Simply Insider

photoshopIn honor of our new mission trip resource, Prepare. Go. Live., we are having a little contest to see who has the best Mission Trip story. Good, Bad or Ugly, we don’t care we would love to we just want to read some great stories. Have you ever lost a kid? Had a meal you wish you could forget? Said something that was lost in translation? Saw a transformation you never thought possible? Is there a prize you ask? We are going to be giving away 3 Flip Video Cameras to the best stories (a great way to document your next trip). Just leave your story in the comments. You have until May 25th to leave your story to be eligible to win.

Are you getting ready for mission trip? Check out the new resource, Prepare. Go. Live., to help get your students ready to go, engage during the trip, and live out all they learned after. It includes 5 Prepare student journals, 5 Go student journals, 5 Live student journals, and a Leaders Guide and CD with supplemental material. It’s an awesome resource that we did in partnership with our friends at LeaderTreks.

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  • Danny Bowers says:

    We went to Mexico to build a home in the Ensenada area. I had a student (still friends with today) that was a freshman. He was always the kid who tried to do something funny at the wrong moment. Like throw a bucket of red vines over a bonfire while a student was sharing a testimony in front of the other 250 people there. Or go running through the camp at 5 am yelling “Tsunami is coming” since we were tent camping close to a beach. However the most priceless bit was I had gotten on him for his lack of work ethic and pushing the envelope on the wrong time of trying to be funny. I had him on a short leash. We were 2 days away from going back to the states and we gave the students some ‘shopping time’. Well unbeknown to me he actually talked a Mexican store owner into pretending to call police to arrest him for shoplifting a switch blade (which he had promised to buy all week). He also got another leader in on it to come find me and tell me the situation. So i walked up to the store owner & started pleading my case of why NOT to call police to him to jail and after 10 minutes of worrying & doing my best to NOT let him be arrested everyone started laughing about the joke and when the store owner cracked a smile i felt had. It was a great joke played on me that i laugh about 4 years later!

  • Nick Whittenhall says:

    I had just taken my job at my current church. Two weeks later I’m getting to know my students really well on a misisons trip to Mexico. Little did they know that the bus ride from the airport to the actual location of where were staying was a long way off…about 2 hours. One of my students…we’ll call him Steve…had to pee. He had to pee so bad that he was in pain. He was too afraid to ask to pull over (he didn’t know spanish) or to tell me or the other adult leaders. So, he pulled out his Nalgene bottle and quietly relieved himself on the bus. (By the way, this same bottle made it’s way to his younger sister who brought it another trip a couple of years later.) We only found out about this until half way through the week of our trip. About the same time we pranked him with pinatas in his shower. We heard the girl-like scream come from his room! Priceless.

  • Paul Nather says:

    Oh man, this is actually a mission trip that we try and forget, but are constantly asked to share. Far too many outrageous details to tell, so I’ll give some highlights (actually, not highlights at all). A few of us had the idea to take our entire association on a combined mission trip to Mexico. So 6 youth pastors, a number of volunteer leaders, and 90 students flew drove from North Dakota to Minneapolis and then flew to Texas to cross over to Mexico. There are not many organizations that can handle a group this size, but one (who shall remain nameless) said that they could take care of all of the details. Well, after waiting at the airport in Texas for 3 hours until we could find enough rental vans (on a Sunday afternoon), all 100+ of us (and luggage) piled into 7 vans and crossed the border. Our only task for the day was to set up our tents. We were assured that they had enough tents for us. Well, they did have enough tents, but the group before us had piled all of the tents and poles in one closet. Unfortunately (I’ll say that a lot) most of the tents were different styles and sizes. So, needless to say, it was a disaster. And that was just day one. Our mission projects were great and the students loved it, but it was a logistical nightmare. We had one outhouse for all to share, two showers, and happened to be sleeping right across the street from a disco and right next door to a tied up goat who never shut up. We had one day where we crossed the boarder back into the states for a time at the ocean and a promised “great meal.” Since there were so many of us, only a local buffet could hold us. A buffet that later that night (while back at our so-called camp) we realized had given us food poisoning. Over half of the team had to share one outhouse to rid ourselves of the misery. The next day, while still feeling ill and very tired from the neighbors, while trying to get lunch down, the owner of the goat decided that he would slaughter the goat right in front of us. He tied it up, hung it from a tree, and to the shrieks of all of the girls, slit it’s throat and skinned it right there. Enough said.
    The next day we packed up early to get to the airport in time. Unfortunately, the plane that was picking us up in Texas had not yet left from Chicago. We were on a time crunch because our charter busses were going to be picking us up in Minneapolis to drive us back to ND. After some begging a pleading with the airline, all that we got out of them was a “gift pack” for each of our team members. Inside – A ten minute phone card and a coupon for one free alcoholic beverage on the flight. Hello? Teenagers?!
    Once our plane arrived we realized that we just might make it back in time to Minneapolis. We were wrong. When we got close to the Twin Cities, the plane went crazy. I mean, serious turbulence. We’re talking, lifting people out of their seats turbulence. If the food poisoning wasn’t making the kids already puke into their little bags, the roller coaster ride did most in. It was sick. Kids were screaming. The leaders were on their last nerve. We were re-routed to Omaha as we found out that 7 tornadoes had touched down in the Minneapolis area while we were trying to land.
    We arrived in Omaha and the students got off the plane. The leaders quickly gathered to decide what to next when one of my students told me that her insulin was under the plane and she wasn’t feeling so good. Great. We had to call 911 and get medical emergency to come and treat her at the airport. In the middle of all of this, the leaders began receiving phone calls from some very anxious senior pastors. See, we forgot about the 10 minute phone cards given to our students, and they all called home to tell their parents about how they almost died in a plane crash and made an “emergency landing” in Omaha. We spend a lot of time calling parents to undo what the students had done. One of the other youth pastors spent the time calling hotels in Minneapolis to book us rooms for the night, as it was already getting late. We finally made it back on the plane and got to Minneapolis about 6 hours later than expected. We were informed that the bus drivers were waiting for us and obviously not too happy. We thought a nice night at a hotel woudl do us all some good. Once we gathered luggage and made it on the train to catch the busses, every leader took a head count. We were missing one! No one had a clue. After 1/2 hour of searching, we found him (too long of a story to tell). So we get to the busses and tell the drivers that we have a hotel booked. They inform us that they have a 10am charter leaving from back home in North Dakota and there is no way we can spend the night. Unfortunately, it was too late and the hotel wouldn’t give us a refund and had already processed the credit cards. So after some wheeling and dealing, we convinced the bus drivers to let us sleep for 4 hours and then head out early in the morning. After dropping the ladies off at their hotel (oh yeah, of course no hotel had enough rooms for all of us) the guys got to their hotel. We handed out all of the keys and everybody scattered to crash in their beds. We looked around and there were 6 of us adult men without a room. I went up to the front desk and asked if they had any more rooms or anywhere that we could sleep. He said “I have one suite that you could share, and it’s a “theme suite!” I didn’t care and took it. We all dragged our stuff down to the room. Opened the door and saw the one theme that we never wanted to see…….”WELCOME TO MEXICO!”

  • Allison says:

    We took about 20 high school students to Africa 2 summers ago and one of our girls banged her head on the side of a van giving her a severe concusion. We took her to an a “hospital” which was unlike anything I’d ever seen. She was given mess and told to stay over night. I stayed with her or one of the scariest nights of my life. Stayed awake all night keeping bugs off of her. Heard things crashing and breaking and screams all night. The next morning we practically had to steal her as they wouldn’t release her. Once we returned to where we were staying her condition worsened dramatically. She and I were the only ones there with no phone or anyway to contact anyone. I thought for sure I was going to have to explain to this kids mom how I let get die in Africa. One of our drivers came home so I grabbed her and ran outside. He took us to a scary alley way filled with homeless people sniffing glue and a doctor walks out to draw her blood in the car. Seeing it was a used needle I refused and had him get a new one. She was totally unresponsive when her blood was drawn, I was sure she was dying. They tested her blood an found she had a severe case of malaria, we believe from our stay in the “hospital”

    We gave her meds and in a few days she started coming around.
    Scariest couple of days of my entire life.

  • Matthew McNutt says:

    On my last mission trip I took a team to Uganda! One of the best parts was watching all the Americans get used to the outhouses. Somehow, one of the team members managed to drop his cell phone into the outhouse pit (seriously? how did he manage to do that???). There it was, 20 feet down, lighting up and ringing off and on the whole time we were there until the batteries died! The best was when it would go off while someone was on the seat …

  • Matthew McNutt says:

    When I was 16 I was in Bolivia. The mission leaders decided to take the 18 of us high school guys on a ‘survival hike’ through the local desert. Yup, desert. It was a hot, dry climate! It was supposed to be three days and two nights and they had the drivers drop us off in the absolute middle of nowhere. It’s the early nineties, so no cell phone or any other way to call out for help if there was a problem. We just had to hike our way back to the nearest town. Well, the leaders misjudged how much water we would all need hiking through a desert climate for three days and two nights … and we ran out. On the second day. I have never been so thirsty in my life as we trudged on all day, into the night and most of the next day!!! When we finally got to a town later in the afternoon, after about 30+ hours with no water, we slammed a local restaurant that had nothing but soda. I’ve never had so much Coca-Cola in my life! In hindsight, I can’t begin to imagine what those leaders were thinking as we marched along with no water!!!

  • Deek Dubberly says:

    Group of 30 headed to Ukraine for village ministries including VBS’s, door-to-door evangelism, renovation work at a Christian summer camp facility, and evening revival services. One of our older students boards an airplane for their very first time. Turns out he’s INCREDIBLY prone to get SEVERE motion sickness. Not an hour into our 8 hour flight he says to me, “I think I’m getting sick.” I say, “Go to the bathroom.” He replies, “Not enough time.” I frantically reach for my barf bag, hand it to him, and he shoots 50%, half going into the bag, the other half channeling off towards my legs. I raise my little blanket up as a shield and it totally works. Barf deflected! Same guy, similar stories for a solid week! Here’s just one more. We’re sleeping inside this really small, old, dingy, third-world looking home in a village somewhere in rural Ukraine. The home belonged to one of the local church members. This same guy wakes up in the middle of the night and says, “I think I’m getting sick again.” I say, “Do it outside.” He replies, “Not enough time.” So he picks up his pants were which beside his little bed-thing, and he proceeds to vomit inside his own pants. Why? To this day, I still have no idea. Oh, the smell! So he says to me, “I did it in my pants.” And I’m like, “You did what?!?” And before you know it, the home owner’s cat creeps into the room and begins to eat it out of the guy’s pants which were laying there on the floor. Problem solved…sort of. There are many, MANY more stories about this guy. For some reason, though, those two stick out. Enjoy.

  • Tony Richmond says:

    We took our high schoolers to work with the Native American community in Albuquerque, NM. One of our junior girls was hanging out with some children at the block party that we were doing in the community. She began making one of the “evangelism” bracelets (the ones with the colored beads for explaining the gospel) with one of the little girls. As they interacted and our student explained the gospel to the little girl the little girl expressed her desire to accept Jesus as her own personal Savior. Our student answered her questions and the little girl went on to receive Jesus Christ. As the two of them finished up, our student asked the little girl if her parents were at the block party. The little girl said that they were so off they went to find her parents. As they found the girl’s parents, her father was talking with one of our adult volunteers. They found out that her father had just accepted Jesus Christ as his own personal savior with our adult volunteer. What an incredible way that the Lord worked in that family’s life! The little girl and her father both accepted Jesus as their personal Savior at the same time, in different places of the block party, with different people. Praise the Lord that he allowed us to experience this awesome movement of the Holy Spirit!

  • Josh Miller says:

    I was a student leader for our mission trip to New Mexico. Our group of students worked well together except for one kid. Frankly, he was crazy and got on people’s nerves. But after a week with him, watching his determination, he became an asset and an example instead of liability to all the students in the group. I’m so glad because this made our group one of the strongest ever.

  • Chase says:

    We went to Rosarita, Mexico for a mission trip a few years ago. The weather maps showed a huge storm moving in while we were down there. We went anyways and it poured rain the night before we left, not the the greatest thing when you are sleeping in a metal roof house. The streets near the border were flooded. We were in big SUV’s and the water was up to almost the doors. A fun and muddy trip that made an impact in a lot of kids lives.

