5 Tips for a Safe and Fun Summer Mission Trip

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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Fund Raising in the Christian Community

I am sitting at my desk with five tidy form letters that I have been trying to avoid all day. Each letter is from a young person from my church or from our local Christian community. Uniformly the letters begin with the past – ‘what God has done in my life’ over the years, followed by the plans each person has for the summer – short-term missions, time at a youth camp, joining a local para-church organization – and finally a plea for prayer and ‘if God puts it on your heart’ a donation.

As I read these letters my heart is wrenched. Some of these young people have graduated from my Sunday school class! They are all very dear to me. Each has a valid claim that, given the chance he or she will make an immense impact on our world. Given the right environment, coaching, and yes, financing, each will be a positive participant as we work together to ‘make disciples of all nations’.

The heart wrenching begins when I realize that, for these young people to meet the requirements of their organizations or mission boards, they will send out hundreds of these letters to members of their Christian families. Once a letter is received, the potential donor has two possible choices to free up funds for the new request: decrease his donations to others or reduce his personal spending. (One young person suggested to me, ‘you should work more, make more, and give more!’) Barring these options, the potential donor must make an uncomfortable call to the young person and explain why he cannot make a donation.

I was brought up in a church that really believed in ‘faith missions’. When I wanted to go on mission trips to the northern regions of Canada, I would work, save my money and go. Occasionally an individual would quietly slip me a few dollars but there was never any formal fundraising. Today, however, there is a startling shift in the way that things are done and it has spawned an alarming attitude among our young missionaries. Along with the strong and sincere desire to share the Christian gospel with the world, there is a sneaking sense of entitlement that suggests that all requests should be met with an immediately outpouring of abundant funding.

Of course there is scriptural precedence for the sharing of funds. Paul is profuse in his praise for the generosity of the church that has given to other churches to meet the dire needs of some of their members, and for the donations they have made for his personal needs (2 Cor. 8:10). At the core of the Christian message is the theme of love that demands sacrificial giving. Christ is our example and He sets the high standard for each of His followers. However, I am having a hard time finding a platform in scripture for the fundraising structures that seem to have become pillars in our Christian churches.

I have interviewed countless Christian youth workers who will spend up to 60% of their time ‘raising their support’. This means that some of the support raised is being spent on raising support! When I suggest that the young person take on a part-time job that would occupy them for the 60% of their time allowing for the balance of his time to be spent on his desired mission, I am told that this is not permitted by the mission organization.

Another alarming attitude is that work is being divided into secular and missional. Young people who earn salaries at city pools or in local fast food restaurants are perceived to be less spiritual than those who raise their funds and work in Christian organizations. This calls into question the command that we are to be ‘salt and light’ regardless of our location or occupation. Is it possible that the Christian burger-flipper will make a greater impact for God’s kingdom without taxing the members of his or her church than the young person who raises funds and goes on a missions trip to a far away land?

Most of our large North American cities find themselves sitting at a crossroads of humanity – much like Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. There are people from almost every country of the world within walking distance of our homes. I find it curious that occasionally young people who have shown little interest in the foreigners around them are suddenly drawn to developing countries to share the gospel. I learned from my time in West Africa that it is much easier to share the gospel there than it is at home in North America.

Because of these various challenges and due to the increasing number of request we have received, our family has developed a policy that has permitted us to filter some requests and to redirect others. The four points include:

1 – We will match funds put up by an individual. If a person is truly committed to the mission, he will not be averse to investing some of his own resources.

2 – It must have a humanitarian element. The gospel has not changed but the way it is delivered should be adjusted. There are real needs in our world; some are medical, educational, nutritional, and judicial. It is important, now more than ever, that Christians present themselves not as proselytizers but as purveyors of hope.

3 – It must be a sustainable enterprise. Too many short-term projects are abandoned before they are completed. The funding that was poured into these projects is a waste of resources and is a bad example to those we are trying to help.

4 – It must be a project that is a continuation of the individual’s life mission, (e.g., a doctor who is going to practice medicine in the developing world, a social worker who wants to start a women’s shelter, a student who is studying teaching who wants to continue the development of her skills in a foreign land …)

There is no doubt that God has His ways and purposes and that His ways are so often beyond our understanding. However, in the areas where He has given us understanding and with the resources He has entrusted to us, we must act prudently and as goods stewards.

The followers of Jesus all became missionaries. Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Message about Jesus. Acts 8:4 (The Message)

James Watts is the principal of Education Plus High School in Montreal. As a teacher he won the Prime Minister of Canada’s Award for Teaching Excellence. He is the parent of two young adults, a regular contributor of articles to the Montreal Gazette and author of two books: Happy Parent – a novel about parenting teens and 99 Grandparents – A story about family and adoption. He and his wife Kim lived for two years in West Africa. In his spare time he runs marathons and competes in triathlons!