Have you ever looked forward to spring break, or summer break with almost uncontrollable anticipation, but when all is said and done and it’s back to class you’ve felt as though the whole thing was just a blur of laziness and boredom and your ready to become a productive member of society? Or maybe just perhaps you feel as though you would like to spend that time doing something more productive? More exciting? More God Honoring? If you answered yes to any of the above let me introduce you to the world of short term mission trips.
Why Short-Term Mission Trips?
- God Honoring (Obedience)
It has become almost cliché in Christian circles today in talking about discovering your call. Let me set one thing straight, I will not refute a specific call on an individual’s life, but we can be certain of this; we are all called to be to bear witness to the message of the Gospel in Word and in Deed (Matthew). Following a commandment of God is a way in which we can show Him that we love Him (1 John Chapter 1).
- Be Productive
It is hard to imagine the amount of hours that I have wasted away in front of the television, doing meaningless activities or simply doing nothing at all. Don’t get me wrong I full heartedly support down-time, we all need it, but I encourage you to look into developing a lifestyle and world-view that is determined to make a difference, however big or however small, but determined none-the-less to make an impact. In this world there is no replacement for you.
- It’s Exciting
Most all of us probably despise boredom; the endless drone of nothingness clouding our minds, making our waking hours fuzzy and unmemorable at best. Wake up and smell the java! There is more to life serving the King of Kings, then counting the cracks in the ceiling and thinking about what you are going to have for breakfast when you 62. There is a world out there groaning and hungering for the truth! Go out there and be the evidence that you are that they so desperately desire to see. I guarantee you there is nothing more exciting then being in the service of a King. You will experience things you never imagined and truly live as Christ has determined for you to live.
“Well You’ve Got Me Thinking, But I Don’t Know Where To Start”
Great question, bad excuse. You can take one of two routes in order to participate in short-term trips. It’s very simple: ‘A’ you organize your own, and ‘B’ you go with an existing organization/ministry. Let briefly outline the steps below to making either of these happen (p.s. unfortunately for sake of length this list is not exhaustive).
- Go with an Existing Ministry/Organization
I highly recommend this route. There are numerous ministries/organizations out there that offer ministry opportunities in you own backyard as well as half way around the globe. Each ministry has it’s own format and way of doing things, and I’ve narrowed the list to ones that I am familiar with and know would be an incredible opportunity to serve.
Many people do not consider the fact that they are more than capable of organizing their own trips with their friends or their youth group. We do not need to have a ministry or outreach organization to direct us to the needs of our community around us. They are all so very apparent, if you simply take a moment to stop and look. I will outline a few short steps in organizing a mission trip on your own. Again for the sake of time/length it must be brief, but please e-mail me if you have any questions, or need further ideas in any of these areas.
- Find out who wants to go Ask your friends, your friend’s friends, youth group members, bible club members, and anyone else that is possibly having the same itch that you do to get and serve. Discuss the reasons why you want to do it as a group, and pray that God would develop unity among you. (p.s. you can still do all of this on your own, but it helps to have others on your team).
- Decide the type of trip you would like to do and duration Determine whether you want to do a trip with a construction/work focus or one of outreach/evangelism and how long and at what frequency you want to do it in. These are two very broad categories so I will list some ideas/examples below:
- Construction/Work Including but not limited to: home, church, and public facilites, restoration, renovation. These are projects that will require elbow grease, strength, and most importantly the heart of a servant.
- Outreach/Evangelism These trips are trips that reach out to a direct emotional / spiritual need. Whereas the above trip can still fulfill this category (in most cases it does) but a trip like this is first and foremost concerned with this aspect. These trips might look like visiting a hospital or nursing home. Working with after school programs, prayer walks etc…
- Locate the need You can search various avenues to find where you might serve. You can contact local organizations in the area you want to serve or national ones on how you can volounteer. Hospitals, nursing homes are a good place to start, because they are always a place of great need for ministry. Local churches, suburban as well as inner-city. Many inner-city churches may already have or can get you plugged in with an existing inner-city opportunity. Listed below are some organizations that you can contact to get some info on community needs:
- Assess the resources you need and do it! The most important thing for you to do in this process is to actually do what you plan to do and not just talk about. So many of us get caught up with good intentions, but no real action. After you have selected your trip, determine what you will need, and how you will get it, and then do it! Things to consider are supplies if you are doing construction, transportation, sleeping arrangements if you will be out of town, and supervision if you are under 18. Money, food, curriculum etc… all play a factor in the planning process, but they are by no means limiting factors. Our God is Jehova Jira our Provider.
Ok, so I am already well over our length limit, but there is just so much to say. This is part 1 of a 2 part series and in the second part I will be going into more detail on the self-organized trips with some specific ideas, and action plans and resources to carry it out. With that said Christian, let me encourage you to this end, we are all called to ministry; each of us, no-one is exempt. If we respond to God’s call with love and obedience to be ministers and messengers of the Gospel the richness of your life with Christ will be blessed in a way of intimacy between you and Him as such that I cannot describe with it mere words. Missions is a dedicated means by which you can put into practice the faith that you profess in the living God; to be a doer and not just a hearer. Step out in obedient faith, to be a productive member of God’s people and you will find out how exciting a life you can live in the service of a King.