  • […] Give Us Your Best Mission Trip Story and Win a Flip Cam Chris at 3:47pm, May 18, 2009 […]

  • Dave Decker Jr says:

    This is a long story, but every bit of it is true. We were on a High School mission trip in Central America staying at a very, um… rustic camp in a rather remote location, in the southern region of Belize. It was late in the evening, and things had pretty much started to wind down for our evening and I was just making a final check on the camp grounds before I headed to bed. It was then that one of our leaders came up to me with a scared look on his face, strangely mixed with some giggles. He said ‘Joe (not his real name) got kicked…. um… in the… um…’ I knew what the ‘um’ was, and knew that getting kicked there was no treat. It seems the guys had been playing foot tag, trying to kick each other in the butt, as a way to end their day. If you can imagine a whip cracking, that is what a foot does at the end of a long leg, and Joe had spun around to avoid getting kicked in the butt, and got kicked in the, well, in the ‘ums.’ So, i went in and checked on Joe and he was writhing in pain. ‘i think i feel 2 parts, i think i ruptured it!!… its all swollen!!!’ … he managed to whisper. I didn’t know what to say, so i said i’d make some phone calls. Thank God I had the number for my urologist, who happened to be on call, and I woke him up with a series of strange questions. I explained the situation, and he said, ‘well Dave, I’ve got good news and bad news….. the good news is that its most likely just a ruptured blood vessel, not a ruptured…..’um’ and the bad news… well the bad news is that you get to do an exam tomorrow morning’ I was standing next to the RN on our trip, our medical personnel for emergencies just like this. She promptly informed me that her medical training did not exceed mine in this area, and we determined that I would in fact do the exam. After placing a call to Joe’s parents, hearing Joe’s mom on the other line laughing made me feel a little more at ease about what I had to ask permission for next. I told her what the urologist said, what he wanted me to do to ensure there wasn’t further compications coming for Joe, and asked her permission. She just laughed and gave me permission. Ugh.
    The next morning, my wife played receptionist in the small hut we were staying in, and met Joe and his adult team leader at the door. Dave will be right with you, she said. I then came out of the back of the hut wearing the short robe of the lady who owned the hut, a headlamp, and some rubber gloves. Joe, his adult family leader, and myself then quickly walked through the awkward few minutes of his exam, and as I was wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into, Joe asked….’did you ever think you’d be doing this as a youth pastor??’ To which I answered, ‘no, Joe’ There have been many times I’ve wondered that same thing, ‘how is it that i’m doing THIS as a youth pastor??’ but never quite as i did that fateful morning in Belize. Joe is doing well and has had no further complications from the situation. I filed a full incident report when i got home, and am glad we can all laugh about it still.

  • Shane Becton says:

    I took our students on an inner-city mission trip to Philadelphia. All week we had been working in homeless shelters, soup kitchens, painting safe houses, etc, We were staying in an old parsonage of a local church. Thursday was our free night and after 4 days of hard work we were ready to have fun. We all went into town, ate, shopped, laughed and begin out trip back to our lodging. We arrived back to the parsonage about 10:15 pm and I noticed the back luggage bay door on our bus was open. As I looked closer at the bus the tail lights, front mirrors, front drive lights, and front head lights were all shattered. My students began freaking out yelling gangs are trying to attack us and that this is a signal we are all gonna die. I got everyone inside and went out to call the police. I told them I needed a police officer to come out and make a vehicle vandalism report for out insurance. They asked where I was located and I gave the address. The officer said “We don’t come out to that area after 9:00 pm!” Then I started freaking out thinking this was a sign and we were all gonna die!!!

    Just kidding. We taped up the mirrors, lights, and headlights and made our way back home. I had to wait until I got back to North Carolina and fill out a report over the phone.

  • Ryan says:

    Everyone has a students like Emily in their group, or at least can imagine what it would be like if they did. This was our first Middle School Mission trip and we decided to go to Appalachia in Tennessee. We had a group of 20 middle school students and loaded into the rental vans and hit the road. About 5 hours into our drive we stopped for gas in VA. As we were pumping gas i heard a lot of giggling and laughter coming out of one of the vans. As I made my way over i could see the students hiding something under a seat. I soon found out that what they were hiding was a bottle of Bacardi they had found in the back of the rental van. Needless to say I was not happy. After a long phone call with the “unnamed” rental company about how i could have been arrested for a felony (driving an open alcohol container across state lines with minors) they decided to comp my rentals. We got back on the road, without the alcohol, and 4 hours later pulled into our destination. The next day we started our work. I was hoping that the alcohol was not setting a theme for our week, but oh was i wrong. The “organization” who had set up this trip did not know the area where we were working. they did not know where any hospitals were (important later) or the closest stores. they gave us directions to our work site which set us out on a 2 hour trip to a location that did not exist. When we finally arrived we met Frank (a blind, single retired chemist). We spent the week with Frank, painting, gardening, cleaning and taking care of his dilapidated house. Now this is where Emily comes in. Emily finds that last nerve you have and dances on it all week, but this was different. immediately Emily took to Frank. Emily would walk Frank around the house and describe to him all the work we were doing. She described herself as Frank’s “eyes” for the week. As our week was coming to a close a man from down the street showed up. He told us that he didnt even know someone lived in the house because it had been so covered by vines and weeds. We found out we were a “church” group from Baltimore and he decided to buy us lunch. He proceeded to tell us that he was a “southern pagan” who didnt see a need for Jesus. Before i could say a work Emily began telling this man about Jesus and how he changed her life and how he is changing Frank’s life. This southern pagan committed to checking on Frank each week and doing some more expensive repairs we could not afford. Before he left Emily asked if she could pray for him and frank together. When we finished praying i saw the neighbor quick wipe tears from his eyes as he headed home. Emily had surprised not only the other students and leaders, but me as well. That afternoon overshadowed one of the leaders of the organization cutting his foot with a chainsaw, one of my male students breaking bones in his foot, a leader pushing me off a boat because it would be “funny” as i fell into the side of the boat. All of these should have ruined the experience for so many people, but Emily taught us a valuable lesson about the love of God.

  • Ken says:

    This was my last year of college and our school had organized a missions tripto Belize. It was going to be incredible. The purpose of this trip was to build a house for a family who didn’t have one. We were also going to be ministering with the missionary at his church throughout the week. When we arrived none of us realized how poor this country really was. As we drove to our destination we passed house upon house that were falling apart. We would even see brush fires that started just from the extreme heat. This was not a pleasant country to live in, not to mention it was the middle of there dry season. We finally arrived and met the people who we would be building a house for. They were so thankful. We really didn’t understand what the big deal was. The house we were building wasn’t the greatest thing by our American standards. It basically was a 20×10 floor sectioned into three room and put up on stilts, no water or plumbing, no air conditioning, nothing but a floor and walls. We started working and ask we worked one of our people feel through the open floor and broke his foot (Good thing we had Missions Trip Insurance). We were moving along pretty fast though. In a day the floor was done and the walls were going up. Since thing were moving so nicely we decided to see if we could bless anyone else in the church community. As it turns out another family wanted to get there house painted. So a few of us split from the team and decided to paint that house (I was included with the paint team). Now throughout this time the family that we were building the house for would bring us food and make sure we were okay. I thought this was cool because they were helping us while we were helping them.
    It wasn’t until I started painting the other house that I realized what was going on.
    The other house was located right by the place where the family who’s house we were building was staying. I call it a place because I don’t think I can call it a home. A family of 6 was living in a shack not bigger than a parking space. It looked like a bus stop box covered with rusty sheet metal. This is when I realized that they were not just helping us by bringing us food, they were sacrificing for us. They were showing us their whole-hearted gratitude by proving food for us while we built thema house. My heart was so transformed. I believe that their actions ministered to me more then our actions did. When the house was finally built and we handed them the keys they cried. Something so little with almost nothing to it was a true blessing in their eyes. I experienced the true love of God on that missions trip.

    Now for a funny part. While were down there every day we would pass by a pepper bush growing these little red peppers. On day a girl in our group decided the eat one. Now this girl ios from Jamacia, so she ate it and told the rest of us that the were good. A couple of our guys decided, well if she can do it we can too. The took the peppers and ate. Can you say, “Mistake” By the time the ate the pepper and started to walk up the hill to our building site they were dying. They couldn’t take it. They started spitting and gagging. One even got to the top and was begging for water and bananas or milk, anything to take the burn away. It was hilarious to watch. So on our way back to the missionary home one of the other guys thought to himself that the peppers can’t be that hot, so he picked on and ate it. He was trying to keep his cool, but you could visible see his face turn red. Finally he started crying because he couldn’t handle it. So much for Machismo. HAHAHA!

  • Kali Mock says:

    This past October a group of 7 people from my church went to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. We were so excited to go. There was so much opposition from the devil that we didn’t think we’d make it. Once we got there, our task was to work on a Bible school. Our second day on the site, I was given a task to make the rivets in between the concrete blocks that the rest of our team was constructing the walls with.
    He told me I could stand on stacked blocks or prop a ladder against the wall to reach the high blocks. The blocks were too unstable and I’m not a big fan of heights so I opted for the ladder. To make the rivets, I had to use a portion of bent rebar. While I was pushing in between the blocks, I felt a sort of slipping. I thought it was the ladder sliding backwards so I dropped the rebar piece and jumped off the ladder. As soon as I landed, I looked up in just enough time to see the wall I was working on crumble to the ground! That’s right, the wall fell over and most of the blocks broke.
    My first reaction was to apologize to the Guatemalans that were helping us and the forman which was a Guatemalan as well. I knew a little bit of Spanish so I kept apologizing over and over. The missionary just looked at me and said, “Now I have to teach you how to build the walls so you can fix this one!” The rest of that day was a bit of a drag. I rode in the front seat when we left the job site and there was a cow grazing on the hillside. This road wasn’t big enough for two cars and it was rocky as anything. As we slowly drove past the grazing cow, I had a feeling that something was going to happen. The missionary rolled my window down (they were automatic) and told me to slap the cow!! I was pulling away from the window and saying “no way!”
    He kept edging me on along with the rest of the team so I did it. I just hauled off and slapped the cow! It was nuts! He told me he does that with all of his teams at one point or another but mine was the best reaction he’s ever seen. For the rest of the 8 days we were there everyone was laughing about it and to this day, they still bring it up!! That day was full of a bad time & a hilarious time altogether, God brought this trip together and didn’t let me focus the negative. 🙂

  • Scott Pittman says:

    We took an trip to Guatemala three summers ago to work with our denomination to help plant a church and hold a VBS for the community of the planted church. We were literally on the side of a mountain hours away from civilization. The local pastor had prepared a place for the building to be built and it was a solid half mile up and down a narrow windy trail away from the main road where our truck had the materials. Needless to say, after a couple of trips carrying big steel beams and other materials, we were pretty exhausted. Towards the end, we were carrying 6×12′ pieces of sheet metal, that would be used as the roof to the building. Two of our students were carrying a couple of sheets of it, when one of them lost their grip and dropped his end, causing Chris, the student on the other end, to quickly lose control of his end. The effect of this was that Chris’ end of the sheet metal came down across his arm and cut a six inch long gash in his arm, that immediately started bleeding profusely. Remember, we’re on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere! The missionary who we were with quickly took off the flannel shirt he was wearing and wrapped it around Chris’ arm. But we needed to get to a hospital quickly. Before we left, though, Chris had the presence of mind to ask if our group could pray for him before we left. So we prayed, and then jumped in a truck to head down the mountain, Chris and the missionary’s wife in the cab, and me in the back, holding on for dear life! The closest hospital was hours away, but there was a clinic in the village at the base of the mountain that was closed. But we went there anyway, and it turned out that the nurse was already there because a mother had a sick child and the nurse had come in to see her. The next problem was that Chris needed stitches, and he needed a tetanus shot, both items supplies that are hard to come by in such a place. Tetanus shots are reserved for important officials in Guatemala, and the kind of stitching that was needed for his large gash would not have been readily on hand in such a place. As it turns out, our prayers were effective and this small little clinic at the base of the mountain had both! As the missionary translated, I stayed by Chris’ side, explaining to him step by step what the nurse was doing so he wouldn’t have to look. I have a queasy stomach, but somehow I was able to watch the whole thing. The entire time Chris had patience and calmness beyond anything I could explain. The nurse finished, and Chris’ arm looked good, and she even gave him some antibiotics to take with him. At the end, we asked what we owed them, and they said nothing, this is a free clinic! I’ve never experienced so literally an absolute dependence on God’s provision and care. God very clearly and specifically answered our prayers that day in several ways, and those who were there that day, including myself, have never been the same.

  • […] resource, Prepare. Go. Live. Got a great mission trip story? Tell it in the comments section here for your chance to win one of three Flip video cameras. Prizes go to the best three. var […]

  • Big Mike Lewis says:


    The best story I have is actually a serious one. We had a long week. We struggled with a level area for the cement floor for the house we built in Mexico. The walls weren’t coming out even. We thought we would have to leave an unfinished house. The center ceiling beam was put on wrong twice.

    We found that our problems were nothing to worry about. There was one day we went to a graduation ceremony for a Mexican school. The people gave us the “choice” seats of honor even though we didn’t know any of the students. We were given food every day by people who had so little because they wanted to repay us for our work. Even though we brought lunch with us, we didn’t want to refuse even though we weren’t there for recognition. At the end of the week, we finished the house. As we had a special ceremony to hand over the keys to the house, the family broke down and cried. They couldn’t believe we would pay to build them a real house (not the stucco houses, we built them a wood beam and frame house). I guess watching us enjoy doing this work all week had a huge impact on them and made us remember Who is really in charge. We also had neighbors who wanted to know more about what we were doing and why we weren’t there building for money.

    God works through us when we live like His son Jesus. These trips have a huge impact on those who go every year because of how we are transformed even when we might be going for some fun too.

