger over what has happened. But you cannot live in that place permanently and expect to survive it. The best way––the only way––to come through these tough times intact is to choose to be grateful. To CHOOSE thanksgiving. Learning to be grateful is the secret to everything.

Thankfulness is a God-idea. He knows that when we begin to thank Him, our sights are recalibrated and our hearts get realigned. The Psalmist knew this secret all too well, and he recorded it for us so we could know it too: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4). Thankfulness transports you into God’s presence; and in His presence is where you will find fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

Want some practical ways to choose gratitude this holiday season?

1. Lock down your lips. Don’t just let words come pouring out of your mouth unchecked––choose your words. Choose words that are positive, encouraging and gracious. Getting together with family can be a volatile situation on the best of days, and with the added pressure of holiday festivities, someone is bound to explode over something. Don’t let it be you! Decide ahead of time to keep your mouth shut if you can’t think of something good to say.

2. Keep a “Thankful For” list. You can like the idea of becoming a more grateful person, but if you are not intentional about it, you never will become one. Get an actual pen and an actual notebook or notepad and start your own personal “Thankful For” list. Actually, literally write down the things you are thankful for! Keep it with you and add to it whenever you come up with something else. After a while of doing this, you will find yourself LOOKING for new things to be thankful for, and you will find your heart feeling a bit lighter. Keeping a list helps retrain your thoughts, and retraining your thoughts will retrain your emotions.

3. Help someone else.  Sometimes you just need to stop thinking about yourself and focus on someone else for a while. This is the perfect time of year to help other people! I am sure you personally know some families in need––surprise them with groceries or gifts or an envelope of cash! Dream up ways you can bless people who are needy and hurting. Join with a church or charity to serve meals and bless the poor. Find creative ways to serve with your time: cleaning someone’s home, fixing their car, babysitting their children. The sky’s the limit when you start thinking of ways to help other people in their times of need! When you help others and put their needs first, you are blessed in the process.

4. Check your input. Whatever you put into your mind and heart will be exactly what comes back out of you! If you listen to sad, depressing music and read sad, depressing books, then you will continue to be a sad, depressed person. If you are tired of feeling the same way you have for so long, do something different! Listen to joyful music that puts a smile on your face. Read books and articles that bring hope to the surface of your heart. Take large bites of the Psalms in the Bible and start repeating the meaningful ones out loud. Focusing your heart and mind on God’s goodness and the blessings in your life will turn you into a grateful person.

One of the best books written in the past decade (according to me) is all about gratitude. Author Ann Voskamp details her own deeply personal loss and her journey back to full life via the highway of thankfulness in her book One Thousand Gifts. She invites you into her world as she experiments with the idea of being thankful in the midst of great sorrow, and transports you as she paints exquisite word-portraits with her unique style of writing. I was so uplifted as I read her story and I was challenged to take charge of my own emotional pain through the miraculous portal of gratitude. If you are looking for a starting place on your journey to thankfulness, this book is a great one.

I pray that your heart is transformed into a palace of thanksgiving and that you experience a deeper, sweeter holiday season with those you love this year! Gratitude truly is the secret to everything… Let’s get the secret out!


(This article originally appeared on SingleMatters.com in November 2013:
http://www.singlematters.com/secret-everything/ )

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

It's Still Happening

Tempelhof Airport has been converted into a massive refugee housing facility in Berlin. Photo credit: New York Times


We are still in a refugee crisis.

Even though the headlines are not about boats capsizing and children washing ashore in Greece anymore, the fact remains that a mass migration of people is still happening on the planet. So many people have flooded into Germany, hoping for a better, safer life--and the system is overrun.

I wrote this article several months ago at the height of the crisis here in Europe, but it still rings true. And you can still help.

Our mission here in Berlin is now largely focused on reaching out to refugees--Syrian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Eritrean and people from all varieties of African nations, Afghani, Iranian, Iraqi, and the list goes on. I'll be honest and say that I had a healthy fear of Muslim people when we first moved to Berlin. It was all I had been programmed to believe as an American. But as I live alongside them and now see floods of Muslim refugees risking everything to flee their homelands, I'm not afraid anymore. They are PEOPLE, with flesh and blood just like me. God has broken our hearts for these people and now I can see past the cultural exterior into their souls.

Having compassion and understanding doesn't mean you must change your views on Islam or that you should somehow accept terrorism as a normal occurrence. We understand that terrorists make the most of every opportunity to sneak in and wreak havoc. But we also understand that terrorists have been doing the very same thing all along anyway...

So, how do we handle this conundrum? There's no easy, catch-all answer.

