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Jungle drums beat rhythmically and a smoky haze is filled with mud-emblazoned inhabitants speaking in foreign chirruped tones and devouring indigenous fare-noir. This is the Missionaries field, or so we were led to believe. Our lens a collage of a hundred media images, grainy slides and sermons expounding the lips of a venerate preacher. Ministers and Elders speak of Missionaries in dulcet hushed tones and issue calls from the pulpit to fullfil your Holy Commission.

Assuming you have decided to embrace this fearless endeavour, be you a first-timer or an old hand, overwhelming excitement is mixed with the colonic constitution of a small child. Missionaries, welcome to God’s front line!

Let’s consider an itinerary of five helpful, but by no means exhaustive missionary tips for a safe and fun Summer Mission Trip.

Prayer

It may be obvious but as potential missionaries if we are going to set off into the wild to do things for God, we need to know that it’s His idea. Enthusiasm to ‘save the lost’ on foreign shores is admirable, but if it’s only our idea we’re in for an uphill battle. Be encouraged to spend lots of time in prayer, alone and with family.  Missionaries want to be sure it is not only the right thing to do, but that it is the right time to do it.

Where is your heart? Is it evangelical in nature or practical, breaking new ground or cementing the work done by others? Little point going to a South American ghetto if you want to build palm huts. Likewise, remember ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ so pray about how a summer mission trip fits into a bigger diverse journey. It may be just as much about family togetherness as it is preaching to strangers.

Planning

For the mission minded a summer mission trip is often about achieving the most impact both for ourselves and God. Moreover as Christians and people leaders we are often called to a particular ministry. What is your summer mission trip ministry and what tools do you need to achieve it?

It’s easy to be swept up in our thinking about what God might accomplish, but we also need to briefly step aside from the grand plan. Think about the little things like where and how to eat and sleep language barriers, money and emergency medical and travel plans. Likewise consider visas, permits and vaccinations, if not a seasoned traveler you soon will be.

Little point planning a summer mission trip if we are turned tail unable to get into the country or fall victim to dengue fever.

Peace

Because peace and peace-time for the overseas evangelist is a big thing, when thinking about your summer mission trip perhaps ask yourself two questions. Is it peacetime where I am going? And do I feel God’s peace resting on the journey? Knowing the political climate is a great place to start so some early research is wise. Consequently many of the places in most need of God’s love are those in political, religious or military turmoil.

These are not the places to go bearing only holy water and a Bible. We all want to accomplish great things in His name but likewise we want to return home in one piece. Religion no matter where you go is a touchy subject. Remember those wise words imparted from our parents to never discuss religion or politics at the dinner table.

Christ spoke about setting brother against brother (Matt 10:21) and Christianity can be divisive by its very nature and command. Some countries are closed to the idea of any sort of Christian influence and therefore can be dangerous. If you feel called to a conflict zone ensure you are convicted in your calling and that external confirmations are in place. Accordingly this is where established Missionary organisations may be of help.

When we desperately want to do something we can fall into the trap of forcing doors open. Instead allow God to open them in His Sovereignty. If it’s right God will make the path straight and we will feel God’s peace upon our planning. No matter how frightening a summer mission trip may seem, once we sense God’s peace upon it we too will feel at peace in the process.

Practicality

Remember that Missionary trips don’t have to be to darkest Africa or the depths of the Amazon, we all can’t be Dr. Livingstone or Robinson Crusoe. Moreover, charity begins at home and somewhere closer by might just be where God is calling you to. Sometimes we need to be practical.

You can be a missionary helping at a local food kitchen or even ministering from a hotel for a week. You can spread God’s word resorting in Fiji and building huts for three days. Let the Father decide. God will work with and through His people wherever they are.

Processing

Your summer adventure is done, finally your bags are unpacked and you feel renewed and exhausted. But something is different. Like warriors in battle Missionaries, you have returned from God’s front line. You are changed. Take time to process what you have become and where you have been.

You have seen things we have never seen and done things we never dreamed. Nevertheless processing that experience is important for our Spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Put in practical terms we need to get our feet back on the ground and self-care. Take time with God, family and friends and allow things to sit. Acclimatise and regroup, pray, celebrate and cry. God has done big things in and through you. You are truly blessed.

The summer mission trip is a great way for Christians, Leaders, Pastors, Teachers and would-be missionaries everywhere to spend a well earned break. It is an enriching alternative to the busy schedule of theme parks and tourist attractions. Using these five tips this summer what experience will your mission trip provide?

References: NIV Study Bible, 10th Anniv. Edn. Zondervan: 1995

Originally trained as a Minister, Andrew Jewell is a Writer, Counselor and Itinerant Christian Speaker and is the founder of Wedgetail Ministries. Andrew maintains an online blog and writes articles, prayers, parables, and reflections. Connect with Andrew: 

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