  • Tim Hart says:

    Our High School student ministry team spent a week in Arizona ministering to children on the Navajo Indian reservation. Every day, we were reminded of the needs of those children as many walked to our Kid’s Club from miles away and very few had new outfits to wear. The students in our team were amazing as they literally enveloped those children with God’s love and grace throughout the week we were there.
    Our team made it a habit every evening to debrief the day’s joys and struggles as we lay on the school’s basketball courts looking up at the stars. We looked forward to these times as we shared “God Sightings,” laughed, cried and prayed together before the night ended. Each evening we would discuss how present God was through the events of the day. But one evening was different than any other that week. One night on that trip was different than any other of my life.
    As we lay watching the stars and sharing ways we saw God that day, the shimmer of the heavens was punctuated by rolling clouds in the area. Looking up, we could all see the cloud coming that looked exactly like a smiling face (you know, like those Walmart stickers,) but we were too busy discussing our day for anyone to mention it. Our plan was to continue to talk about what God had done that day. However, God’s plan was to show up in a Mighty way right then and there.
    As the smiling cloud passed over us, two stars shone bright though the eyes directly above us. Whoever was sharing at that moment stopped mid-sentence. Their breath was stolen away, as was my own. We realized that instead of sharing about God, we were experiencing Him smiling down on us at that moment. I believe everyone in our group sighed “Wow!” together and it was a minute before we were even able to speak again. Of course, the joys of working with the children that day was greatly eclipsed by encountering God that night and our discussion quickly changed to “Did you see that?!?” “Was I the only one?” and “I wasn’t dreaming, was I?”
    Doing the work of God that week was great, don’t get me wrong. But doing the work of God was NOTHING compared to experiencing the presence of God. The incredible joy of serving those children and that community paled in comparison to the amazing truth of knowing that God smiled down on His children that night.

  • Rich Hall says:

    How Not to Park a Pickup

    Until I hear a voice that I know to be God’s, booming out and telling me what to do, I won’t lay claim to having had Divine intervention. This little event, however, brings me the realization that prayer may well have saved my life.

    It was the first day heading to our building sites in Tijuana and I was the second vehicle to try to make it up this very steep and dusty dirt road. What I didn’t notice was that the first truck gave up and went around the corner another way, so up I went. It isn’t shown well in the picture, but look at the slope the house is built on behind the truck and that is what I was trying to drive up. For a little bit anyway. Then the wheels started to slip so I gassed it more.

    Now I consider myself a driver. I’ve been driving fast and hitting apexes since I was 14, I’ve done racing classes in a couple different kinds of karts and hung out with stunt drivers swapping stories of daring do. None of that prepared me for being on a dirt hill sliding backwards with all four wheels locked up as the valley below used gravity to pull me backwards.

    So there I was, foot firm on the brake, sliding backwards to the very real possibility of death arriving sooner than expected. Amazingly, the first thought that came to mind was, “Well, at least I’m ready.” It wasn’t too long ago that I didn’t have Christ sitting next to me and that really was my first thought, “At least I’m ready.”

    All this went through my mind and I was still sliding backwards. Yep, seatbelt on. Yep, about 60 of my fellow faithful watching this all take place and me just thinking I can’t turn the wheel because the wheels ain’t turning and it won’t do any good. Take my foot off the brake to let the front wheels do their job of swinging the front end around and I’m more likely just to go off all the more quickly. I decide to keep foot on brake and contemplate my life.

    Don’t worry, I won’t go into that here.

    Suddenly, with a bump a grind and a thump. I’m stopped. Thankful. Breathing again. Walking it off later it was all of about 60 feet that I slid backward with the wheels locked and all that stopped me from pretty sure death was that someone had decided to dig out a piece of the hill so they could park there. Without them having done that I have the sure sense that this could have turned out very differently.

    I know many of the folks of our church were praying for all of us while on that trip. It isn’t with light hearts that many moms and dads send their kids across the border to work in the poorest parts of Tijuana. Believe me, they believe in God and pray to Him for our safety. And the prayer partners are rightly called “prayer warriors.” But it really made me think in the following couple of days about God being “outside of time.”

    Given that God always was, is, and always will be; and that all of eternity is before Him at any moment, I wonder when did he hear those prayers and inspire that wonderful person to dig out that little parking spot so that I, yeah, little me with the prayers of a congregation looking out for me one of many, so that I didn’t die that morning?

    And then I realize I may never know. But I smile, thank the unknown person who dug that out, all who pray for us while on mission, and God.

  • Josh Byers says:

    It was a our first missions trip as a youth group so it was a time of bonding and building unity. And nothing builds unity like pranks. And we weren’t even the ones who started it.

    We were in Montana doing all sorts of work on a ranch that was being created to minister to troubled teens when some of the locals thought it would be funny to put shaving cream in our shoes and dirty socks in our pillows. And as weak as that was we couldn’t let it go without retaliation.

    We waited all week until the last night to get our revenge. The locals we were staying with (who instigated the whole thing) had an absolutely amazing dvd and vhs collection. We’re talking hundreds of discs and tapes all meticulously alphabetized.

    We’ll you can guess what happened that night. Not only did we re-agrange the order they were in but we switched every last disc and tape to a new cover.

    Obviously that wasn’t the focus of the trip, we were there to minister and coming from a small church plant it was amazing that we were even there. Our students raised their own money to come and every one of them had their lives changed by the service they were able to offer.

  • Elliot Voris says:

    We were in Mexico building a house with our high school ministry. We wanted to play a game around the campfire to relax from the day, and ease some of the tension. We decided on a game called “Hot li’l sissy.” The game is play between three or four people. They all sit as close to the fire as possible and see who can last the longest. My future roommate was one of the contestants and was playing strictly for bragging rights. They sat nearly in the fire for about 20-30 minutes. Finally, the last two contestants (my roommate included) agreed to call it quits at the same time. My roommate got massive burns halfway up his shins. They were blistering at least an inch out! To this day, he’s got scars on his leg that cover at least a quarter of his shins, and he has never played a game of hot li’l sissy again.

  • Scott Tinman says:

    We took 25 Sr. High students and adults to Puerto Rico a couple of years ago and ran into some interesting travel that was unexpected. On the way down to Puerto Rico we were traveling from Minnesota and had a connecting flight into New Jersey. This was at the time of Hurricane Dennis I believe and it had affected our ability to land there…so we had to circle around Cleveland for a while and ended up needing to refuel and then head back to New Jersey. Needless to say our layover time was not enough so we had to try and figure out how to get from New Jersey to Puerto Rico. There were no other flights that night so we had to find a hotel in the armpit of America of New Jersey:) Sorry Jersey residents. After finding a hotel nearby we found out that the next morning at 6am we would fly from New Jersey to Houston and have a 6 hour layover to catch a flight to Puerto Rico. I had lready planned on being in a day early to get adjusted to see the site but now we ended up being 3 hours late to our original start time for the trip.

    While there we had an awesome experience working with the Youthworks staff. One bump was that a leader during the week got bit by a stray dog that the staff decided not to quarantine so we spend many hours at a hospital getting the start of a series of rabbi shots. Had the dog been kept this could have been avoided.

    On our way back we had another travel experience that extended our trip. Our flight was scheduled for 1pm so we arrived at 10am to get checked in…then we found out that the flight got changed to leave at 10am and we just missed our flight. Try finding 25 seats for a group to get back to Minnesota. We were able to find 2 separate flights that got us a nights stay in Cleveland for the night and then travel the next day together to get back home 1 day late and we got to stay in Cleveland longer than just a refuel stay!

    Through all these experiences in airport concourses and layover mishaps it really brought us together as a team and many games of cards and other games that helped us build a strong bond with one another. We experienced what missions is all about in going with the flow and making the most out of the opportunities and conversations that we had with others in the airports.

  • Matt Moseley says:

    In 1997, we took our group from Oklahoma City to to Gallup, New Mexico, to do Vacation Bible School on the Navajo reservation there. We slept in a small church and showered at a nearby State Park. Each morning, we would drive 2 rental vans out onto the reservation to pick up kids. One morning, between the 2 vans going out one time each, we brought back a total of 72 kids! Each van had all the seats full, with children in laps, standing , lying down, and crammed in every which way. Looking back, I thank God that a tragedy did not occur; we did reach over 100 kids that week, with several making professions of faith in Christ. After we were done, we drove over to the Grand Canyon for a “play day”. We did this 2 years in a row, and they were incredible trips.

  • Josh Martin says:

    I took a group to Nicaragua to build a school for a community. What a great experience it was. One afternoon, the organization we were assisting brought our team a metal bucket filled with ice cold sodas in glass bottles. What a treat it would be for us as we were so thirsty after working in the heat all day. This would be a great treat for the natives as well. We were going to rest and drink this treat when we felt so guilty for drinking this treat around the kids and adults of this community. So, we made the choice to give our sodas to the kids of the area. Now keep in mind that there was only 25-30 bottles. We thought that we may have enough to give all the kids a bottle. We had not expected the speed at which word traveled because kids began coming out of nowhere to to get a bottle of soda. We started worrying about acomodating this influx. Here is where the story gets cool. God absolutely worked out a miracle because those 30 bottles multiplied in such a way that we were able to treat every child, their parents, and even had enough left for our team. It was truly a modern day retelling of the fish and bread story. Our teens talked about that event for years. It was during this trip that we saw 100+ people give their hearts to the Lord. This even included decisions made by the team we brought from home. God was, is and will always be so good.

  • Darryl Nelson says:

    One year my youth group and I went to Athens Greece on a mission trip to work with a Middle east Refugee Center in the heart of Downtown Athens. We spent most of our time running a soup kitchen and fixing up the center, but one of the other ministries that we took part of was called The Lost Coin Ministry, this ministry reached out to the prostitutes of Athens who were mainly forced into the job rather than doing it willingly. You see Athens has a huge Red Light district that is full of brothels. Another part of the Lost Coin ministry was that we would walk the streets of the Red Light District and pray in front of these brothels. One night we had something really cool take place. You see in Athens the way that you know a brothel is open for business is that it will have a light fixture with only one light bulb on in front of its doors. And one night while we were praying for this brothel and the people in it we heard a loud pop, we weren’t really sure what had happened, but then I looked up and saw that the light bulb in front of that brothel had burnt out. Now that very easily could have been poor maintenance on the brothels side or God intervening…all I know is that either way to the outside world for that night the brothel was closed! The students in our group were so excited about this that they stayed out all night that night praying in front of brothels! Awesome!!

  • Cortney Smith says:

    Last summer we went to Georgia for a week long camp/mission trip. We stayed in the dorms of a college campus and most of the older youth had suites without an adult because of the layout of the school. On one of the last nights some of the girls decide to toilet paper another one of the girl’s rooms. They came back from dinner to find t.p. everywhere! Not knowing exactly what to do with all that toilet paper to clean up, one of the girls decided to do what you naturally do with toilet paper – flush it down the toilet! Yes, ALL of that toilet paper went down the toilet – well I guess I should say didn’t go down the toilet! One of our youth sponsors had an exciting night of cleaning up an overflowed toilet and tons of wet t.p.!

  • Tracy Hale says:

    Bad food?!? We went on a Mission Trip to South Florida a few years ago. We were staying at a private Christian school. Upon arrival on Sunday afternoon, we were unloading our bus and putting the week’s worth of food away. The youth were putting food in the refrigerator and saw this aluminum pan covered with foil. They opened the corner and were all saying, “”EEEhhh, yuck, what is that??” We were invited to eat on Wednesday night with the youth group from a local church affiliated with this school. Wednesday afternoon a group of people came to where we were staying and got that aluminum pan out of the refrigerator. That night at dinner, our group was served spaghetti out of than same pan!!!! Needless to say, our group ate a lot of salad and bread!

  • Chuck Cassada says:

    Last summer, I took some of my youth group to Ica, Peru. We spent two week working in small villages in and around Ica that had been devastated by an earthquake 10 months earlier. The last day we were there, the missionaries took us out to these giant sand dunes. We road these large 10 person dune buggies. We also went Sand Boarding(riding a snowboard head first down a 200 ft sand dune). One of my adult leaders was the last guys to go and about 30 ft down this 200 ft dune he crashed. He started to barrel role down the dune and did not stop. When he got to the flat landing he continued to role. It took him about 5 mins before he could stand due to the fact he was so dizzy. That was funny in of itself but another one of my adult leaders got laughing so hard that she peed in her paints. We came up with a great slogan: “South American, So Much Fun You Will Pee in Your Paints”

  • David Gantt says:

    Two summers ago (my first year at this church at youth pastor), we went to World Changers in Marietta Georgia. As the new youth pastor I was stoked about getting my youth involved in missions. Halfway through the week we were having a marvelous week…kids were getting to know Jesus in a hands and feet sort of way. Well one day we were on our work site and the “Gallon Challenge” came up as a topic of discussion. For those of you who do not know what that is; it is a challenge in which several people try to drink a gallon of whole milk (not 1% or skim) in an hour and keep it down for thirty minutes. Most people wind up getting about half of it down and then it coming back up. Well the students on my crew thought it would be a good free time activity that night. So that night most, not all, of the students gathered in the cafeteria and about five us participated. I say us because I was included. Hey a youth pastor has to lead by example right. Well one kid was out in like five minutes, he was a light weight. Then there was a guy in my youth group, myself and a guy on my work crew. I got about 85% of the milk down and needless to say my goal was distance and style. That left the guy in my youth group and the one on my crew. They got about 75% of their milk down and participated in synchronized hurling. It was a magnificent event. Nothing says missions like regurgitating for Jesus. I don’t mean that sarcastically, what I do mean is that memories are made: funny, happy, people coming to know Christ and people being served in the name of Christ on these trips. We are all called to Go and serve. It doesn’t have to be pain staking to do some for Christ. It can be just as fun serving Christ and developing friendships and memories as you are out being the hands and feet of Jesus. I know it sounds gross…but I have the pictures to prove this story if you are interested 🙂 Lost of good action shots!

