Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

To Enjoy Me Forever? Reflecting on the Purposes of God

“In the early years of my walk with Jesus Christ I lived under the illusion that Christianity was about me,” confesses author and teacher Jeff Lewis. “I thought that I (man) was the center of God’s world; that my needs were the basis for His actions.” In fact, in God’s Heart for the Nations Lewis goes so far as to say, “I believed that the ultimate purpose of God was to grant me salvation and enjoy me forever!”

Many others have observed (and unfortunately also experienced) much the same thing. A me-focused or man-focused view of the scriptures may seriously distort our understanding of God and His purposes. We become blind us to God’s compassion for others and ultimately miss His passion for His kingdom. Instead of praying for the whole earth to be full of His glory (Psalm 72:19) and praising Jesus for ransoming people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 7:9), we may keep our eyes focused on ourselves and reserve our prayers for our own concerns and the needs of those close to us.

Of course there is hope, lots of hope. God pursues us and wants to open our eyes to the things that matter most to Him, which includes but is not limited to the person each one of us sees in the mirror. Mission trips and other cross-cultural experiences push us out of our comfort zone. They bring us face to face with the reality of our own self-centeredness and His invitation to trust Him and see ourselves and the world through His eyes. Many missionaries, struggling to raise support or master language and culture, come to the end of their own resources to find God will provide … and not just for their own sake (though He is serious about blessing them) but for the sake of His name among the nations.

What does it look like to see the world through God’s eyes? In Let the Nations Be Glad John Piper put it this way:

“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshippers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.”

This summer, do you need a reminder of God’s heart for the world? What about a refresher to help you share it with others? Pick up Lewis’s book or Piper’s, or turn directly to the scriptures and ask God to show you the golden thread of His plan and purposes in redeeming the peoples He created. For a do-it-yourself Bible study, you might explore a collection of more than 500 Bible verses about God’s heart for the world at

Can I Use My Skills on the Field? Yes, and…

Most of the correspondence that comes to is from prospective missionaries. Some are just trying to find out what missionaries go through. How do they know they’re supposed to do this? What do they later wish they’d known from the start? How did they prepare? What kind of training do missionaries need? What would keep someone from succeeding?

Often readers ask question about whether or not they can use specific skills. They are looking for ways to make the most of the experience and training they have already or are presently pursuing. Since cross-cultural workers come in all shapes and sizes and serve in any way you can imagine, we and the friends who answer these questions tend to begin replies with “yes!”

Yes: there’s a place for you in God’s global mission. Yes, people like you have found jobs, and agencies, and teams of supporters to stand with them. Yes, the things you do now are needed somewhere else. You can probably find national partners to link arms with who deeply value the contribution you can bring (and bring out in them).

Yet anyone with much mission experience tends to discover something more. Serving in mission often means laying down your own agenda. It means doing things you’ve never done before and adapting to circumstances beyond prediction or control. Yes, you may use that degree (and discover what you really need are the persistence and problem-solving skills you picked up in getting it). Yes, you will discover that God does not waste your life experience (and also lead you down paths you never expected).

Yes, there’s a place in missions for people like you… and people like me, too.

Meet the M-DAT Team

David Armstrong co-founded M-DAT and is now the Executive Director. Previously he served as short-term mission coordinator at OC International. David, his wife Mary, and their family also spent 15 years in Colombia and Guatemala as field missionaries with OC International. The Armstrongs have three grown children and six grandchildren. David serves on the steering committee for Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

David and Mary have relocated to St. Louis, Missouri this summer (see below). If you’d like to hear from them on a more personal level, please sign up to receive their (paper) newsletters.

Gratitude and Prayer

Thank you for praying!

  • Supporters: Praise the Lord for the many who continue to financially support and
  • Transitions: We thank God for the quick transition to a new house in St. Louis for our Director and his wife.

Please pray for …

  • Mission Trips: Lift up the many who are overseas on mission trips right now that they would more deeply understand God’s compassion for all peoples.
  • Our Team: We’d appreciate prayers for the M-DAT team as we complete the move to all of us working from home. It brings cost savings and some efficiencies, but also brings coordination and communication challenges. Three of us are also moving to new houses this month!
  • Technology: Pray for the beta testing of a key component of the next few months. Thanks.

Celebrating 15 Years

Bringing people and missions together using internet technology

This past month M-DAT celebrated its fifteenth year of serving the Christian community by connecting people with mission opportunities. Interest in M-DAT’s web services has consistently grown over the years. Will you join us in celebrating what God has done?

A Mission Trip Search Engine?

M-DAT was founded March 31, 2000. It grew from a vision to work with mission organizations to see a cooperative resource come together that would enable people to connect with mission opportunities quickly. Peter, our co-founder, recognized the need for such a service during his senior year at university. has now seen 2.2 million visits as people have searched for ways to serve God’s church and His kingdom around the world.

Services for Aspiring Missionaries

In 2009 the ministry expanded to include, where missionaries answer questions and share about real life issues and challenges, and, a resource center for would-be missionaries. In 2014 had more than 88,000 visits and more than 180,000 page views.

Strategic Partnerships

Along the way we have partnered with scores of short-term and long-term sending agencies who use our services or contribute content, and also collaborated with ministries that equip and assist those who go.

This year, to continue our push for excellence in mission trips, we are promoting a web service that allows participants to rate their experience. was created by Amanda Jones who works for Christ for the Cities. Currently 13% of the organizations who post trips on have been rated there. We are encouraging the rest of our organizational partners to ask their short-termers to rate them there also.

Supporting M-DAT

Would you like to help expand the effectiveness of M-DAT services like and You can do so by giving through our online PayPal form. You do not need to have a PayPal account to do so. You may also send a check to M-DAT with a note to use the funds for expanding the reach of and

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