Are you planning a mission trip? Mission trips can be incredible experiences, both for the Christians that go on them and for those that are reached through missions. But before you board your flight to a third world country, there are several questions you need to ask to make sure that this is the right opportunity for you.
1. Is this mission trip for you or for God?
Mission trips have many purposes, but glorifying God should be number one (Colossians 3:17). You will be reaching out to people that are in poverty; some may have never heard the gospel before. The minute you reach your destination, (and all of the travel time before) you become an ambassador for Christianity and for Jesus Christ. Are you ready for that responsibility? And who are you going for, really? Is this trip for you or is it for God?
This may seem obvious, but praying about your mission trip opportunity is often forgotten. Many Christians get excited about mission trip opportunities, and that is a wonderful thing, but make sure to pray and ask the Lord if this is the trip for you before you sign up.
And be honest with yourself. Are you already thinking about posting all of your amazing photos from your trip on Facebook? That is probably an indication that you have yourself in mind, not God. If you are going to take this mission opportunity, get your priorities straight first.
Do you want to go on this mission trip to gain a sense of accomplishment from helping others? Serving others is an incredibly important part of living as a Christian; Jesus served others and acted as an example for us to do the same (John 13:12-14). But serving to feel good about ourselves is not the right mindset for a mission trip. That is giving yourself the glory, not God.
2. Could God be leading you to serve elsewhere?
While you are praying, as mentioned in number 1, you may realize that God has different trip planned for you or He may want you to stay at home to serve people in your own community. No matter how badly you want to go on this mission trip, you must listen to the call in your heart.
And be mindful of this: For now, forget about the deadline to sign up for the trip and wait. If God wants you to go on the trip, you will make the deadline. Now is the time to listen for your call to serve.
If you have a feeling that this trip isn’t the one, there could be another trip that would better utilize your talents. For example, if your church is going on a medical mission trip, and the sight of blood makes you woozy, this is probably not the one for you. While you don’t want to shy away from new experiences out of fear (Joshua 1:9), you should think about what gifts the Lord has given you.
And don’t be disappointed if God leads you somewhere else either. In fact, you may find that God leads you to serve in a completely different way. That’s a good thing! He knows your heart so answer that call!
3. Do you have responsibilities at home that you would not be able to meet if you were out of town?
In addition to talking to God, you need to talk to your family. Do you have responsibilities at home that cannot be filled in your absence? If you are married and have children, planning a trip away from home can be tricky so make sure your spouse is on board with the opportunity. If you and your spouse are planning to travel, can your children stay with a family member? Are you permitted to bring your children with you?
You also need to think about your job. Are you able to take the time off work necessary to travel? Be sure to talk about the logistics of the trip with your employer before you sign on the dotted line. Do you have enough paid vacation days that your finances will not take a hit?
God puts responsibilities in all of our lives that need to be met. Ensuring that your responsibilities will be met while you are away is an important, though sometimes tedious, part of the planning process.
4. Do you know the needs of the area where you are traveling?
After your period of prayer, listening to God and thinking about the logistics of traveling, you may find that you truly feel called to go on the mission trip. How exciting! Now is the time that you do your research. Prepare for your trip by learning about the culture
and customs of the people where you are going.
You will want to go into your trip prepared to do exactly what God is asking of you. So find out the needs in the country or area that you will be traveling. Learn as much as you can about the region’s issues and what you can do during your time there to meet people’s needs.
When you know what those needs are, take action. Are you going to an area that is miles away from a medical facility? They may need bandages and simple medical supplies. Start a collection at your church or at work if your employer allows it.
Again, remember number 1. You are going for God, so be prepared to represent Christ in the best way. People will be leaning on you for support and you must be ready to help them. It will be beneficial to everyone if you have an idea of how to help before you arrive.
5. Are you willing to share with others what you experience?
This is the final kicker and it’s an important one. Yes you are going on this mission trip for God, not for yourself or other people. But part of glorifying God is telling people about the experience when you return home. And no, I do not mean posting pictures on Facebook of the cute kids you will surely encounter while you’re doing the Lord’s work.
Be willing to talk to friends, family and church members about what you did, saw and heard during your trip. But take it beyond surface level. Really delve down and explain why you felt called to serve and what it was like to serve God in such a meaningful way.
If you’re not a talker, that’s not a problem. Keep a journal while on your trip. You can then take excerpts from your journal and send them out in a newsletter or e-mail to friends and family. Sharing your experience does two very important things: It educates people about a different part of the world and inspires others to serve the Lord as well.
So that’s it. You have felt the Lord’s call and it is time to answer. Sign up for the trip and do as Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 28:19-20. “Therefore go and make disciples
of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Publication date: October 10, 2014