  • Sam Perkins says:

    On my 3rd mission trip as leader in my second summer of full time youth ministry, I took a group of 9 recent high school graduates to Reynosa, Mexico to build homes for people migrating from inland Mexico to this border town. First of all, we were supposed to stay in the compound with the host organization, but they were overbooked, so we had to stay in a church in the middle of… well, I still don’t know where exactly we were. I just know that the dirt roads had craters in them the size of our vans, we had to be locked into the church (by the way, there was no one there from the organization to stay with us, we were just kind of dropped off), my kids were freaking out because of the small-dog-sized cockroaches on the floor so we slept on church pews, and there was group of local guys (about 8) who kind of stalked our girls for a few days. One night during the week, the leaders of the mission organization took us to a loacl restaurant for some good authentic Mexican food, some dancing, and karaoke. They proceeded to get drunk and then left us with their meal and bar tab. Oh, and the water they served us was not bottled. The next day we finished our work and drove an hour to South Padre Island, Texas for a day on the beach;; when we got back, the water had caught up with ALL of us and some had gotten severe sun burn (2 kids had 3rd degree). One girl passed out and another was hallucinating. Thankfully, we were near the end. On the 6 hour drive back to Austin where we were flying out, one of our chaperones got sick in the car from both ends. I think we made about 12 pit stops. By 4 the next morning, most were feeling much better. We got up to catch our flight and drop of the rental cars. 10 of the 12 people on the trip made the flight no problem, but another leader and I got hungup returning the vans. We had to run to the plane, got stopped at the x-ray machine, were told we couldn’t bring all of our luggage through, had to leave most of one bag, and then got to sit in a crowded plane while sweaty and nauseated. Oh, and I later found out that we were allowed to go through the xray screening with two giant pocket knives in my bag! I have never been so happy to be back home in my own… bathroom.

  • Bobby Kemp says:

    The previous church I served at had a long relationship with a mission organization in Monterrey, Mexico. So for years we took students there, and it was great to see the long term relationships develop through short term missions! Because of that long term relationship we had a student decide that the summer after he graduated from high school he was going to serve the entire summer in Monterrey as a team leader. What an encouragement to see a student moved through short term missions to give an entire summer serving on the mission field. And it was only fitting that our group (his home church) group was his last group. It was great to see him learning the language, participating in the culture, and growing closer to God. So, some of our guy students were moved so deeply by his life that they decided to bless him on our departure. For about 5 days straight these guys would take a couple pair of his underwear each day, so that the morning we left the only underwear he had were the ones he was wearing. So, with one pair of “whitie-tighties”, he had to go about 10 more days of traveling, debriefing (no pun intended!), and just wrapping the summer up. I guess learning how to ask “where can I buy underwear” in Spanish is good cross-cultural training!?!

  • Bobby Kemp says:

    One more story (hopefully this isn’t against the rules!!). I didn’t get to experience this personally, but had friends involved.
    A friend of mine is planting a church in Germany, and so last summer they held a week long community wide outreach to “meet” their city. So they had about 100 people from the U.S. (college students, high school students, and some pastors) come to help with the project. They were serving the community during the day through different organizations (cleaning up neighborhoods, serving food at a soup kitchen, spending time with elderly folks at a nursing home, etc.), and then in the evening they had a tent set up downtown and invited people in for a meal and an evangelistic service. A German pastor did all the preaching, but different American team members had the chance to pray, share a testimony, etc. So they had a young German girl (18 at the time) who is fluent in German and English do the translating for the Americans. This was the first time she had ever translated and she was quite nervous. One night a pastor from Florida was asked to pray…and he wanted her to translate the prayer. So she followed him to the mic and he began…”O Lord help us live to not please ourselves”…and the appropriate translation pause for the translator…then her translation. Well, in her nervousness instead of praying that we “not live to please ourselves” in the selfish, ego-centric sort of way…she asked God to help us not “masturbate” (hopefully this won’t be censored!). I’m not sure how many people came forward that night to accept Christ, but within the German crowd there was a good chuckle.

  • Matt Nash says:

    My first year in youth ministry we were on a missions trip to Europe and the 2nd day of the trip in Edinburgh, Scotland we were doing a street performance and one of my students in the drama had a chain around his neck symbolic of sin. All of a sudden a guy from the crowd ran out and grabbed the chain and started swinging it around. He hit a little girl in the process and it started a riot in front of the mall we were performing in. All of a sudden I took half the team back down a hill and one of the scottish youth hit another student over the head with a 2×4 and so we had to carry him back to the church. We finally got everyone back inside (except the 2 that went to the hospital) and we held a 24 hour prayer vigil for the neighborhood. The whole neighborhood expected us to leave but we stayed for the full 2 weeks we were in Scotland and we had 11 people come to Christ. In 2005 I returned with my second team to Scotland and we did lose a girl during a street performance of celtic music. A few hours later she called us from a police station by the church we were staying at and we went and got her. I have such a passion for the people of Scotland but seem to always have an incident when I lead teams to Scotland.

  • Tyler Volkers says:

    My greatest mission trip moments was 3 years ago when I was working as a part time youth pastor. This was the church’s first youth mission trip, so it was every single kid’s first trip, and it was the first mission trip that I ever led the group. I think that this could have been a recipe for disaster. Basically, we didn’t know what to expect, and we put a lot of faith and trust in God that He would show up and use us despite our inabilities.

    Well, a lot of people could have said it was awful. We got lost a few times on our way to a very impoverished land in Kentucky. We broke the mirrors off our newly rented vans. One kid rolled down the mountain (thankfully he didn’t break anything). The place we were staying at told us when we got there that there was no clean water, and I had to drive 50 miles to go get clean water bottles for our group for the week. We took showers in garbage bags, and the food was awful, and we didn’t get much of it.

    BUT God showed up in a big way. Despite all of the adversity that Satan tried to throw at us, God infused our students’ hearts for ministry. I cried as I watch them engage with the families and love on them just because they are God’s children. They worked tirelessy, even into OT hours to make sure that we completed a roofing task on a house. They stepped up to learn things they never knew they could do in order to make some people’s housing situations livable. They encountered God through prayer and by trusting Him with everything they had. We supported and loved each other. And, they didn’t throw me down the mountain after the kid. I came home tired, exhausted, bruised, and worn out, but I also came home energized, refreshed, and excited for God’s plan.

    Was the first mission trip for this church a success? Some on our church board said no (the ones who realized that more budget was spent on broken mirrors and hundreds of bottles of water), but for those who were impacted by God by simplyigoing to serve Him, it is a whole hearted YES!

  • Steven Turner says:

    While on a mission trip in Jamaica, our group took a day off and traveled by bus across the island north to south for a day of recreation. Our group occupied the entire bus and I sat near the back. We passed through a small town on the way and several events occurred so quickly it is hard to accurately sequence them, but as best I remember, this is what happened. I felt the bus slow significantly, I heard gasps from the front of the bus, I saw a mangled moped and a pair of bloody legs on the ground, several adults from the front of the bus yelled to look away, as I turned my head away my brain could hardly make sense of the gory mess that lay on the road beside us. We had faced danger all week long and laughed at it. We rode wrecklessly on the back of trucks, slept in the open in earshot of gunfire, worked in unsafe conditions, and ate anything put in front of us. We laughed this off, but this sight reminded us that even our lives are fragile. We had gotten caught up in the excitement of adventure, but this event provided a sober reminder that the dangers were real. I don’t think that our church will ever take another mission trip again without prioritizing safety in our planning.

  • Kevin Lilly says:

    I took a group of junior high students on a mission trip to W.V.A. to help a small church with a VBS and to work with a Homeless Shelter.On the trip down the guys realized we would be sleeping at the church and showering at the YMCA. They became very aggitated at the thought of group showers and stated clearly that they wouldn’t be showering all week. Well, within the first few hours their aversion to nakedness quickly left as we found a couple of them streaking around the OUTSIDE of the church! To top this off, my wife walked out the back door to go to the van and found one junior high boy peeing off the back steps into the airconditioner fan! This wasn’t some quite little country church; less than 50 yards on either side was DQ and Hardee’s in clear view of the church yard! With all of this on the first night, I knew it was going to be an interesting week! A few nights later in the middle of the night one guy sat up in his sleep and yelled repeatedly at the top of his lungs … “guy, guys their coming, their coming!” Talk about a rude awaking in the middle of the night to find you have a guy who has nightmares and talks in his sleep, sleeping next to you! It has made for some great laughs years later as we talk about the trip! The final memorable moment on this trip came near the end of the week after I was exhausted, physically and mentally. I was packing the van for a day trip and the teens still hadn’t quite got the servant leadership thing and were all in the van laughing and goofing off. Just about the time I had it all in, they rocked the van and it all came tumbling down/out on me – smashing the lunches we had just made. I’m ashamed to say it, but in an unguarded morment I let out a swear word . In an instant the van went from utter chaos to silence. There I stood in a pile of backpacks and smashed lunches with 10 set of eyes glued on me. They were in shock and I was so embarassed of what had just come out of my mouth. (To top it off, my senior pastor’s kid was with me!) Needless to say, my stupidity made for a great “teachable moment” at my own expense. What a wild ride that trip was – but it was also a life change for many of those goofy junior high guys, many of who are now finishing up college and heading toward a life of ministry! God is good!!

  • Bud Burkart says:

    Several years ago on an inner city missions trip we needed a couple of extra adults to go. Well, one of them was a very nice lady but she was also very uptight (to put it kindly). We were staying in a really old, large school downtown. There were a lot of noises in the building so every night they would have me and a buddy walk the building. Well, we really played up all of the sounds we heard and she started getting real paranoid. She walked by one of the locked offices and said that she thinks she saw a gun. We went over and looked and could tell it was a golf club. Well we went and got one of the missions summer staff guys and told him what was up. We talked him into sneaking in and moving the club to another office. We told the ladies we were going to make another round and I asked them to show one of the other leaders which room the “gun” was in….. well long story short, she started freaking out when the “gun” was gone and she ran over to pull the fire alarm. We stopped her before she did, but I’m not sure that she ever came on another youth trip! There was also a great deal of quality spiritual growth on the trip! : )

  • C-lowe says:

    I don’t think there has ever been a youth mission trip without a crazy story, so here’s mine… Last summer, we went to West Virginia on a World Changers project. One of the students we took is rather large and prone to stomach issues. We had been working on the roof of a house and were taking a break to walk the community and meet some of the neighbors. Just as the groups were taking off down the street I hear lots of banging and my name being shouted from the port-o-potty. I go to investigate and the voice tells me that its having a little bit of “trouble” and needs a change of clothes. I immediately screamed for my husband because, well, I’m a girl and wasn’t about to go in the port-o-pot to investigate this guy’s “trouble!” Mind you, it was about 90 degrees outside and this is no small student. He had to wait for nearly an hour, in the port-o-pot while we got him an extra change of clothes from our lodging site. The only saving grace was that the rest of the group was out in the community and had no clue what was going on. I think the poor guy lost about 20 pounds in there…

  • Clay Hining says:

    We take a mission trip to a small town in Ohio every year to complete home repair/renovation projects that the people who own the house are physically or financially unable to undertake. All week long we focus on looking to the needs of others before considering your own. One year we had a student who really grasped the concept, maybe a little too much.
    Around the 7th hour of the 10 hour van trip home, there was a strange stinch coming from the back of the van. We had stopped to eat about around the 5th hour and we were about to stop again to use the bathroom and rest for a few minutes. The smell from the back was getting worse, and it smelled like vomit. Well, it was vomit. Jonathan, one of our students, had thrown up right after lunch. He caught his vomit in his tshirt, and not wanting to consider his needs over the others in the van, he just held it in his shirt. He held his vomit in his shirt for two hours!!! At the rest area we got him a new shirt. I couldn’t believe he threw up and didn’t tell anyone! Thankfully it was just something he ate and he didn’t get sick again. I have told students since then that it is not selfish to let us know if you have gotten sick!

  • Larry Darnell says:

    Back in the day, we used to take Choir Mission Trips where we would go as a youth choir around to different churches and youth homes to sing.

    One particular trip had to be the worst experience I have ever had. The bus broke down several times in route. Several kids came down with the flu. We made three trips to the emergency rooms in three different cities. One of the churches we were performing at did not remember we were even coming so we had to find our own accommodations.

    One performance on the trip really typifies the whole experience. We were at a court-sponsored youth ranch performing with the kids we had left. The lighting was very poor. One of the soloists stepped off the stage and fell 6 feet while he was singing. Another toppled the sound system in the middle of the performance. And still another soloist completely forgot his solo and just started humming. The risers with the guys on it crashed out sending kids everywhere. . You would think we were a comedy skit group because the laughter was deafening. Then several girls got physically sick during the last part of the performance. And to top all of that, we left a kid at the youth ranch by mistake (that’s what I am sticking with) and did not notice until we stopped to eat a half hour away.

    Needless to say, the interest in Choir Mission Trips died out completely after this one.

  • Sean Frenier says:

    Two years ago on a mission trip to Mexico, a family in our church donated a van to the mission where we were going to be serving. Our entire mission team had already purchased plane tickets to fly to Texas and then to drive into Mexico, so we needed someone to drive the van. An older man in our church, who had been to Mexico before, offered to drive the van from Orlando, FL to Eagle Pass, TX where he would meet up with our team in Mexico. He decided to drive straight through and brought a friend to keep him awake. They arrived in at the Texas/Mexico border around 3 AM. Our driver was tired, his passenger was alsleep and he was not paying any attention to the new traffic patterns on the Mexico side of the border. Let’s just say as he was “admiring” a little senorita crossing the street, he crashed through the locked border gate at full speed, destroying the gate and the windshield of the van. The border patrol obviously thought someone was trying to cross illegally and because our driver could not speak Spanish, he was detained and the van was impounded. The missionaries we were working with were awakened in the middle of the night to go and sort things out. After many hours of deliberation it was decided that in order to get the van back our team was going to have to weld, paint and reinstall a new gate for the Mexican border. So we repaired the gate, left money to repair the van and peace was restored between our two countries. Needless to say, I try my best not to be in the same vehicle as my friend.