Obviously we are not government officials, lawmakers or politicians, so our opinions and experience have little to do with how the US government should react, or what different European nations should do. Our response and the choices we make on this issue come out of our devotion to Jesus Christ and our commitment to follow Him wherever He leads, no matter what. The choices on the table are:

1) trust God with our safety, or don't
2) treat people like Jesus did, or don't
3) build God's kingdom, or don't
4) live each day from faith, or don't

As Tim and I consider all these things and where God has led us, we can look back and see a long history of how He takes care of us. He has been faithful time and time again, and when our faith legs get a little wobbly, we just have to look behind us to see the long trail of His goodness and mercy following us. We choose to trust that He can keep us safe in the place He put us. We choose to treat people as Jesus would--especially seeking out the weak, despised and outcast to love them and restore them. We choose to build God's kingdom daily by sharing His love and message of salvation through Jesus. And we choose to live each day from a reservoir of faith, pushing out every fear by receiving a fresh wave of God's love into our souls.

Want to know how you can help from wherever you are in the world?

1. Pray

Set aside time to sit quietly and intercede for these war-torn people before our Father in heaven. Bring these refugees before the throne of grace and ask God to comfort them, heal them and set them free. Ask for an open, soft heart to the life Jesus offers them. Pray for their safety. Pray for their families left behind. Pray for their futures. Pray for their salvation. Pray for all the nations receiving refugees to be able to adequately care for them and integrate them. Pray for help. Pray for an end to the violence. Pray for the Holy Spirit of God and the host of heaven to stop evil attacks before they start.

2. Give

Some of you have asked about organizations here who are at the front lines and how to donate. We're here, we're at the front lines and we are definitely engaged in the spiritual battle for people's hearts. While there are larger organizations helping at the most strained entry points, would you please consider supporting us as we work with refugees almost every day? We can only do this work with generous financial partners who link arms with us across the continents to accomplish a big thing for God's kingdom.

We are not sent by any particular church for our work here (although we do have one partner church who contributes a monthly amount), and therefore our ministry is supported solely by donations from personal connections, family and friends. And speaking candidly, we are only about 60% funded right now. We have to trust God to provide for us in a daily bread way--we have no idea if we'll have what it takes to live and work here for the next month, but we are trusting that God provides for every part of the calling He gave us. If you want to help refugees, your donation to our ministry work will definitely make a difference--especially as we approach the holiday season and are able to bless families and children in the refugee homes near us. We have ideas for ongoing projects to help with their building maintenance and care for their facilities, to love on the children by playing games and teaching classes, to build relationships with the parents and share Jesus with them in word and in very practical deeds.  

Do you want to help? Please donate to our work here with refugees! We are so grateful for all donations, no matter the amount! We welcome one-time donations, but we specifically need people to join us as monthly partners. Could you commit to donating $100/month to support our ministry work here in Europe? Or any amount per month? Click the "Donate" link below!

                                                               Donate

 3. Have faith

Extinguish the flames of fear by living out of radical faith in Jesus. Let grace and peace seep out of your pores. Stamp out the fires of hatred with words of kindness and love. Refuse to be intimidated by fear, but instead, counter fear with faith. Look fear in the eyes and smile. Then tell it to leave. Be filled with faith in the Everlasting God.

4. Reach out

Do you have any Muslim families in your neighborhood? At your workplace? Make friends with them. Invite them over for dinner (do a little research on what to serve). Get to know them--ask them about their extended family, their hobbies, their concerns. Love them. Draw them in instead of pushing them away. Reach out beyond yourself to make a difference right where you are.

There are no easy answers or quick-fixes for this earth-shaking scenario. But if each of us make the choice to love where there is hate, and have faith instead of fear, we can change things where we are right now.

If you have questions about the refugee situation here in Europe, we are happy to answer them. You can email us anytime: cristaashworth@yahoo.com


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

7 Reasons To Serve Away From Home




I hear it all the time.

“It’s a waste of time and money to travel to a far-off country to do missions projects.”

“We will do more harm than good if we drop into a place for two weeks, feed the homeless and love on the orphans, then leave again.”

“It’s better to stay in our own community to serve than to take a group somewhere else. There’s plenty to do right here.”

Well, if you have zero experience with the Kingdom of God, then maybe you could espouse these ideas with a clear conscience. To the humanistic, atheistic mind, it would make sense to keep your eyes on yourself and your own group. An atheistic mind has no frame of reference for self-sacrifice or any compelling reason to go; but these ideas are not compatible with legitimate Christianity. They are actually “anti-” Christ. The philosophy here is “don’t go” when Jesus Himself clearly said “go"...

Click here to continue reading at Single Matters...


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Control: The Counterfeit of Real Power

Image courtesy of nipitphand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


 Something ugly we have experienced too often in ministry (almost always with people who profess to follow Jesus) is the effect of control and manipulation. As we step out to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, we sometimes run up against an invisible wall of control and stagger backward a few steps, nursing our wounds. 

