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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60+ performers, 12 nations, 8 languages, 1 song

Psalm 117: A Global Music Video

Gregory Fish, Creative Media Designer, GNPI

There are lots of projects that get me excited, but this one was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This music video is one of my proudest creative achievements to date.

You could say that it was 20 years in the making. I wrote this song from the shortest chapter in the Bible when I was in high school. My band used to play it occasionally in youth group, but we didn’t do too much with it. Years later I ended up recording it myself in a home studio project, but I didn’t really like how it came out. Now fast forward to a couple of years ago.

I work as the video editor for the U.S. office of GNPI (www.gnpi.org). We have video-savvy people in strategic places all over the world. My fun little song says, “Praise the Lord all you nations…” It seemed like the perfect time to use the song to the fullest potential, using the vast network of international producers now at my disposal! I pitched the idea to our creative team and then to the executive team. It was a big project. Some called it EPIC! After nearly a year of planning, six months of work from 12 nations and eight languages around the world, this music video is now being released!

We hope it brings smiles to many faces and a small glimpse of Revelation 7:9, “…a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.”

 
If you like the video, would you help us by sharing it with your friends? We’ve also created a behind the scenes video with details about those who participated in the project. If you’d like to see more of that backstory, check out this short video:

Why Aren’t We Taking the Digital Mission Field Seriously?

By Phil Cooke

Source: PhilCooke.com

Since Facebook passed the billion member mark about a two years ago, it’s become (by population) the 3rd largest country in the world – somewhere between the United States and India. In that scenario, the question for the Church becomes “Who’s sending missionaries to that country?” Or “Who’s planting churches in that country?” Certainly many churches, ministries, and their leaders have a social media presence, but are we really thinking deeply about how we can engage this new “digital mission field” with our message?  Other than trying to amp up our “likes,” how many organizations have a strategic plan for evangelism through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?

I believe it’s time to shift from primarily thinking about missions in terms of geographical boundaries, and start thinking in terms of digital boundaries.  What do you think? From my perspective, that’s a massive country just waiting to hear our message. Why are we sitting on the sidelines?

Any ideas out there for making that happen?

 

Solar Kits Take Christian Media to the Hardest to Reach Areas

By Gregory Fish

Source: gnpi.org

Imagine you are a missionary trying to reach people deep in the jungles of the Amazon. Many can’t read, and sharing the Gospel visually is a challenge because electricity is scarce to non-existent. This was the case for David Gonzalez and his partners, just one of similar scenarios all over the globe. If only there was an innovative way to help nationals and missionaries use media resources in their evangelism efforts!

There is. The GNPI Solar Kit is a lightweight, easily portable projector powered by the sun. Solar Kits are taking the Gospel places never before thought possible. Thanks to the donations of generous people, now David can take his brand new Solar Kit with him as he travels down the Amazon by canoe. Moving images that are commonplace for us, captivate and engage all audiences in remote places. The testimonies seem limitless, but one early adopter of this technology once said:

“I used to have 40 or 50 people come for preaching services and baptisms were few. Now I have between 500 and 600 people come and baptisms are in the hundreds.”

GNPI’s regional center in the Philippines wrote recently that they will be converting all their material (previously released on DVD) to play from SD cards on the Solar Kit. This is so pastors in the typhoon affected area of Culion, Palawan, can take turns using this resource where electricity still has not been restored.

The first Solar Kits at GNPI were audio-visual packs that powered film-strip projectors. They evolved over time to support VHS, DVD, and now feature micro-projectors. In over more than three decades, about 400 Solar Kits have been mobilized to nearly 50 countries throughout the world.

solarkit_countries_d

The Kits are customized to meet the needs of specific regions in the world. In India, for instance, the Solar Kit utilizes a popular built-in TV, while the projector-style kit comes in a waterproof case that, when opened, doubles as a small screen. Many project media on a wall or a sheet.

Donate Now

Donate Now

GNPI planned to raised funds to mobilize 100 Solar Kits in 2013. With God’s help that goal was surpassed – 132! The cost to assemble and mobilize an entire kit is $1000, but donations of any size can help these powerful ministry tools become a reality for missionaries like David Gonzales.
Your investment could be part of a life-changing story!

Little Acorns: Great Works All Have to Start Somewhere

Source: WeAreWorship.com

Jackie Pullinger has worked alongside drug addicts and gang members in Hong Kong’s infamous Walled City, putting herself in great danger and seeing God move in miraculous ways. You could be forgiven for thinking that her life is a little different from our own, but turn the clock back and there’s a challenge we can all respond to.