  • Yvonne says:

    Over spring break this year we took our fairly small youth group to Denver to participate in DOOR ministries. It was the first mission trip for many of us. DOOR works with many underpriviledged and homeless people in urban areas. One morning we were to go serve breakfast at a community center. I had my directions, my contact’s name and a van full of kids. As I was driving around the block searching for a parking place a rather shabby looking man with long hair and few teeth started waving and following our van. We rolled up the windows, locked the doors and drove on. After a bit we cautiously parked. The stranger was still there! He approached our van and introduced himself. To my utter embarrassment, he was our contact and had been trying to flag me down to show me where to park. He is a wonderful guy and we were all able to laugh about our mistake. It was a valuable lesson for our group

  • Dave says:

    This past spring break, or March Break if your Canadian like me, eh, we took a trip to Lebannon, PA… that’s right to tropical Pennsylvania! Take that all you Mexican trippers! Anyway, we loaded up two vans and headed down for a week. The week was great with great times of group building, quiet kids coming out of their shells and powerful acts of God which we dubbed, “As If By Design” moments (by the way Doug that will cost you if you use it in a book). As the week wrapped up we got in the vans and headed back up to Canada, a 9 hour road trip.
    Because of the length of trip my fellow driver and I decided and later declared that we would be stopping every 3 hours for washrooms and food… but that was it, we were tired. We took off about 9 am and tried to get as far north as possible before lunch. As we got closer to the noon mark some bladders became an issue and so we decided to cave and jump off the innerstate 15 minutes early! I was in the lead and the other van followed. I should tell you that I drive an ’04 minivan, while the other van was a ’93 or so, some of the gages on that van were a bit sketchy and things, but it saved me tons on rental costs. Anyway, as we come off the highway I turned into a gas station/restaurant for a break and a refuel, only to see the other van stalled in the middle of the road. We figured the van was out of gas… as I mentioned, the gages are messed up. Within 2 minutes of us pulling off the highway, a fire truck loaded with guys happened to pull up behind the van, as if by design. The guys all got off the truck and pushed the van off the road, this is when we realized the steering the van was gone. In order to get it off the road the van actually was pushed up onto the grass beside the gas station. We couldn’t get the van to start, the steering was gone, we were 6 hours plus from home and we had kids to consider. I, as the fearless leader, came up with the genius plan to call AAA and wait. We did. During the 2 hours we waited for the tow to come we had made a plan B just in case the van was unmovable or undrivable. As soon as the tow truck guy came, our plan B because our plan A. The van had died right there on the road. I loaded up my van with half the people and as much stuff as I could get in and headed North toward the border, where another van would relay the first group home. I then turned around and drove 3 hours back to the site of the incident to pick up the next group of people and the rest of the stuff. 7 hours later we arrived home. The incredible part is that that van, the one that died, got it’s people off the road and safe before it shut down. If it had happened on the innerstate we might have had a massively different impact. It all happened as if by design.

  • Ryan says:

    OK, so I was on my 2nd trip to Haiti as a high school student and we were leaving our host city and heading towards Port au Prince to depart. Of course there is nothing better than a good old bus trip that lasts several hours and is filled with dust, heat, and every bad smell known to man. We left early in the morning and were well into the trip when we stopped for a restroom break in the middle of a town along the way. We quickly shuffled out of the bus thankful for the break from the jarring bumps and potholes in the road. Anyways, we shuffled to our separate areas (guys to the left, gals to the right in the ‘bush”). While the men were relieving themselves on the sides of buildings and in all likelihood homes (which I thought was a bit weird), the ladies were takin’ care of business amongst bushes and other foliage. As we all loaded up on the bus and took off for another round of bumps and holes there was a wretched smell that filled the bus. To make a long story short, after much searching for the source of the smell it was discovered that in the midst of taking a bathroom break, as one of the ladies had squatted to do #2 she had inadvertently got some of the poo on her skirt. Needless to say she was quite embarrassed, but it gave us a good laugh at her expense. In the middle of the entire bus this poor lady had to de-skirt and change into a new one. She promptly tossed the soiled skirt out the window (I hope no one picked that up). Needless to say I will never forget this bathroom humor!

  • Darin Brown says:

    I was leading a trip to the mountains of central Mexico and we were doing the normal stuff, painting a church, playing soccer with the kids in the street, trying to talk Spanish, etc. I was trying to be the brave and enthusiastic youth pastor by sorta setting the example and really getting involved with the locals. It was all going fine until all of the kids around me dove for the ground. Since I was the only American in the middle of the street at the time I looked pretty dumb being the only human standing and looking around at everyone on the ground speaking spanish and making hand motions to me to get down. I then heard a relatively loud humming sound. Almost a dull roar. So I dove on the ground. I then, through some rough translation, found out that they all dove because of the swarm of killer bees that kinda ruled the neighborhood had decided to do a fly by. So much for setting the example in cross cultural communication. We were all fine, but the leader (me) was a little bit humbled.

  • Adam Rentas says:

    Most people would agree that using a “bano” in Mexico is a major part of the Mission to Mexico experience. Having already experienced that “blessing” many times, I now try to avoid using the bano for as long as possible, hopefully keeping that bano free for someone else to experience that blessing. Of course I had made this “boycott the bano” effort known to our Mission team, and after three days of great Mexican food, countless bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola, and various essential youth group munchies, the battle was over. It was time to experience the bano blessing. So, off I went, armed with toilet paper and vicks vapo-rub for under my nose. As I entered the plywood box with a hole in it, I was reminded why I had determined to put of this experience as long as possible. Even with the vapo rub, the smell within that box was un-human, and even though the hole in the seat was large enough for a freshman boy to fall through, it seemed as if all the freshman boys in the camp had missed the day of kindgergarten that they taught boys how to aim. I resolved to make this encounter as short as possible, however, my students decided that I needed to have some extended “quiet time” with the Lord. As soon as I entered the plywood box bano, 5 of my students blocked the door with their feet while another 3 students worked together with 2’x4’s, nails, and hammers, succesfully nailing the door of my bano shut using the bano’s on either side of mine for support. What was supposed to be a relatively short trip to the bano was now going to be a bit longer, thanks to my students. I am still trying to figure out how God wants to use this experience to draw me closer to Him, but I do know that every time I mention Mexico, or if my students see me walking anywhere near a bathroom, they are quick to remind me of the time they nailed me in the bano. Like I need any reminders!

  • Joshua Riffle says:

    My mission trip story starts like this. It was my first full time youth ministry and my first mission trip. My wife was with us and was one month pregnant with our first child, and my other leader was one month pregnant with her and her husband’s fourth child. We were on an inner-city trip to Cleveland, OH and we were doing some community work in the seventh most dangerous city in the nation. To make a long story short we were witness to a shot out between a home owner and a 14 year old boy who was breaking into homes using his bicycle (which one of my teens held for him while he got something to eat at the community event that we were at) and a gun. Needless to say every teenager that was on that trip who witnessed the shooting including myself cannot watch a movie or play a video game without thinking about what happened that day. Praise God that He uses the worst for the best lessons in life!

  • Lee Porter says:

    Several years ago our group took a trip to work in inner city ministries in Dallas, TX. We worked in benevolence thrift shops, food pantries, cleaned up a former crack house to be used as a rehabilitation/transitional house. Our practice has always been that we begin every phase of our trip with prayer. We had a great trip, God truly blessed and challenged all of us. On our way back to Indiana, we headed out and were about 2 hours on the road when the group began to be hungry. We exited into a small town and drove the main road and found no acceptable places to eat…not even fast food. Giving up on our search, we pulled into a church parking lot to turn around. We pulled up to the stop sign, getting ready to turn left to head back to the interstate. Just as I stopped, I looked up to see a pickup flying down the road…no problem, I was stopped. At the last second, the truck decided to turn on the street where we were sitting. I saw the ladies’ eyes very clearly and at that second decided the next eyes I would be seeing would be Jesus’. I screamed to the teens and my wife to hold on. The lady had not slowed at all to make the turn, she cranked the wheel with all she had, I gunned the van and wheeled to the right. Her bumper scarred the plastic cover on our bumper and she continued turning too hard and rammed her truck into a tree in a yard across from the church building. Long story short, she was running from an abusive husband and due to the wreck, the police and protective services got involved…she and her daughter did not suffer any injuries from the wreck. No one in our church van was injured. After the police took statements from all of us, one of the girls came up to me and lovingly put her arm around us and said, “God took care of us, but we forgot to pray before we left…I don’t think we should forget anymore.” To the best of my memory, we have never forgotten again…even when we are just going out to eat or across town. Maybe our prayer account had a few unused credits and God cashed them in for us that day. Praise God for his angels watching over us.

  • Derek says:

    Well, all in youth ministry are very familiar with the thought “I didn’t think I had to say that…”
    in 2008, I took a team of students to Cambodia to do some children’s ministry, serving at an orphanage, evangelism, and medical clinics. We were well prepared, and still found ourselves flying by the seat of our pants most days. I loved it. We were staying in a great Mission house in the heart of the capital city Phnom Penh. It is a great city, but it has a real problem with prostitution and sexual slavery. The students were given guidelines so that they could keep relatively safe. One of these guidelines was that they could leave the house on their spare time if they took one of the 5 leaders with them. They all followed this guideline. When we got back to Canada, I started getting questions from parents, including my Senior Pastor, about the massages in Cambodia. I declared that we wouldn’t know about these Cambodian massages. The questions continued to come. Finally, I dug around a bit to find out what this was all about. One of our leaders and a group of High School boys were walking the mean streets of Phnom Penh Cambodia when they came across a storefront that was offering cheap massages. As I am hearing this story, my heart begins to race. “… so we went inside and had some massages”. I asked A LOT of questions… “Did they take you to the back?” and many others that I will not mention at this time. Turns out, praise the Lord, that they randomly found a legitimate massage place amongst the numerous illegitimate ones.
    I learned two things:
    1. Sometimes in Youth Ministry it is better to learn about things long after the situation has passed, and
    2. When leading a youth mission trip one should always say “… oh, and don’t go to massage parlours”

  • Andrea Sawtelle says:

    Several years back, my Dad took me on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic, while I was in seminary. When I came back, I said, “I am going to take my youth group there some day!” I was completely changed by that experience. I have been a full time youth pastor for 5 years now, and have taken my youth group twice to the Dominican Republic! We have had some amazing experiences. This past summer, we went to La Romana, Dominican Republic. I had one mother in particular that was very concerned with her teenager going on our trip. I assured her he would be fine and that I had been there several times. She decided to allow him to go. We were staying in this hotel (Domincan Style!), where it was normal for the water in the shower to just shut off randomly for long periods of time. One day, we had come back from the work site, where we had been doing heavy cement work and were covered in cement. We had 30 minutes to clean off and get ready to go on a fun excursion. I specifically told our students, you won’t have enough time to shower. Not everyone listened! We loaded up the vehicles, and when we arrived at the excursion place, someone said, “Where’s Travis?” Travis was the son of the woman who was nervous to send him on the trip, and we now had left him 30 minutes away, back at the “hotel!” I felt horrible! I called Travis, crying on the phone, and made sure he was ok! He told me, “I took a shower and got all soaped up, and the water shut off! I waited forever, it finally came back on, and when I went downstairs, you guys were gone! I thought, they must be playing a joke on me. But when you didn’t come back, I realized you really had left!” Now, anytime we go on a trip, even if it is down the street to the Pizza place, someone has to say, “Hey, you left Travis!” Aren’t mission trips awesome experiences!!!

  • Justin Mitchell says:

    The greatest mission trip that I have participated in was one that our youth group went on in 2004 to Jamaica. During this week we opened up a clinic in one of the town in the mountains, built an addition to a church, and did other smaller projects throughout the week. The projects sound easy enough but when you have a lack of resources and supplies it is harder than you think. We took doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc. to the clinic that we opened and for a week we had people lined out the door constantly. Some of the people that came to the clinic had problems that were to large for us to handle so we would try to find a way to get them to the closest hospital. When working with the church building we had to build with cement blocks and cement but the only thing that was holding us back is that there was no access to running water so we would have to hike down the road to a spring and fill 5 gallon buckets of water to take back up the hill to mix with the cement. The whole week was filled with moments like this. There were times when I thought that I would never be able to do something but through those times I felt the presence of God and the strength that he was giving me to complete the task at hand. God truly worked through the whole youth group that week and we knew that it was his strength not ours that completed the work. He was given all of the glory and still is. When we think back about the trip we are encouraged by how God worked through us to glorify his name. Ever since that mission trip I have looked forward to going on mission trips and service projects because I know that God will use these trips to grow me as a christian, as well as bring our youth group together. I can’t wait to go on our next trip!

  • Josh Garber says:

    While on a mission trip to Mexico, we were walking through the villages on a prayer walk. We were split into small teams, each with a translator. Occasionally, we would stop and meet with people in their homes for prayer with our translators. We had a great day praying with the people, but when we met back up to share our awesome experiences, one of our team members, a bubbly, but somewhat shy girl, said she had a different kind of experience. Apparently one of the villagers, an older man, had expressed some serious interest in marrying her and was willing to pay a handsome price for her…the equivalent of $.10 and packet of crackers! We were all dying laughing! For the rest of the trip we kept telling her, “We would have paid at least a quarter!” She thought it was hilarious!

