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So You Want to Go on a Missions Trip? (Part 6)

Posted by on September 20, 2013

I think that mentally and spiritually preparing to go on missions trip is just as important as the obvious aspects of planning and fundraising. It’s easy to get really excited about a missions trip for the wrong reasons. As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, you want to make sure that you’re going for the right reasons and you have the right expectations. I’ve been on missions trips with people who completely wasted their time and money by spending all their time and energy whining and complaining and having a terrible attitude. If you’re going to go through all the effort to go on a missions trip, have the right attitude and be prepared to be flexible, gracious and stretched in some ways that may be uncomfortable for you.

1) Know & respect the culture

One thing I’ve always done when I’ve prepared to go on a missions trip is research the country and the culture. I look into the history of the country, its major religion(s), its currency, government, etc. I even try to learn a little of the language before I go. A lot of people may not go this far for a short term trip, and I probably only did this because I now know I’ve always had that special bend towards missionary life, but it always gave me a great perspective and helped me better connect with the people I served. When you aim to influence people, whether it’s teaching in a classroom, delivering an inspiring speech, creating a television commercial, or in our case, serving on the mission field, the biggest thing to consider is your audience. If you make an effort to “speak their language”, they may be more responsive to what you have to share with them.

On the same note, being ignorant about the culture of the people you are serving could actually hinder you in effectively ministering to those you came a long way to serve. Learn about their cultural norms, and even if they’re strange to you, make an effort to respect them. Find out what’s offensive in their culture. I’m really going out of my way to cover all the bases on this point, but if you go with a genuine heart to connect and serve people, it will show. The ministry you partner with will also more than likely provide you with all the basic cultural info to be aware of prior to your arrival. Things may be different, strange and even uncomfortable to you, but think of it as an adventure as you get to see and experience new things!

2) Respect the missionaries/ministry you work with

This is kind of a given, but I’ve definitely been on trips in which more than one person needed a reminder about this. Give honor to whom honor is due – these are people who have dedicated their lives to serving on the mission field. There is a lot more work and planning involved for a missionary receiving a group from the States, than for someone preparing to go on said trip. Be grateful for their willingness to host you. Clean up after yourself. Be respectful of any rules/guidelines they ask you to abide by (i.e. dresscode, curfew). Be ready and on time for scheduled ministry events. Offer to help in any way you can. Be a blessing, not a burden. In fact, try to “out bless” them during your time there. Do this and you will become the kind of person that missionaries love to partner with, and a greater blessing will be added to the experiences on your trip.

3) Have a good attitude

Be prepared for the unexpected. Things will run late. Cars will break down. Weather will affect plans. Eat whatever is put before you (unless the missionaries advise you not to) – I’ve eaten a lot of interesting things overseas, but I’ve never gotten sick on a missions trip. Challenge yourself to not complain about anything, and be willing to serve and be flexible no matter what. Don’t miss out on what God wants to do in and through you by having a bad attitude.

On my second missions trip to Africa, I arrived at the airport only to find out that my bags had been lost. I had to buy all the necessities I had lost. Other Americans I met on my trip gave me clothes to wear that didn’t fit. I had to hand wash my clothes everyday. We didn’t always have electricity. We didn’t always have water, and when we did have water, it was ice cold. It was ridiculously hot and humid and I slept under a mosquito net at night. But you know what else? It was the best missions trip I had ever been on and it was that trip that made me immediately know I wanted to go back to Africa when I decided to become a missionary – all because I decided that I wasn’t going to have a bad attitude.

4) Spend time in prayer

Things are just always better when you pray. Pray about your trip and the people you’re going to serve. If you’re going with a church group, they may schedule group prayer times, but even then, spend some personal time in prayer about your trip. You can pray for safety in your travels and the ability to have a good attitude, but prayer can also prepare your heart to love people you have never even met. Pray for divine connections with people. Pray for favor. Pray about what you have to offer. Don’t wish for it to a life-changing experience – pray and expect for it to be. I’ve found that on every single trip I’ve been on, even though I’m the one who is there to minister, God uses the people I minister to to be a blessing to me. Give and it will be given back to you. That’s what happens on a missions trip. Expect God to do big things and He will. I would also recommend bringing a journal on the trip so you can record all of your experiences.

Next week I’ll be closing out this series with some last thoughts about missions, including how you can be involved in missions outside of going on a missions trip.

Related Posts:
So You Want to Go on a Missions Trip? (Part 1)
So You Want to Go on a Missions Trip? (Part 2)
So You Want to Go on a Missions Trip? (Part 3)
So You Want to Go on a Missions Trip? (Part 4)
So You Want to Go on a Missions Trip? (Part 5)
So You Want to Go on a Missions Trip? (Part 7)

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