Jackie decided that she wanted to become a missionary while she was in Sunday School, despite the fact that she was a little unclear about precisely what a missionary was. As she grew up, however, her childhood ambition took a back seat and she found herself studying at the Royal College of Music. 

Then came the dream. 

“I saw,” says Jackie, “a vision of a woman holding her arms out beseechingly as on a refugee poster. I wondered what she wanted: she looked desperate for something. Then words moved past like a television credit: what can you give us?”

The ambition and passion was back, nagging, prodding and generally refusing to let her settle. Jackie knew that she had to take God’s calling seriously and head off. But how? 

Rejected by every missionary group she could think of, she turned to church organizations and even the Hong Kong government. All said she lacked too much: age, experience and qualifications. 

She was about to give up, when the vicar of a church she helped in told her, against the wisdom of everything else she had heard, to go to Hong Kong anyway. So she did.

What followed were months of difficulty as she struggled to find ways of expressing her faith and matching her passion with the needs of the people around her. To follow the miracles and difficulties that have punctuated the last four decades you need to read her biography ‘Chasing The Dragon’. But if you want the short message, here it is: Jackie wasn’t called to become ‘famous’, she was called to be obedient. It’s great for us to dream, but what counts is how we respond.

True Story: One Hashtag That Changed My Life

There are two reputations that surround the use of a hashtag. People either love them or hate them. Those that “love” them most likely enjoy hashtags because they have seen them be effective while pursuing their social media journey. The people that “hate” the use of hashtags are usually people who judge them based on the way they appear, or even worse – they imagine a typical hashtag user as a creeper who has overused them to the extent that they don’t even use real sentences to describe what they are saying anymore. Fortunately, I have no ignorant opinion about the use of hashtags and their role in our social media and am able to admit that I, too, get annoyed with the hashtag over-user. Though I typically am pretty neutral about the question of whether hashtags are vital, I have now begun to believe that hashtags are more than ever able to change the world. Here is why:

Well, if you know me, you know I am both a lover of social media and of music artistry. Oh yes, I said music artistry. Not just a performance, but the art that goes into making a great song. I enjoy making music, creating melodies, and watching others do the same. It has become a pretty wild and fun passion. My passion is so big that I, of course, have my own social media outlets that are dedicated to my very own musicianship. What is even more worth noting is that social media has helped me to capture AMAZING opportunities. I could go on and on about what kinds of doors social media has opened for me as a musician, but there’s one recent door I want to specifically talk about.

Let me set the stage for you: Last week I get booked to go lead worship and help with a community service project in the country of Haiti. I go. After the trip is over, I post a picture collage of all that happened on Instagram before I fly away on my return flight. It reads: “#Haiti has been amazing! Heading home tomorrow after having helped to build a home, led worship, and made new friends! So much fun!” Within 30 minutes I have a response from a Hatian community project who is asking me to volunteer for 2 weeks out of the next, upcoming summer. Can you say—music sessions for 14 days!? Yes. And it’s all because of my inconvenient, but not annoying use of a hashtag. I broke the conventional usage rule and I stuck that thing in the very beginning of what I had to say. I didn’t wait till I had written what I had to talk about (even though I do this at times) to then go about hashtagging. I did it differently and I did it the way that it typically works for me. And now I’m headed to Haiti to start a music revolution next summer! Well, I haven’t gotten that far yet, but a girl can dream right?

With all this being said, I must admit that the more I use hashtags the more I stand to be amazed by how they truly connect us with key influencers that have to do with whatever we’re discussing. I encourage you to highlight what you’re saying and not be just another quiet voice when it comes to the topics you are posting about. Use hashtags to make your thoughts and ideas reach more people than ever. What do you have to lose? Even more, use them in unconventional ways and make whatever social media outlet you use a social place that will promote opportunities to be shared. That’s what I’m doing and my life is literally a remarkable wonder because of it!

The Global Gospel- A Visual Life of Christ

We featured Good News Productions, International on CMM a while back to highlight their Project NOMaD (read post). Their ongoing project entitled “The Global Gospel- A Visual Life of Christ” is also extremely noteworthy.

The Global Gospel is a video series distributed in a three-disc DVD set that presents the story of the life of Christ using illustrations and narration directly from the Bible. Each disc in the set is organized for ease of navigation so that viewers can jump to specific stories or portions of scripture. The life and teachings of Jesus Christ come alive in these beautifully illustrated video stories with dramatic readings of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The artwork, painted by renowned illustrator Paula Nash Giltner, provides remarkably detailed images to support the media presentation.