  • Steve Sweeney says:

    Last year while visiting a hospital pediatric cancer ward in Honduras, I ran across a mom & grandma with their 3 year old Jefferson (not a common poor Honduran name, I know). In talking with them we found out Jefferson had a brain tumor that had attacked his vision and he had become blind in a short period of time. Mom & grandma were obviously feeling the weight of the prospects for a poor blind kid in a third world country along with the hurt we all feel for our children in desperate times. But, Seth was with us & I called him over. It just so happens that Seth had a tumor that caused him to go almost completely blind (his vision continues to deteriorate) and he was able to encourage that family and little boy like noone else who would ever visit them. Seth, though virtually blind, plays guitar like a fiend, leads our youth group spiritually, has helped build 2 houses, plays ultimate frisbee & basketball etc, etc, etc. After 20 years doing youth work, watching Seth’s ministry to that family the way only God could have arranged it remains one of my top 5 moments working with kids. We walked away with Jefferson and his family seeing hope in God for this this life and the next.

  • Phillip Millard says:

    Last year, our group from our church in south Arkansas went 3 hours north of our church into an area in northern Arkansas, just an hour from one of the largest universities in arakansas and an hour and half from Little Rock.
    We helped a small church reach their coumity with a Vacation Bible School. Our students reach kids living in poverty, didn’t know who Jesus was, and didn’t even have food and running water at home. the seniors in our group led the church’s youth in a study and really inspired them to begin reaching their friends. It was great for us to see a church and people who needed help right in our own back yard.
    We also led a sports camp at the school’s gym reaching a different group of kids. our students were able to put the principles they had learned in our church’s Upward basketball league to minister to these kids. And by the end of the week, some of these kids were attending VBS also.

  • Jeremy Van Genderen says:

    Our youth ministry sells t-shirts with pictures on the front that represent a book of the Bible and then we put the verse on the back. Well we put a big toilet on the front of our shirt with a verse from John on the back and we went into restaurants and gas stations with name tags and clip boards and announced that we were the toilet inspectors. We would go in and rate each bathroom and then come out and let the staff know how they did. On a couple of them we had low marks and explained to the staff the problems. One restaurant staff didn’t want a low grade on our toilet inspection so he told us all the things they were going to do to bring their bathrooms up to a better level.

  • Randy Henson says:

    Our church went on a mission trip to visit the villages around Oaxaca, Mexico. With us us was a young 20 year old youth worker who was wide eyed and totally excited to be on a mission trip, readily expecting miracles to happen. We were traveling by van on bumpy dirt roads to visit hut churches with dirt floors very impoverished people who were obviously in love with Jesus. Our first night out on the road we were at one of these churches with a tin roof and a dirt floor, no ac and a lot of people. As worship gets going and people are steadily trickling in a rain storm hit suddenly. It was LOUD because of the rain banging on the tin roof. The young youth worker runs up to the pastor and so excitedly asks “Is that the Holy Spirit shaking the building!!!!” He really believed that he was living in Acts 2.

  • Dale Madden says:

    Back when I was a student, we took a missions trip to Saltillo Mexico. When it was time to leave to head back home, my youth pastor decided that we should drive through the night and sleep at the airport, instead of getting up early in the morning to drive. We had a 5-hour drive from Saltillo to Harlingen, Texas where we had flown into.
    About 2 AM, we came up to a police roadblock. The officer at the block was waving his hands in a motion that looked, to all of us, as if he was waving us through…..apparently we were wrong. About 5 minutes later, we see flashing lights coming up behind us. Now it’s important to point out now that we were traveling in 2 white 15 passenger vans. From behind us come two police SUV’s that force us off the road. As we sit there in shock, we see about 20 police officers pour out of these two SUV’s all armed with M-16’s. After we are surrounded, we see an officer come out of each SUV and head to each of the vans. They open each of the driver doors and point pistols at the chest of each or our drivers (our youth pastor and our senior pastors son). We were lucky enough to be giving our translator a ride ot the airport, as well as having one of our youth being fluent in spanish. After about 15 minutes of yelling back and forth between the officers and our interpreters, we are let go. Apparently what is known as a wave to go through in the US means to pull over in Mexico. The best part of this story, is that about 5 minutes after we are back on the road, one of the youth lifts his head off of the bench in front of him and goes, “What’s going on?”. Apparently, he had slept through the entire ordeal!

  • Kristeen Lanning says:

    One of my favorite memories of a mission trip is when I was a student.
    We were in Toronto, ON and we had just finished a long day of ministry doing Vacation Bible School and beach evangelism. The next morning when I had woke up, I felt as if I had gotten little to no sleep. Apparently, the night before I was sleep talking, and the other girls in the room felt like it was an opportunity to be had. They asked me silly questions for an hour or so, then they took it to the next level and tried to get me to sleep walk. It worked! My leaders and fellow students got me to unload the trailer where all of our food was stored in the middle of the night! The next morning I had no recollection of the previous night’s events! (On a side note – it would have been nice to have a Flip camera to have recorded it!)

  • Beau Coffron says:

    WARNING! NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. This happened while I was part of a mission trip team in college. We were in the Ukraine working with orphans out in the country. We had been there for a few weeks when an opportunity arose for a few team members to go to the city on a holiday with a group of the orphans for a special parade. We had our own TP with us for the mission trip but one guy forgot to bring his on the day trip into the city. At some point, nature called and he was trying to find a public restroom, which was almost nonexistent. He finally found one (it had reached emergency status) and took care of business. But without his toilet paper and none to found in a foreign country he didnt know what to do. All he was wearing was board shorts, a t-shirt and sandals (some of the guys were seeing who could go “commando” the longest). There was no one around to help him so he did the only thing he could do…cleanup with TP from the waste basket beside the toilet, since they didnt flush tp there. He didtn want to tell us but when we saw him after that he had this sheepish look on his face that said, “you’ll never guess what I just did”. We still talk about this story to this day and it is one of the funniest and grossest mission stories I have ever heard or been a part of.

  • Brian Swanson says:

    My FIRST mission trip experience that I led had a student who told me that he was going to do a flip out of a playground swing. I communicated that it didn’t sound like a crackerjack of an idea and that maybe he should not attempt it. He was hardheaded, so he went on with the trick. He jumped out, flipped…and broke his ankle upon “landing.” I called his parents to let them know what happened and to ask what they wanted us to do with him. His father informed me that the church would be paying for the return flight home, out of its own pocket. I bewilderly responded that I didn’t want his son to jump out of the swing (let alone do a flip out of it), since that was not on our itinerary. He communicated that our church very much was going to pay for the flight, or pay for “it,” if you know what I’m sayin’. I again shared that his son did this out of his own volition, against warnings and instruction. He did not budge on his position so I called our senior pastor. The pastor was more willing to pay for the kid’s flight than to have the parent have a negative view of the church (he had one anyway). I had the privilege of calling the parent back and let him know that we were going to pay for the flight. His son was not super thrilled to be his son for that week, which helped me love that kid even more than what I already did.

  • Jonathan Witmer says:

    We were in Honduras three years ago ministering in the remote are called La Mosquitia. The only way to get there was to fly into the area, no roads. Once there we took boats through channels to go to local villiages to do our evangelistic program. On our way to one of the villages, our boats got stuck because the channel was so low due to lack of rain. So the guys got out and had to walk push and walk along the shore. It was a slow process bet eventially we made it. The next day we were returning from the village and going to stop at another villiage to do the sunday service. Our boat driver didn’t want to get stuck in the channel so there was an option to bypass that and go in the ocean. He told us he just wanted to go look to see if the ocean was calm but there was no looking, he was going no matter water. We were in a fiberglass boat about 15 feet long and I had half my team on this boat, the other boat wisely took the channel. We go out in the ocean and immediately we hit rough seas, waves between 5-10 feet high breaking on our boat and soaking us. Our boat driver kept going and so we were thrown all around as we are getting air from the waves and trying to hold on to make sure we all stayed in the boat. this was a 3o minute ride that seemed like eternity. my prayer life immediately improved as i prayed for good to keep us safe. it was a scarry situation, i remember it was fathers day and i was thinking i may never see my kids again. the kicker to all of this is no one in the boat had life jackets. anyway, God was gracious and we made it through the ocean and back into the channel and docked at this little village. we were soaked and a little rattled. i remember thinking i have to get my thoughts togeher and preach. as our team walked to this little church, one of my team members said-almost dying traveling to church and going to church soaked, these are all new experiences that i will never forget!

  • Randy Moore says:

    We spent 10 months planning an Amazing Race styled mission trip across Texas. 1100 miles in 10 days. We had the full compliment of “Road Blocks”, “Detours”, Yields” and “Fast Forwards”. I had done everything in my power to make this as much like the TV show as possible, even to the point that the 100 kids and adults, including our driver had NO CLUE where we would go or how long we would be there from one place to the next. It created a real urgency to complete whatever task they were given. Everything was going great, no problems at all until day 8. We had just completed a 36 hour renovation of a community center in a small town. On our way to the next pit stop we had 1 detour and a road block. This meant our groups had to get moving. I was pulling the trailer with the luggage for all 100 people. I went to hooked the trailer up and started down the road. After going over a bump the back of the trailer opened up and the luggage began to fall down the ramp/ door. I stopped and with no one near by and realizing I left my cell at meet up spot, I was forced to cram the stuff back in the trailer. I was able to lift the ramp back up and smush everything back inside. I needed to get money out of our account to give to the teams to grab lunch. When I stopped to get out the money from an ATM I realized when I got out what was needed, the receipt showed our balance at 0. We should have had over 10,000. So I jumped in the truck headed to our meeting point passed out the money, sent the groups on their way and called the bank. Somehow in setting up the account. We made it to where only one of the two of us that had planned the trip was on the account. They wouldn’t let me check the balance. My friend on the account was at the detour and had no cell signal. So after a 45 minute argument over the phone, in which I was able to give every answer the lady need, I was still in the dark on our balance. I was meeting up with everybody at the Road block, which was painting a house in a small community. When I arrived there I was greeted with the news that the church we were staying at 2 hours away was locking its doors in 3 hours. Our problem now was We had to feed 100 people pizza which wasn’t there yet and finish this house in an hour or no one was getting a shower. So I am calling the pizza place, we are cracking the whip getting the house done and make it to the churches family life center with 10 minutes to spare. So it takes a couple of hours to get the whole group showered and cleaned up. (side note one student stuck his arm in the drain of the giant whirlpool tub and was bruised from shoulder to hand) It is just after 11 pm. There isn’t much more that could make this day worse in and hour – WRONG,We are leaving the FLC to head to our sleeping arrangements when I get to the truck carrying the luggage and realize I have left my keys inside. The doors are locked and we are stuck. Luckily one of our group sees a security guard inside and is able to get him to make his way to the front door to help us. While I am waiting for him I notice my shoe is untied. I lift my leg up to tie it when an excurtiating pain happens in my knee. I shredded my partially torn acl tying my shoe. It was known as the day of disaster, I shaved my head as a reminder of that day. Even through all of that God worked mightly to bring people to him and I wouldn’t change a second. Just wish I had a flip with me to capture all the excitement.

  • Luis says:

    I was part of a team that went to Belfast, Northern Ireland. This was my 3rd time going there but the first time that we ever took high school students – it was usually collage students that went. One of the things that we did almost every year we went was have a baptism day at the Irish sea for anyone on our team who wanted to be baptized. One of the guys on my team wouldn’t stop talking about how he was going to get baptized in the Irish Sea, he was super excited about it. On the day we were going to do the baptism we were all down in the lobby of our youth hostel waiting for one of the vans to arrive. While we were waiting the guy that was super excited about his baptism told another guy on our team that he was going back up to his room. Shortly after that the other van arrived, we loaded both vans, & drove off to the Irish Sea. Once we got there we lined everyone up to get baptized only to find out that we were missing one of my guys. That’s when we were told that the missing boy went back to his room. So the baptisms took place without him.

    Meanwhile, the young man eventually woke up and came down from his room only to find that we are all gone. He steps outside and flags a cab & tells the driver to take him to the Irish Sea. The driver starts laughing and he responds back to the boy, “Where exactly, the Irish Sea is pretty big.” The boy tells him to go where he thinks people would do a baptism & again the driver laughs. Then the boy tells the driver to drive to a certain road – the road that the church was on – & to drive up it until he finds the church. He gets to the church, sits out front, & waits until we get there. Several hours later we arrive at the church & we ask him what happened. The boy responds, “I was preparing my heart for ministry and no one came up to get me.” Instantly laughter broke out and someone responds by asking if sleeping is really categorized as ministry prep. The boy started laughing admitted that he had fallen asleep and missed his baptism.

  • Tim Houk says:

    I took a group of students to a week of ministry at a camp for inner city kids from St. Paul, MN. Our group was counselors for kids that were bused from the inner city to a nearby suberb where the camp facilities were. In the evenings, we would debrief from the day and spend time in worship at the camp in a dorm-type building. At the same time that we were there, there was a group of teenagers that were at the camp, staying in the same hall. Our doors didn’t lock, and we didn’t think anything of that, until one night when we came back to the room (after spending time in worship) to find a great many things missing. The students were quite upset and so we confinded them to the room while the camp staff was notified and called the cops. To deal with the frustration, the guys videoed the recap of the weeks events and wrote a song about the experience. We have a great video, the students were refunded what they had lost, and we have memories that will never be forgotten. I will e-mail a copy of the video. I don’t feel that it should be posted openly, but I think you will get a kick out of it!

