After visiting an annual youth conference, you find yourself feeling more inspired than normal. You want to get out in the “field” and make a difference in spreading the word of God across the world, as opposed to sometimes going to church on Sundays and other times just staying at home and blowing it off.
A mission trip might be exactly what you’re looking for to make a bigger impact on your faith, provide you with a bigger sense of fulfillment and purpose, and have a tangible effect on real lives around the world. According to Missiology, as first reported by Baylor University, nearly 1.5 million Christian Americans participate in annual mission trips lasting a year in length or shorter—drastically up from less than just 600 in the mid-1960s.
But before you hop on a plane, train, or bus to a foreign land, it’s important to know what taking on a mission trip actually entails. Generally, you’ll be away from friends and family for several weeks or months, in an area with some lacking modern life you’ve grown accustomed to, and will be surrounded by strangers on the same trip as you (unless you sign up with friends or know like-minded people in your church).
What Is A Mission Trip?
A short-term mission trip is a collective group of Christian community members that participate in an organized, community-service-oriented mission or project that generally happens in a foreign country, but not always. Missions usually last at least a week and can go as long as one or multiple years.
The trips are almost always service oriented: helping with construction to build a new community facility, teaching English to non-native speakers, helping with medical care or other first response care, and many more. One of the main focuses of a Christian mission trip is outreach: spreading Christianity and the story of Jesus’ life to those who haven’t heard it before, whether they are receptive to it or not.
What Should I Bring On A Mission Trip?
It all depends on where you plan to serve, but assuming you’ll be leaving the country, you need a U.S. passport for starters. Then, the climate of where you’re traveling to will largely determine what you’ll need to bring. Some common items to bring no matter your destination include:
- A Bible
- A journal
- Hand sanitizer
- A bag for dirty laundry
- Sleeping materials
- Sunscreen and bug repellent
- Appropriate clothing for mission activities and climate (a coat in cold weather areas, shorts in warm weather areas, etc.)
- A hat and sunglasses
- Other necessary items like a backpack, phone charger, mask, or book for entertainment
Depending on the country you’re traveling to, make sure you have all the necessary vaccines and shots to avoid getting sick in a foreign country. Check with your local church for a more in-depth packing list based on missions they’ve completed in the past.
Do Mission Trips Cost Money?
Though most mission trips are at least somewhat sponsored by the local church organizing the trip, many will require its missionaries to raise some funds or pay for some portion of the trip. Bring extra money if you want for spending on any souvenirs, extra food or drinks, or donate it to a worthy cause overseas.
Common ways to raise money for mission trips include advertising at church, writing fundraising letters, organizing bake sales or a fun run or walkathon, or gathering sponsorships from local businesses and corporations.
What Will I Get Out Of A Mission Trip?
A successful mission trip will have you feeling rewarded, fulfilled in your faith, and tired, but selfless. It can be difficult to be away from home for so long, but the work you’re doing on the ground on a mission trip is affecting lives that wouldn’t otherwise be affected.
The church or school you build will still be there when you leave and will be patronized by the locals. The children won’t forget the English you teach them. You are leaving a kind legacy behind as you depart from your mission trip that will stay with you and the lives you touched forever.
You will grow as a person and child of God, provide an opportunity for new ears to hear the Gospel, and if all else fails, you’ll be providing a valuable service to a community.
What Are Some Misconceptions About Mission Trips?
Uneducated people will claim mission trips have a colonial, “white savior” nature about them; that church goers go to less fortunate areas of the world to “fix” or “save” certain communities that are unfamiliar with Christianity. This paints Christianity in a bad light and couldn’t be further from the truth.
Generally, mission goers aim to be of service first and foremost. Part of the Christian faith is emulating Jesus and his life of servitude towards humanity. Providing a valuable and helpful service to a new community will not only spread kindness and make a difference in their lives but will help you become a more fulfilled person and Christian, yourself. But it’s not about you, it’s about who you are serving.
Secondly, mission goers participate in mission trips to learn. Learning about other people’s cultures can help you better understand the ways of the world and become a more well-rounded, loving, and compassionate human being. Listening to a new culture’s perspectives can connect people all over the globe, and provide you with more empathy about another particular way of life.
Third, mission goers are storytellers at heart. Teaching the Gospel to those who haven’t heard it before can reignite your faith and be a feel-good experience, but also open up their minds about a new religion and what it can do for them. Teaching parables, life lessons, Christian values, and Bible stories can help spread the world in a new area and potentially create new joy for others.
Take your faith to the next level by signing up for a mission trip today. A mission trip will allow you to:
- See parts of the world you wouldn’t see otherwise
- Spread the word of God to new audiences
- Provide valuable services to a new community
- Grow as a Christian and person
Check your local church for opportunities for mission trips on the horizon, or try looking into a travel team instead and sign up for an unbelievable and inspiring experience.