The really neat aspect of all of this is contained in the vision. The Global Gospel series was designed and created to be easily adapted for use around the world. The videos can be shared with people in nearly every tongue, tribe, and nation by simply recording and replacing the English narration with a multitude of different languages! The ultimate goal of The Global Gospel project is to produce the series in every language in the world, so targeting the top 25 languages is a great starting point. Using distribution strategies that include a unique Solar Kit designed for showing videos in remote locations, this visual life of Christ video series can be shown even where electricity is not available.

Whether you want to order a copy in English to use in your ministries, or if you want to consider sponsoring a language individually or as a church, or even if you would want to become a producer, joining the network of production partners for a specific language or people group:

GO ON OVER TO www.theglobalgospel.org for more information!

Pinterest Crafters on a Mission

What if I told you there can be spiritual significance to using Pinterest? (Was that a collective sigh of relief I just heard?)

I’m here to tell you that, yes – ladies and gents, all that pinning can be put to valuable use for a host of reasons with eternal value.

For instance, a group of  friends has a challenge which calls for resourcefulness on a tight budget (A.K.A. our church Mission Conference). Our objective is to pull together a meeting between some of our missionaries and the women of our church for the express purpose of strengthening our partnership in the gospel.

“How do strengthening gospel bonds and Pinterest work together?”

Here’s how:

  1. Pinterest provides endless ideas on how to put on budget-friendly, beautiful parties.

Our event needs to send a message that this gathering is special; something set apart from other days and a break from the way we usually do things. Does that sound like a party to you? It does to me!  The best part about it is that our whole team can look at the same board for planning purposes so that you don’t waste precious time trying to relay with 1,000 words what one picture on Pinterest can easily explain!

  1. Pinterest is a fountain of visual resources flowing straight from the minds of the most creative people online.

Our event needs to be memorable. The message at the heart of our event is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to package that message so sweetly that we clearly highlight Him.  Even though the gospel speaks for itself, we all need tangible, bold ways to keep that truth in the forefront of our lives.   Many times I end up pinning just the fresh solution I was looking for…without having to reinvent the wheel.

If a craft project leaves a gospel imprint on someone’s mind, does it have eternal value? I think so.

If a party points folks toward knowing and serving Jesus better, is God pleased? I do believe.

So there you have it, folks. When crafters set out on a mission which happens to be The Mission, I would venture to say,

“Go forth & pin to the glory of God.”

Oh, I can hear it now, “Pinning is my new ministry!”

{There’s a tempting thought…}

UPDATE: Would you like to see the finished products?  Check out how it all came together in our Ladies’ Mission Event,  “Connected Cafe” .


Kerry Messer is a wife and home-schooling mother who shares her life, faith, and experiences through her blog, www.plentyplace.com.

Forced Media Fast

by Gregory Fish

I'm a person who you could say is "wired". I'm constantly connected to the internet. My devices chirp when I have a certain type of notification. I like to keep my email inbox at zero. You don't have to be a tech junkie like me to realize that it's good every once in a while to disconnect in order to reconnect with others and with yourself and God, for that matter.

I was able to have what you might call a "forced media fast." I went to visit my sister in Las Vegas, and then proceeded to join up with her church group on a Mexico mission trip. Talk about going from one world to another!

The Vegas Strip is an over-saturated media frenzy, with a steady stream of advertisements clamoring for your attention on gigantic screens, whose razor sharp images stand in stark contrast against the dark desert sky. It's a place where glamor and visual stimuli is delivered in excess and you run the risk of over-dosing. I left this place and drove to the border to spend a week covered in Mexico dust, sleeping in a tent, taking daily baby wipe showers. No electricity, no phone, no iPad, no Twitter, Facebook or email, and no TV. I was completely in radio silence!

Did I miss the chirping sounds and beeps and emails and shows and news and sports (this includes March Madness). No! You'd think someone like me would go crazy without any technology around, but the weird thing is that it was refreshing to go without these forms of media for a time. Sure I was busy with other things without much time for distractions, but even in the downtimes, their absence was a welcome one. The relationships and connections with people created real and lasting memories. The tacos were great as well. Funny thing is that the people I met in person in Mexico are now my online friends too!

Now, I am back in Vegas, with all the modern amenities one could need, including hot showers. I'm slowly catching up on email and what I've missed. What have I missed? In all honesty, not much. Just my wife and kids. Maybe you should go off the grid sometime too?