  • Dave Hirschler says:

    I’ve been in youth ministry for 25 years — WAY too many stories to fit here — I’ll highlight a few of my favorites… I’ve been at my current church 12 years – we’re in a somewhat rural area in south-central Ohio. We went to Philadelphia and had to take the subway. One of my students (who is VERY hick-ish) rather loudly said “I ain’t never been on no trolley before,” as I’m telling him desperately to SHUT-UP because we were surrounded by a bunch of gangstas from West Philly, he continues, “I’ve only been in my Grandma’s car.” It’s a wonder we weren’t jumped right then and there! A couple years later, we returned to Philly — we arrived a day early, so my kids wanted to check out the city and we had some time the night before. As I’m driving my van down the street, I notice an “adult” store with some “inappropriate” displays in the window ahead to my right, so I yell, “LOOK LEFT” — only to be horrified to discover there is a “working girl” plying her trade wearing a postage-stamp sized miniskirt over to our left. I quickly just yelled “CLOSE YOUR EYES!!!” We also went to Oklahoma on our mission trip with much of the same group of kids — some of them decided to prank me and take my clothes while I was showering. They left me a VERY small towel and I am somewhat large. I threatened them that I would come out IN the towel to retrieve my clothes — they chickened out and brought them to me when the saw the door open and a leg emerge. Of course, it’s awesome to see the lives of my students changed after one of these weeks — he have lots of stories to tell — funny, but many of them heartwarming and encouraging because one of them all of a sudden “got it” or they were part of someone hearing and responding to the Gospel!

  • Brett Householder says:

    We were on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota one summer. After our first day of work, we went and took showers at the local high school. Upon returning to the church we were staying at, we were welcomed back with an incredibly foul stench. As I walked down to the basement of the church I saw that it had been turned into an indoor sewage swimming pool! 1200 gallons to be exact. I was a volunteer at the time. Our fearless leader said that he would go and find us a place to stay and that I should lead the “recovery mission” in the basement and get everyone’s stuff out of the building. While, leading the effort one of our big tough jock guys passed out from heat exhaustion. After calling the ambulance and giving him some water, he told me that all he had to ear or drink that 100 degree day was a pop tart and eight mountain dews! In the distance, I could see our youth director walking triumphantly toward the church. I of course stopped him and told him of our fallen student. After a few liters of IV fluids at the local hospital, he was fine. Our new place to stay was a one bathroom, four bedroom house, FOR 36 OF US! It was an amazing week of community building, grace, mercy and God showing up in a big way! One of the best week’s of my life.

  • Tukacungurwa Deo says:

    it was last year when i went Gulu -northern part of Uganda.it was my first time to go there and went to sacred heart secondary school and was told to lead prayer.immediately I began praises and worship and it was very nice and powerful that really every one enjoyed.later I shared the word of God and students were surely touched.after I entered the ministry and as I began calling the power of the holy spirit some began falling dawn and screaming.it was surprisingly that the students begun opening their eyes to see what was happening and got hold of their seats that they could not fall dawn.but the power was uncontrolable until it was a very serious deliverance and healing ministry and when students saw those who were healed they shouted loud until people from out side came to see what was happening.and they were also touched. after the ministry we had to go for social hours and students were imetating the way the demons were screaming and began commanding them to leave.after we left social hour for lunch and unfortunately found that the food they had prepared for us we had never eaten and had to eat bread giving an exercuse that we are ok but it was discovered that it was fear and became the fun of the day that caused everyone to laugh.however we were filled with alot of joy and could not mind about food.at our derpature the students of secred heart began craying and some of our girls.

  • Gretchen McCullough says:

    While doing my Youth Ministry Internship, we decided to join CAN-DO Missions on a mission trip down to Saltillo, Mexico. We coordinated with another Lutheran Church who had done this trip before. Things were rough down along the border of Texas and Mexico, but we still took 5 students from my church. The other church, who had signed up for 12 students took one! It was ironic because it was my church that was so worried about safety and after listening to the adults and previous mission trip experiences they decided to jump on in. We were lucky enough to get a wonderful young adult to join us as our translator but all the music and crafts had been left up to me. I had been practicing the music for months on my guitar. I didn’t speak Spanish so I was so afraid of mispronouncing anything. To invite kids to join us for VBS each day we would walk around the neighborhood singing songs while a mom would tell all the kids join us. We held VBS in the evening but during the day we worked on the church. We were helping to put concrete on the roof. As the week progressed the youth began enjoying singing old Sunday school songs in Spanish. Their favorite song was “I’ve got peace like a river.” One day, while working up on the roof 4 of the girls (including our translator) began singing this song, with action and all. Now, the Spanish song was slightly different form how I learned it as a little girl. When you would get to the part of in my soul, you would jump up with your arms raised high and say, “ALLELUIA!” really loud. So these 4 girls are on top of the church roof singing their hearts out and a fruit truck drives by. The driver is so shocked at the sight and intent on watching them, he almost drives off the road into a telephone poll. Luckily he corrected himself in time and continued on down the road. It was such a joy to see these kids who wouldn’t sing along and thought they were too cool, up on top of a roof in Mexico giving praises to God.

  • Dan Mershon says:

    This all happened in one trip. I had a boy in my youth group named Alex Fred. Alex’s ADD had ADD. He was hyperactive, impulsive, hilarious, in the 7th grade (so adolescently stupid), and his voice sounded like a squeaky audrey hepburn. From the start Alex had a hard time keeping his clothes on. At night he told us he slept in the nude (we were on my friend’s back porch). After everyone giggled and argued with him for two hours I eventually said “I don’t care what you’re not wearing as long as you stay in your sleeping bag!” He threw his underwear at the nearest student who had said he wouldn’t go through with it. Unbeknownst to me that student threw his underwear in the yard. In the morning while we were all eating breakfast waiting for everyone to wake up, I looked out the window and saw Alex walking naked across the back yard to fetch his underwear. Cereal went out my nose and all over those eating with me.
    We went to innercity Memphis, TN to work on houses. Pasty white 4 foot nothing Alex bought a doo rag at the gas station and walked around strutting saying to all the neighbor’s “What’s up my homeboy?”
    On our free half day, we went to the Mall. Alex got so hyper on the way to the mall that the leader from the mission trip company hog tied Alex with the seatbelt and duct tape. Alex yelled, “I don’t care what you do to me it’s not half as bad as what you did to Jesus!”
    We went to the mall to hang out. There was a shop there that was converted to a news station so you could watch them filming the 5:00 news through the window. Alex ran and smashed his face to the window banging on it in the middle of filming. Security brought Alex to me. I told them I’d never seen him before in my life. Then grabbed Alex and ran. We were walking to the hard rock cafe on Beale ST. and Alex stated that he didn’t appreciate all these bars and sinners and that they offended his christianity. I told him that if he didn’t get out of his christian bubble he’d never make a difference in the world. We got to hard rock and were eating our dinner when George Michael’s “I want your sex” came on the video screen. In the middle of the crowded restaraunt Alex Fred covered his ears and started yelling, “Get out of my Christian bubble, get out of my Christian bubble.” Over and over.
    On the last day of work, the showers were a mess with everyone’s forgotten bars of soap, dirty underwear, shampoo bottles, etc. While showering teens from across the nation were throwing said items at everyone showering. I did my 30 second shower and ran. They started throwing items at Alex. Alex apparently threatened to come out naked if they didn’t stop. They continued. When I got to Alex he had chased a kid into the toilet stall and was doing the twist while the other student was in the fetal position on the commode. Alex got dressed and we had a talk. I said “Alex, they were throwing stuff at me and you don’t see me showing off my goods do you?” He replied with that graveling squeaky voice, “They were good weren’t they Dan? It’s like a forest down there!”
    There was a stray dog that kept coming around the house. I’m a dog person, but refused to become attached to this dog or feed it knowing that I’d get hooked. The students however kept feeding it pop tarts. On the last day of work they were begging to take Alice, as they’d named her, with us. I said that was preposterous and that the most we’d do was take Alice to the local shelter. We got to the shelter and in front of my students the lady in charge said with a twangy southern accent, “Don’t leave that dog here. We put down 240 dogs last week, we’re just gonna kill it.” The students went nuts. “Don’t kill Alice, Dan!” “Jesus loves Alice Dan!” “What would Jesus do?” So I finally relented and said we’d take Alice home with us. While we were there at the shelter we heard yelping and found 4 puppies inside a rain drain. 4 hours later we’re still trying to get 2 puppies out. I started the trip with 11 middle schoolers and no dogs. I was leaving with 11 teenagers and 3 dogs. Exactly 3 dogs more than I wanted. Alice was fine in the van during the day, but traveling at night (since I now had a dog and no one was willing to let the dog stay over) Alice started barking everytime headlights passed through the windows. We bought Alice a collar and a bone to chew on to keep her quiet. I told the kids that I didn’t know if Alice had had her shots or not and not to mess with her while she was chewing on her bone. Alex tried to put the collar on her while she was chewing on her bone. She didn’t bite Alex. She barely nipped him. There was the tiniest scrape on his thumb. The next thing I hear from our students is, “Get rid of Alice, Dan! Alice loves Satan, Dan! We hate Alice!” Like a heartless robot I pulled off on a country road and left Alice at a small country church with a new collar, a bowl of food, a bowl of water, and my broken heart. The puppies went to the shelter when we got home.

  • Gretchen McCullough says:

    Okay, I probably shouldn’t be doing two, but as I sent this one I remember a very funny story. I was working part time at a church in Houston in youth ministry and part time in the preschool. The high school youth had decided we were going to Savannah, GA with Group Workcamps for a mission trip this summer. We had a great time making the 20 hour trip together, being silly, but the best thing happened while working on a little old woman’s house. With Group workcamps they split up people so you work with more than just people from your church. I was working with 5 youth I didn’t know until that week. We were assigned to scrap of paint and then paint a little old lady’s window sills and shutters. We found out that on the last day was her birthday so we decided to get her a small little cake from Walmart. At lunch time she always invited us into her home to cool off and we suprised her by singing happy birthday with the cake. As I neared her hold what is about a 1/8 of a sheet cake, the cake slid off the tray and straight into her lap. not only that but she was wearing white pants and the frosting was hot pink. She starting laughing and we all joined in, even though I turned as red as can be. She said this was her best birthday in a long time and she really appreciated it.

  • Dan Mershon says:

    Every year we go to SOS in Memphis, TN. On our free day we go to hard rock on beale st and then to a bar to sing karaoke. Yes, I’m a youth pastor and I take my students to a bar to sing karaoke on Beale St. on Biker Day. I asked the barkeep for the hardest non alcoholic beverage he had. He said he could make me an icee. I told him to make it a double. Our boys took the stage and began singing “I feel like a woman” to a bunch of burly bikers. I thought I was going to soil myself.

  • Dan Mershon says:

    Showering at mission trips is always a difficult thing for us adults. No one thought anything of it 30 years ago. Now, it’s a law suit waiting to happen. And if there’s no adult in the bathroom it’s still a lawsuit waiting to happen because those middle school monkeys will do something horrendous. SOS has a nicer showering facility. individual stalls. Not the curtains that only cover a cheek, but stalls. So we all get to enjoy taking separate showers together. Neil was a student of mine who had a form of autism. He never left my side and asked the same questions over and over and over and over again. We loved Neil, but it does get wearisome on a week long trip where I’m sleeping on the concrete floor so my students can all stay in the same “pod” and still have an adult to keep them in tow. One day while I was showering, Neil got in the stall next to me. I was washing my hair when I felt something brush against me. Neil had climbed over the stall and was hanging in my shower. I screamed. Neil fell in my stall. Naked Neil in my stall. He looked up at my shampoo bottle (normal bottle) and said in his loud autistic voice, “Dan, yours is bigger than mine!” He was holding his small hotel bottle shampoo. Everyone in line for the showers just heard what he had said, not knowing about the shampoo bottles. So I said in my loudest inconspicous voice, “It’s ok buddy, not everyone gets the blue ribbon.” I then put a towel on and escorted Neil back to his shower.

  • Dan Mershon says:

    We went to work at a homeless shelter in Athens, Ohio called “Good Works”. They had us doing basic chores and helping with the gardening and such to get food for those who stayed there. One girl on our trip was incredibly bratty. Her mom made her come and came with her for a mother daughter bonding experience. It was horrible. The whole time the girl was insulting her mom. During dinner when her mom asked for more potatoes the girl said, “Sure fatty here’s another helping.” Things like that. I wanted to smack the young lady. But I refrained and trusted God. The next morning they assigned us to our jobs. The young lady was sent to stack fire wood and literally threw a fit. I heard something about her nails and then the profanity flew out. I asked if she’d rather come with me and that we were shoveling compost. She said yes. About half way into our day she said, “Dan what’s compost.” We were shoveling a pile of compost that had been mixed with some animal excrement and the smell was getting to her. So I informed her of what we were shoveling. She started swearing and cussing and telling us all how these homeless people got what they deserved and that she shouldn’t have to shovel this …. when all of the sudden Chad threw back a shovel full of the compost and it landed right in her mouth. You should have heard the crap coming out of her mouth then. Chad insists that it was an accident, but man I hope he did it on purpose. I believed in God then, but use this event as full evidence that God exists and that God is good.