There is indeed a spirit behind this control thing, and it tries to derail everything the Holy Spirit is doing through His people. It is annoying, frustrating, demeaning, confusing, divisive and basically just pure evil, and we have had quite enough of this nasty spirit. Because we and our team have dealt with this kind of interference so much, I want to dissect the issue a bit and trace the lineage of this spirit of control back a few steps to get some understanding.

What I find as I dig down a few layers is a direct link back to fear. Let’s look at how this plays out.

In the very beginning, back in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) when God presented all His wonderful creation to Adam and Eve, He gave them a choice. He never wanted automatons—He has always been after relationship; and relationship must be based on mutual choice. God offered Adam and Eve the choice to trust Him, or to look somewhere else for a trustworthy ally. They chose to believe the snake instead of God and by doing so, unplugged from their source of life. They gambled on the snake’s lie and they lost everything.

Then, we see a pattern emerge that still haunts every person on the planet to this day: shame-fear-blame…and further down the line, control/manipulation.


Once Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—the one tree God told them to avoid—they saw their nakedness and they felt shame. Then, when they heard God walking in the garden and calling for them, they were afraid and they hid. And we are all familiar with the blame game they played so well at the time of reckoning.

“The woman you gave me made me do it!”

“The serpent made me do it!”

This same old pattern is observable in everyday life today. When we feel shame (the residue of sin), we buy into the lies of FEAR. Fear is a spirit (II Timothy 1:7) and all it does is lie to us. If we believe those lies, we empower the spirit of fear and give it permission to set up camp.

As we listen to the spirit of fear, we begin to feel insecure. Fear tells us:

you are not wanted
you are not good enough
you are damaged
you are wrong
you are stupid
you are worthless

The spirit of fear attacks identity. It draws your focus to SELF, and leads you to examine your nakedness and lack.

When we feel insecure, we feel powerless, and we need someone to be responsible for these things. We start to blame others for our insecurity and powerlessness, just like Adam and Eve did in the beginning. But do you realize, when you blame, you are actually giving away your power? By blaming someone else or blaming circumstances for your current predicament, you are saying, “I am not responsible for me. I am a victim.” Blaming is a way we try to justify our victimhood. Blame is defensive and critical—and powerless. Blame negates self-control, so the next step down the road is trying to control everyone else.

“Powerless people approach relationships as consumers,” (Danny Silk, Keep Your Love On). Like vampires, they suck the good qualities out of the people around them, leaving “dead bodies” everywhere they go. And these powerless people do not adjust themselves to you—no, they stay stubbornly the same, waiting on you to adjust to them, which is control. It can be passive or it can be in your face, but it is control, nonetheless.

Let’s identify some ways that control shows itself:

-       Control manipulates your feelings and your words to push you into its desired response.
-       Control steals power from you so it can be unquestioningly in charge.
-       Control uses the threat of punishment (implied or actually verbalized) to force you into doing what it wants.
-       Control shuts you out if you disagree.
-       Control is painfully self-centered, even while feigning a focus on others.
-       Control sweetly tells you what you want to hear, but never delivers.
-       Control says, “My way or the highway.”
-       Control is easily offended.
-       Control must have the last word.

Control is a counterfeit of real power. It is directly linked back to fear—which is an evil spirit—and it is part of the lineage of death. It came from death and it reproduces death.

FEAR
|
INSECURITY
|
BLAME
|
CONTROL


Now for the flip-side, the heavenly reality that should be at work in our lives:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”   
II Timothy 1:7 NKJV

What was God’s response to Adam and Eve back in the Garden of Eden after they sinned? Love. They blamed—He covered. They were not immune from the consequences of the choice they made, but God’s response was love, provision and redemption—from the very beginning.

We—as God’s children, as co-heirs with Christ, as disciples of Jesus and as people who have the Holy Spirit—are supposed to be motivated, driven by, LOVE. The deep, unrelenting, fierce, covering love of God.

His love gives us identity. He calls us His children, His Body, His Bride, His Beloved, His friends. This identity gives us security and confidence and we trust that He cares for us and has our best interests at heart.

When we have a strong sense of identity, we are able to take responsibility for ourselves; we are able to demonstrate the fruit of His Spirit alive in us: self-control. A person who knows who they are and can take responsibility for himself/herself is a very powerful person.

A powerful person understands that the only one he can truly control is himself. And with that understanding, a powerful person is able to respond to people instead of merely reacting in fear. At this point, we are free to release power all around us—true, legitimate power from the ultimate power Source!

