By Bruce Finn
The boomerang is on my short list of obsolete toys, together with the slinky, the hula hoop, and the pogo stick. The invention of the boomerang is credited to the Aborigines of Australia who used it for hunting, fishing and as a weapon. First using sticks and stones, these prehistoric indigenous people “Down Under” eventually discovered that a curved stick, when thrown, returns to you. And that’s the principal characteristic of a boomerang: when you throw it into the wind, it comes back.
“The boomerang effect” is an expression derived from the property of an actual boomerang that describes how a particular action will invariably result in a certain reaction, response, or return. And one way I’ve seen the boomerang effect in real life is as it applies to mission trips. Typically, people go on a mission trip expecting to give, to serve and to bless others. In other words, they throw themselves into the wind of the mission field hoping to add value to those who live there in Jesus’ Name. Yet, almost without fail, like a boomerang, the blessing they hoped to give returns to them in an even greater measure. As they come home in the car, on the train or airplane, they realize that they have gained far more than they have given on the mission trip. Boomerang!
This summer Covenant will send 64 people on mission trips: 42 to Dominican Republic, 14 to Belize, and 8 to Zimbabwe. They go to give, to serve, and to bless the people who live in these needy places, hoping to add value to the ministries that already exist there. They will do light construction projects. They will offer Bible-centered programs for children. And they will engage with the local people relationally, sharing the love of Jesus in word and deed and for the glory of God. But “the boomerang effect” of missions guarantees that each one who goes will return feeling more blessed than the blessing they left behind. Jesus acknowledged this boomerang effect when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” - Acts 20:39
On the list of boomerang blessings that return to those who go are the following:
A greater appreciation for the material blessings we enjoy.
For many on the mission trip this will be their first time traveling outside the United States, especially to a Third World country where material poverty is more prevalent. I have visited one of the largest, worst slums in the world, in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya. I can testify to the deep emotional impact that such an experience can have on your soul. God has richly blessed our country, particularly our county and community, at least in material things.
An admiration of the joy and deep spirituality among the poor.
Despite the physical neediness that exists in the world, I have seen how those who lack material riches can be rich in spirit. I have heard the laughter of orphaned children playing soccer with a ball made out of discarded cloth and string, children who display greater joy and happiness than the richest children on earth. I have witnessed the exuberant, uninhibited worship and dependent prayers from some of the poorest people in the world. These expressions of deep spirituality make me jealous for my own soul to experience more of God.
A profound awareness of Jesus’ special presence with you on the mission trip.
Jesus promised His disciples that, as they go into the world to make disciples, He would be with them in a profound and personal way (Matthew 28:20). Of course, Jesus is always with us wherever we are, wherever we go. But Jesus says that we can expect to experience His presence with us particularly as we move forward toward the frontlines of His mission to the world.
A sense of being part of something greater than yourself and our church.
Let’s face it: we each live in a bit of a bubble. We tend to see ourselves, our church, and the world from a limited perspective. And our view of God’s work in the world is limited by our own small vantage point. But when you get up and go on a mission trip, you begin to see yourself in the larger picture of God’s great mission work in the world. And you’ll see Covenant Church as just one outpost for Jesus among many, millions of outposts across the globe and throughout the ages. By expanding your view, you are inspired by taking part in the great mission of God.
A desire to see God use you at home as He did on the trip.
As you serve Jesus so intentionally on a mission trip, you may find yourself wondering why it can’t be more like this back home. You’ll begin to dream and imagine how God might use you to be the hands, the feet, the heart and the voice of Jesus at Covenant and in our own community. You will see yourself as a missionary, not only when you are out of the country or in another culture, but a missionary all the time and wherever God has placed you.
This weekend we will commission (in other words: set part with prayer) 64 people from Covenant who will be sent out on mission trips this summer. Let us pray that the boomerang effect of missions will impact each one who goes, and that this impact will be felt throughout our sending congregation.