by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2011
“We’re here! Where’s the lumber?” exclaimed Chris’ mission team. It is frustrating to show up after sitting on a plane for hours and eager to begin work on the mission project when the supplies are nowhere to be seen. Besides the small window of time, there is the added aggravation that an internationally comparable Home Depot or Walmart is miles away from your project site.
Everyone agrees that flexibility on a mission trip is essential, but it doesn’t have to be at the hand of poor planning. In Chris’ case, the misfortunate situation could have been averted by working with a trusted organization in the destination country or by sending an experienced team member a few days ahead of the group to ensure the construction supplies arrive on location.
Leaders, it’s good to have a Plan B already worked out long before the day of trip departure. If you know you are arriving during hurricane season, there’s a good chance your mission endeavor could be rained out. Or maybe due to last minute government crackdown, your materials might be delayed in customs. Discuss worst-case scenarios and strategies with your team during pre-trip meetings. In doing so, members won’t be taken by surprise and can quickly put your Plan B into action with confidence and unity. Also, in advance of your trip, discuss with your national hosts some potential alternative assignments that could utilize the team’s talents and strengths if your Plan A doesn’t materialize.
“Human plans, no matter how wise or well-advised, cannot stand against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30 NLT) That’s what we call “Plan G” – God’s plan. When you experience resistance or bumps in the road on your mission trip, the first thing you should do is circle up the team to pray. Seek God to provide the breakthrough for the obstruction or the redeployment plan for His greater purpose. The Lord wants to use these situations to help team members discover something about themselves and expand their faith. Additionally, there is an indescribable joy in knowing that you have become the answer for a previously unknown but now immediate need.
KESHER TIP (connection): Forewarned is Forearmed
Register your mission group with the U.S. Department of State through the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). Your trip coordinator may opt to receive updates on travel warnings, travel alerts and other information for a particular country that can be beneficial to your team’s logistical and spiritual trip preparation. Click here for more details: Travel.State.Gov