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Intersection of Life and Faith

Take a Missions Trip

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2002 1 Mar
Take a Missions Trip
People are in need all around you. Taking some time out to serve them through a special project is an effort that can bless both them and you. You could either travel overseas or help out right in your own community, constructing buildings, teaching children, conducting medical clinics, cultivating agriculture, and more. Any type of missions trip that fits your interests and talents well has the potential to enrich lives. But the key to success is preparing well.

Here are some ways you can prepare for your missions trip:

  • Ask God to show you what type of missions trip is best for you. Some people do well with a tour overseas, and others do better taking some time off to devote to a missions project closer to home. Think and pray about what you would like to contribute to others and how you hope to grow yourself as a result.

  • Be realisitic. It may sound exciting to trek through the Andes mountains or work long hours in the sweltering African sun, but if you're not physically able to handle that, choose a project that suits you better. Consider what type of living conditions you're willing to endure (food, sleeping arrangements, bathroom facilities, etc.) Also consider when the best time is for you to devote to your missions trip. Check with your family and employer to make sure that you can work your trip in well with your ongoing responsibilities. Most missions trips last from about four days to about two weeks. Plan your finances, too, so that the cost of the mission trip doesn't put you in debt.

  • Research the details of potential mission trips, and thoroughly check out the groups organizing the trips. Watch out for scams, and know what types of support you can expect before you sign up for a trip. Consider traveling under the auspices of an established missions or denominational organization that can help you effectively handle all the details involved.

  • Obtain required immunizations and visas in plenty of time, and always travel with a current passport. Find out how much baggage you'll be allowed to carry. Purchase good walking shoes, and plan your wardrobe according to the climate and dress code for your particular trip. Don't pack anything that you can't afford to lose.

  • If you're packing any items to donate to local people once you arrive, take only those items that missionaries or people from the group organizing your trip have requested to meet specific needs. And remember to donate items of good quality; if you wouldn't use it yourself, don't take it.

  • Prepare your personal testimony of how God has worked in your life so you'll be ready to respond when people ask you why you've taken the missions trip.

  • Study the culture and language of the place you're planning to visit.

  • Pray for God to give you flexibility, openness, a spirit of servanthood and teamwork, and a desire to learn. Expect to encounter surprises and be stretched by your upcoming adventures. Seek to rely on God's grace to help you handle all situations. Set a goal of building good relationships with all the new people you'll meet - those on your missions team, your hosts, and the local people you come to serve - no matter what circumstances you encounter. Cooperate with others, respect their differences (without implying that your country or your ways of doing things are better), and always thank them for their hospitality. Invite local people to teach you new things, such as how to make a native craft. Show genuine interest in their daily lives.

  • Remember safety rules for food and water. Find out about the quality of local water on your trip and never drink unhealthy water or use it for ice, to mix in tea or lemonade, or for brushing your teeth. Use purified water instead. Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat and fish, most milk products, salads and fruit you can't peel (such as berries and grapes). Choose fully-cooked food that's served hot, breads, and fruit you can peel (such as bananas and apples).

  • Bring a journal to record your experiences each day during your trip.

Adapted from Successful Mission Teams: A Guide for Volunteers, copyright 1999 by Martha VanCise. Published by New Hope Publishers, Birmingham, Al., www.newhopepubl.com, 1-800-968-7301.

Martha VanCise has served alongside her husband Dave as a missionary to Haiti, directing an interdenominational mission support organization. She also has extensive experience working with missions volunteers on numerous trips.

Have you ever taken a missions trip? If so, what was the experience like for you? How did God use the experience to help you grow as a person? How were you able to help the people you went to serve? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.

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