For many, including myself, summer holidays are usually packed to the rafters. Between holidays, short-term mission trips, local outreach programmes and camps – more nights are spent away from home rather than in our own beds!
This year, things are different.
Today, in a parallel universe where corona never happened, you might have been on holiday abroad or preparing for your various teams at home and abroad.
Instead, the summer stretches out before us pretty much empty.
Your holiday may have been cancelled and the mission opportunities you were anticipating may no longer be available, but these adventures can always be pursued next year.
There are however things you can do now.
You probably have more free time now than you’ve ever had in your life. Let’s make the most of it! There are beneficial things we can do here and now, some of them will bring us happiness, some of them will equip us in our spiritual journey going forward.
- Take part in Mission Minded
As you’d expect, HistoryMakers teams abroad have been cancelled this year. To keep our minds focused on mission this summer, we’ve prepared a six-week course called Mission Minded. Each short session consists of a quick video, some questions for you reflect on and answer and a focus on an area of ministry in Asia to help you pray for unreached people.
It’ll be kicking off in early July and you can sign up for this exciting new course by clicking here.
- Read, read, read
I am certain that on your bookshelf there are a lot of books you have not read. An empty summer is a perfect time to catch up on the books that you were bought for your birthday years ago, or that you said you would lend to a friend after reading it. One book I finally managed to finish during lockdown was one I first picked up to read ten years ago!
Besides getting stuck into your Bible, there are loads of great mission themed books out there. I’d particularly recommend Radical by David Platt and Finish the Mission by various authors including John Piper. Both of these have been read by our teams in the past.
Don’t just stick to spiritual books – great as they are. This is a good time to read more widely in order to be culturally informed. Being knowledgeable about current issues allows you to engage in conversations from a Christian perspective. Read about them, inform yourself, form your own opinions in light of God’s Word and be a witness.
- Ready, Steady, Cook
You maybe think you’ve already ticked this one off since you made banana bread and a sourdough loaf earlier in lockdown but there’s so much more to try. This is not about throwing together quick meals, but about taking the time to cook for pleasure. If members of your house are continuing to work from home, cooking for them can be a great way to relieve some of the pressure on them.
Food has a way of bringing people together like nothing else and learning to enjoy cooking, believe it or not, can help you to evangelise to your friends in the future. Many ministries have modelled their evangelism on bringing people together through sitting down and sharing a meal with their friends or teammates. At the moment, this isn’t quite possible – but this now you have the chance to perfect your chosen dishes so that when the time comes, you have a new way to engage in evangelism.
I’d personally recommend getting into some Asian cuisine. This is a great, and simple, korma recipe to get you going!
Also, you get to eat what you make, which is a positive by-product.
- Learn a new skill
With so much more time available, why not put it to lasting use? Switch off the games console, step away from Netflix and learn a new skill. Many have returned to guitars and pianos sitting dusty in the corner while the elite among us have tasked themselves with learning a language. Maybe like me, you are not musically or linguistically gifted, but that does not mean you cannot self-improve. Even something like learning to juggle or drawing/painting can be really satisfying when you get it right. Me, I have learned to play chess – it’s not for everyone, but I enjoy it. Find your chess.
- Find out what’s still happening
While pretty much everything that involved travel or meeting in person has been cancelled, so much has moved online. Camps and conferences are just two types of events that will be found on your screens this year. Maybe there’s an event you always wanted to attend but never could – this summer is your chance to check it out as it’s all online.
As restrictions continue to ease, it may be that more opportunities to serve and help out in your church may arise. Offer yourself up to help out and come up with ideas!
- Be socially distanced, not socially distant.
In recent weeks, we’ve been able to see people from other households again. Keep a close eye on what restrictions are in place and keep making plans to see friends. Re-establish friendships and encourage each other. All of the ideas above are things you could do with friends and some could even help spiritually deepen friendships as you read and reflect together.
Your summer is not a lost cause. It is just different than expected, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. This is an opportunity to take advantage of a slower pace to life. Use it to prepare yourself for when the hustle returns.