by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2011
In our conversation, Chris conveyed his disappointment that he didn’t get to witness to others on his first mission trip. Though promoted as a “ministry” trip, which in his mind meant an opportunity to share the Gospel in some format, in reality all the focus centered on building homes (one room wood structures) for the people in Mexico who were living in makeshift cardboard houses and tents of tarpaulin. His comment reminded me of Jacob, Rachel and Leah in Genesis 29. Jacob invested his time, focus and manual labor in agreement for a wife of his affection only to become married to a less desirable woman. Similarly Chris devoted his time to attend pre-trip meetings, concentrated on cross-cultural training and intercessory prayer, and raised finances to subsidize his expenses for the trip. Also like Jacob, he experienced frustration and discouragement when his expectations were not realized.
Leaders, let’s be up front and transparent when advertising our mission trips. If the sole purpose will be completing a work project, then publicize it in that manner. By communicating authentic details, you give those who have a passion to verbally share about Jesus the freedom to opt out before they become too vested, and allow them to participate on a mission trip better suited for fulfilling their God-given hearts’ desires. The same applies for medical, humanitarian, technical arts or other special focused trips.
If evangelism opportunities are scheduled for the mission trip, do your best to make sure the team can experience them. For instance, if your men’s team is constructing dorms at an orphanage, encourage each member to put down his hammer and spend time swinging a child for a while. This may be the only occasion the youngster will encounter a Godly male figure. Remember, a building won’t last forever, but a saved soul lasts for eternity.
We know that flexibility is a key characteristic for all team members because even the best of plans can be thwarted by outside forces. If you absolutely cannot fulfill your promise to allow time to share the Gospel while you are in the mission field, then, leaders, please be truthful in your communication to the team. Turn this “less than” circumstance into a teachable God-moment and positive outcome.
KESHER TIP (connection): Trip Octane Levels
According to How Stuff Works.com, “The octane rating of gasoline tells you how much the fuel can be compressed before it spontaneously ignites.” Mission trips can be pretty explosive depending on the ministry focus, team member maturity, cross-cultural exposure, travel experience and many other factors closely packed together over a short amount of time. That’s why it’s a good idea to assign intensity levels to your mission trips. Some things to consider are the length of trip, location, ministry expectations, housing type, team requirements, and leaders’ qualifications.