Four Tips for Going on Your First Mission Trip
Maybe you are sitting in church one day when a missionary comes to speak. They tell heart-wrenching stories about the place where they live and work and when you see the passion in their eyes for the culture they are invested in, you feel like you too are falling in love.
Maybe it happens over coffee with a friend who recently came home from three months serving at a mission’s organization overseas as she wraps you in tales of hardships, miracles and children's smiles.
Your heart starts beating faster and your mind starts racing with possibilities.
Could I do that? Could I be the one to go?
The answer my friend, is yes. Yes you can.
I went on my first mission trip when I was sixteen and it radically shaped my life. I am still seeing the impact of that trip, even though it happened so many years ago. I firmly believe that anyone who has any desire at all should go on at least one mission trip. It gives you a broader perspective of the world and the people in it. So if you are ready to venture out into the world to experience God like never before, here are a few tips to help you get started.
>> Pray: If you do not know where else to start, this is a perfect place. Ask God to lay a country or a group of people on your heart to pray for. Ask Him to put opportunities into your path to go overseas. Also, begin to ask God to prepare your heart for the journey.
>> Ask: If you do not already have a mission trip in mind, the best place to start is with a friend or family member who has been on a mission trip before. Sit down with them and ask about their experience and whether they would recommend the same trip or organization to you. Another great place to check with is your church, especially if they have a missions department.
>> Grow: So you have found the perfect trip and you are all set to go on this grand adventure. But then there is one other thing to worry about, the money. Plane tickets are expensive. The cost for many overseas trips can seem impossible, but trust me, with God, this is totally possible. Pray about how you want to fundraise and then start asking people to invest in you. This is where you can be creative. I have done everything from speaking at churches to bake sales to garage sales to dessert parties. The journey really begins here, trusting God with getting you there. I have seen incredible growth in my life through trusting God with fundraising. Don’t miss out on this important part of the process. Plus, it helps people invest in your trip and serve others through you.
>> Go: One of the most important things I tell people before they go on a mission trip is to leave their expectations at home. The mission field may not be anything like what you expect. But if you step off that plane with a flexible attitude and an open heart, anything is possible. Let the Holy Spirit do the work, and may you remain a mere vessel of love, grace and kindness - a living testimony of a great God.
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. -James 1:27
One thing I have learned from going on several mission trips and serving as a missionary for a year is that, many times, I gain way more from serving overseas then I am able to give. I have had Christians in other countries challenge and encourage me way more than I ever expected.
Know that this might be the case for you as well. You might be going to love on orphans, but they might teach you way more about love than you ever thought possible. This is one of the most beautiful things about missions to me. People who live on the other side of the world are able to meet and love on each other with the love of Christ and change each others lives for the better.
Have you already been on a mission trip? What is some great advice you received before going on your first mission trip?
// image one courtesy of Amanda Goodroe // image two via