Power to influence others into the Kingdom.
Power to counter lies with truth.
Power to set captives free.
Power to heal the sick.
Power to bring light into darkness.
Power to set things right.
Power to launch other people into destiny.
Power to restore.
Power to bring life.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” 
I Corinthians 4:20 NKJV

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 
Acts 1:8 NKJV

“…my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 
I Corinthians 2:4-5 NKJV

“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” 
Colossians 2:9-10 NKJV


True, legitimate power came from life, and it reproduces life:

LOVE
|
IDENTITY/SECURITY
|
RESPONSIBILITY
|
POWER


To give you an easy way to identify which track you are on, here are some side-by-side characteristics of Control and Power:

A CONTROLLING PERSON
A POWERFUL PERSON


Threatens
Invites
Squashes
Lifts
Restricts
Releases
Belittles
Builds
Critiques
Encourages
Depresses
Expresses/Inspires
Binds
Sets free
Dictates
Inquires
Is inwardly focused
Is outwardly focused


Fear-based living is life at its lowest—just survival. It is a constant succession of fight or flight reactions. But Love-based living is life at its best—abundant life through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you!     

Which will you choose? You get the choice all day long. God is not controlling—He always offers you the choice to trust Him or something else…to operate in His fullness or in your own strength…to play by the death-laden rules of the world or to flow in the life-giving ways of heaven.



Choose wisely.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Best Teams




We have been on assignment in Berlin for two years now, and we have experienced all different kinds of ministry with an array of different kinds of teams and leaders. Some of the short-term team ministry has been iffy and a smidge lame, but a lot of it has been absolutely amazing! I think we have learned a bit about guiding teams into outreach, helping them maximize their impact and their time on the ground—and about motivating them to really stretch the demonstration of their faith. Along with those things, we have also identified some qualities in the teams we really enjoy working with—things that make the whole trip go smoothly, bring joy and establish God’s kingdom in a lasting way.

From our experience, here are the things we think make the very best short-term missions teams on global outreach:

1. Outrageous Compassion

To travel across the earth and deal with uncertainties, discomforts and sometimes danger, you truly must ingest a lethal dose of the compassion of Christ. It has to be enough to kill your preferences, your wants and wishes, and your creature comforts. It has to consume you to your core—otherwise, you won’t be very effective at sharing Christ’s compassion with others. Team members who seek out the poor and the lowly are the kind of people you really want to work with.

2. Servanthood Mindset

At the end of team outreaches, Tim and I enjoy reminiscing about the ones who came to serve. People who elevate others above themselves and seek no recognition or special treatment are jewels. If you can recruit team members who already have a servanthood mindset, your team will be amazing. The servanthood mindset means that your team members will be watching out for each other and meeting needs within the team; it also means that they will be looking for opportunities to serve everywhere you go. These are definitely the kind of people you want to recruit and train for your mission.

3. Hustle

There’s no room for dead weight on mission. If you are putting a team together for global outreach, I challenge you to evaluate this attribute very seriously in each candidate. Teams who show up with every member ready to work together and ready to move can accomplish a whole lot; teams who have to carry one or two who can’t (or won’t) get with the program will be extremely frustrated and ineffective. To me, this would be a huge determining factor in who I chose for my outreach team.

4. Humility

Spending time in a foreign culture is such a deepening experience—it can open your heart and mind in a very special way. To truly make connections with people in a different place, though, you must-must-must have a humble, open spirit.  Teams who come to love and bless are far more effective in sharing the gospel than others who come in thinking they “have the answer” and are going to show these poor people how things ought to be. It’s all in the attitude—and people can read you from a mile away.

5. Flexibility

This seems to be one of the best qualities a human being can possess, regardless of lot in life—but people serving in global missions need it bigtime. Things fall through, plans change, people flake out, the enemy resists you…and you have to be flexible or you. will. break.

6. Positivity

Hand in hand with flexibility goes positivity—seeing the good in people and situations, no matter what. The last thing you want on mission in a foreign land is to be stuck in a group of whiny complainers. (Believe me, I know this from personal experience.) You cannot share the hope and life of Jesus out of a negative framework. You want a group full of people committed to counting blessings and speaking life even when the going gets tough!


Overarching all of these qualities, there are two things that are absolutely imperative for taking on a mission overseas:

1. A vibrant relationship with Jesus—a lifestyle of hearing Him and doing what He says, partnering with Him to bring heaven wherever you go.



2. Operating in the power of the Holy Spirit—expecting Him to show up in miraculous ways, and understanding the realities of spiritual warfare against a very real enemy and his armies.


Attempting to travel into and function in a spiritually dark place without having those two elements operating in your life pretty much guarantees you will be flattened upon arrival. Don’t skip those two!

As full-time missionaries, Tim and I truly enjoy team ministry. The impact that a dynamic, Spirit-filled group of people can make in a city is powerful! If you are considering a short-term mission trip as a team member or as a leader, please evaluate yourself and your team using these criteria above. The more you can prepare your heart and help lead your team in these areas, the richer your mission experience will be as you see people come alive with faith in Jesus!