  • Grant T. Byrd says:

    I took a trip with a small group of students into the interior of Ukraine. Chernotz was the small town. The people were so kind and giving and didn’t really have anything to give. They were very poor in money but not in spirit. Each day we ate breakfast early and then walked around the countryside visiting people telling them about how much Jesus loves them. Lunch was not until 4 pm and then supper was not until 11 pm!
    Each night the church members would gather for what they thought was a delicious meal. They went all out and it was very fancy but very strange food.
    Every morning we would wake to a rooster crowing very early! Then this crazy dog would bark at the rooster right outside our window. The windows were open because there wasn’t enough money to run the electricity but a few hours a day.
    One morning the rooster didn’t crow but the dog barked at some other little noise and woke us up. That night at our special 11pm dinner there was a strange dish. It looked like chicken in a clear broth. The only problem was that when I touched the broth with my spoon to dish it out, it jiggled. I discovered that it was jello instead. Chicken in jello. No, correction, rooster in jello. They were so kind as to kill their rooster to feed all of us.
    We very excitedly devoured the special jello meal. That night after the meal when we were about to go to sleep, Jody, the teen that was staying with me, made a very poignant statement.
    Jody said, in his very country boy accent, “If that dog don’t bark tomorrow morning, I ain’t eating tomorrow night!”
    God gave us the blessing that week of seeing lots of people, who would never go to church but allowed some weird American people into their homes to tell them about the good news of Jesus Christ!

  • Robb Pierce says:

    Lost in Translation in Mexico

    In late 2007, I was in Mexico on a missions trip outreach to some Indians. We joined a Mexican church to go with and assisted them. We slept in tents on cots, and showered out of a bucket. One evening, after I finished showering, and was all dried off, it was very cool outside. I motioned to a brother from the Mexican church and tried to use some Spanish I’d learned to ask him to give me my jacket that was next to him. He shook his head no, and put his hands up. I asked him about 2 or 3 more times, and each time he looked more and more scared. One of the brothers who is fluent in both languages asked me what I was saying, so I told him I wanted my jacket. He corrected me with the proper way to ask, and told me that I was actually asking him for sexual pleasures. I then immediately turned red and told the brother I was sorry, corrected the statement and he then realized what I was trying to say. No joke, some time later, again, cold outside. I saw the brother’s wife shivering, and in a joking manner, again in my textbook Spanish, asked her if she was hot? She turned bright red, shook her head no, and ran. Her dad, a Pastor, came up and asked me in English what I was trying to say, so I told him, and he corrected me in the proper way to say it, and told me that I had just asked his daughter if she was sexually hot. I was like, oh great, this family thinks I’m a perv. No more Spanish for me, because I’m not going to jail as a sex offender. Bad times. God is good though, because all was made well, and He was really at work and still is.

  • Jeremy Little says:

    We were in Toronto, Canada working mostly with the homeless and less fortunate of the city. One of the first days we were getting to know the city and it’s culture. We went to the gay and lesbian district where there are several bars and clubs and they are very outspoken about who they are the lifestyle they live. It also happened to be gay pride weekend.
    We decided we were going to walk down one street from one end of the district to the other in pairs. We just wanted to experience the area and take it all in. We were supposed to meet up at the end of the street to talk about what we had seen and experienced and what we thought about it. When we got to the end we were missing two of our girls. I couldn’t find them anywhere! We looked for more than 20 minutes. We even went all the way back up the street. In the end we found them around the corner from where we were supposed to meet. One of them was huddled in a corner almost in the fetal position because she was so shocked and couldn’t believe what she had just seen. These kids were from a small country town and had never experienced anything like this. She eventually recovered and even forgave me for making her do it. But that took a few days.
    On a side note, there was a group of people that called me and my friend a very unattractive gay couple as we were walking down the street that day. We still laugh about that 2 years later

  • Joe Johnson says:

    We went to Romania to help a new Church train and equip their leaders to reach out to the local college. It was going great, and we had a night where we made them an “american” meal of some barbeque chicken. afterwards they enjoyed it so much, they decide to offer us a “traditional” romanian meal the next night. The Pastor of the romanian church began to tell the youth and the leaders what an important meal we would b sharing, he even explained it beforehand that to refuse it would be insulting to the cooks who worked so hard. The youth were slowly nodding in hesitation as they wondered what it was. The pastor then pulled the lid off of the plate and revealed a plate full of chicken feet and heads. The youth gulped as the plate was passed around and a chicken foot or head was put on their plate. They slowly began to nibble on them as the romanian pastor burst in laughter at his joke on them. they were relieved they didn’t have to eat them, but afterwards the romanian pastor and I proceeded to have a chicken fight with the feet to show him our “appreciation”

  • Joe Johnson says:

  • Joe Johnson says:

    not sure if you allow pictures, but in case you’re curious… the delicacy looked like this http://i64.photobucket.com/albums/h187/hiddenmanna777/romania103.jpg

  • Greg Marshall says:

    We were doing VBS in one of the poorest areas in Sav La Mar, Jamaica in a new church building that we’d built the year previously. The week was a huge success. We had 350 kids on the last day & we’d seen about 20 kids come to Christ. We finished our program and dismissed the kids. As the last ones were leaving the building, I realized that we had not given away the blow up beach balls we’d brought for the kids.

    I stepped outside and yelled for the kids to come back and line up to get their beachballs. That’s when the riot started. Kids were pushing and shoving to get to the front of the line. They were pushing me back and reaching into the box for the beachballs. The pushed me up against a car about 10 feet from the front of the church.

    I yelled, “If you can’t line up, then no beachballs for you!” and threw the box over my head to one of our leaders who was standing in the door of the church. He ran inside and shut the door. All the kids rushed the doors and started banging and yelling for “their beachballs”.

    That’s when I realized I was stuck outside with 300 angry, screaming kids. I snuck around the side of the building and started banging on the door. My pastor’s wife was inside yelling back at me, “No beachballs for you!” As the kids started pouring around the side of the building, she finally let me in.

    We were stuck for about an hour in the building before the mob finally dispersed.

  • Greg Marshall says:

    The year after the riot (see story above), we returned to again do VBS at the same church (this time minus the beachballs). Again, great year over 350 kids came on the last day. I was giving the invitation and just as I was saying, “bow your heads and close your eyes” —- a teenage boy in the front row stood up and punched another boy in the face. The 2nd boy fell backwards into the seats on the second row then jumped up and attacked the kid who had punched him. The two were seriously throwing some major blows.

    My adult leaders jumped up and grabbed the kids before another riot broke out and I just kept on going with the invitation. I said something like, “The devil wants to distract you right now, but don’t let him. Ignore what’s going on up front and concentrate on what’s happening in your heart.”

    God worked & about 30 kids received Christ!

  • Greg Marshall says:

    Having led several teams to Jamaica, I was bringing along another one of our pastors to show him the ropes. We had 17 people with us as we went through security in Pittsburgh. I went through first and he brought up the rear. Everyone made it through but him.

    As his bag was going through the metal detectors, they pulled him aside & asked him to open his bag. He brought out several items & the guy kept saying, No, we’re looking for something that looks like a necklace.” Flustered, he kept pulling stuff out of the bag. When the bag was empty he began on the side pockets. As he opened the second pocket, I saw his face go white & a look of fear.

    He pulled out a Wrist Rocket SlingShot! He’d confiscated it from some kids at summer camp a couple weeks before and completely forgot it was in his bag. After some quick explaining, they confiscated it and filled out some paper work, but not before we had all taken pictures and ribbed him pretty good.

    Since the officers seemed to be in a good mood & were joking with us, one of the kids asked if they would handcuff him for a picture. They started to say yes, but then their supervisor came by and made everyone get back to work.

  • Greg Marshall says:

    OK, OK, so I posted a few times. Sorry! Missions has been an incredible blessing personally and for our church. The scary thing is that I was almost not involved. My senior pastor led the first two trips. When they would come back, I’d hear the stories and see the pictures and think, “It’s great that you went, but the missions field is not for me. Jamaica’s hot and I’m a BIG guy. I’d melt in the heat.”

    Of course, after that second trip, my pastor came back and TOLD me that I was leading the next trip. Wasn’t a request. I went, it was hot. I didn’t melt — but my heart did! Now, I’ve led teams for the past 8 years and have been truly blessed.

    I could post story after story:

    1. The time we ate curried goat and all the kids jumped up to make sure it wasn’t the goats in the front yard that we’d befriended during our stay.

    2. The time we had to send an adult leader home due to kidney stones and our experience with the 911 call that took four hours to get a response and the poor medical treatment.

    3. The time I choked on a dry roll and passed out only to wake up with one of our male team members getting ready to give me mouth to mouth.

    4. The time I was questioned by Jamaican security when I brought in VBS supplies – “Mr. Marshall, why do you need 20 cans of shaving cream and lighter fluid?”

    I guess if I had a Flip camera, I could record all this stuff, eh?

  • Matt says:

    I was just out of High School and took a trip to Panama for a month. We spent a majority of our time in Panama City with the exception of one week. Our group was going to spend a week in the jungle of Panama away from all of the modern convinces of life. Our group had to travel hours by boat to get to our location. The scenery was breath taking. Going down a river in the middle of a jungle is something I will never forget. One of the reasons I won’t forget it is that we had a major problem on our travel. As we were going down the river we had three separate canoes we were traveling in. Two of them were for us and one was for our luggage. We had been traveling for several hours when it began to rain. And it rained for quite some time. During our trip down the river one of the girls got sick and we had to take her to shore. She was short of breath and was blacking out. We all got out of the canoe and began praying for her. After a few minutes she began to feel better. As we got back to the canoes we noticed that our canoe with our luggage for the week was sinking. We all ran over to the canoe and began bailing out the water. After bailing out the water, we were finally able to continue to our destination in the jungle. No one really knew how bad our belongings were until we got to our camp site for the night. We took our stuff out and almost all of it was soaking wet. All of our clothes for the week were wet and we had no way to dry them. The village we were at had no electricity, no running water (except for the river). The problem with a rain forest is that is stays humid so nothing dried all week long. Although all of our belongings got wet and we smelled like mildew all week, God did some amazing things that week. I will never forget that week as long as I live.

  • […] a shot at winning a Flip Video camera? Just enter the contest over on the Simply Insider blog and take a shot! Simply Youth Ministry is giving away three of the cameras to the best mission […]

  • Matt Reeve says:

    Our youth ministry, combined with another youth group, were headed to Mexico by charter bus. I was having a very difficult time falling asleep so another youth pastor friend offered a couple of his prescribed sleep aid pills. I took them, laid back in the seat and within a few moments I was out cold. What took place next is still all a blur but there were plenty of witnesses to the event. The bus pulled in to a truck stop to refuel and the driver came on over the intercom saying “15 minute break”. I sat up, stood up and walked off the bus walking aimlessly around the parking lot. I did this with a few of the other leaders watching and laughing. I finally walked up to a trucker and told him “I have to go potty”. He gave a strange look and pointed me to the bathrooms. I still to this day do not remember getting back on the bus or falling back asleep. But to this day I will not take any kind of sleep aid and there are a few who still ask me if I have to go potty.

  • Josh Maxwell says:

    Our youth ministry went on a mission trip with Group Workcamps last sumemr to Puerto Rico. It was a great week of ministry and our students were able to realize that they could share the Gospel of Christ to those who were not a direct part of their culture through doing manual labor. When the week was over and we were in the airport ready to depart I let the students do some last minute souvenir shopping in the airport terminal. About 20 minutes before our flight was scheduled to leave my wife came up to me and told me that one of our students, Tim, thought it would be fun to run through a turn style door and continue to run around it. What he didn’t notice was that the door was exit only, although the big bright English letters spelling out “Exit Only” were very hard to miss. So he made it to the outside of the airport and when he tried to continue to push his way back in an alarm sounded and he was stuck outside, without his boarding pass, or any form of identification. So my wife who would handle this situation much better then myself took his bag with his information and brought it to him, then they both had to trek back around the airport and back through security. I was preparing my other leaders to go on with out me because I felt for sure that they weren’t going to make it back in time for the flight. I sat down in my seat on the plane and notified the flight attendant that I might have to exit before the flight took off because of two missing passengers, but low and behold 2 minutes before our scheduled departure they made it. Tim was pretty upset, and there wasn’t too much laughing about the whole situation until well after we returned. But I’ll never forget the picture they took of him on the other side of the glass wall with the bright “Exit Only” sign illuminated above his head, and his sad defeated face.. Priceless.

  • Cindy says:

    Ok, so we took a group of teens to tennessee for a habitat-for-humanity project. When we left home, we thought we were going to be installing cabinets in the kitchen and painting inside. It was late july, with RECORD high temperatures. As we drove up to our assigned house, our construction manager, (let’s call him ‘Joe’), was waiting for us. Imagine his delight(?) as 7 GIRLS and 2 guys jumped out of the van, and our project was actually roofing, siding, and installing windows and doors! We hadn’t practiced, um, hammering, drilling, etc. On top of this, ‘Joe’ had just finished a miserable week with 200 teens that did not accomplish what had been planned, and now he was DONE with teenagers for awhile. My teens stood up to the challenge, learned alot, including how to ‘remove’ shingles that were not done correctly, endured some unkind comments, and altogether worked super-hard to do the best that they could. Not only did we complete the roof, siding, window, and door install, the kids also managed to turn the heart of ‘Joe’ back around and give him the encouragement he needed to keep up in ministry! As a side note, we also called our pastor back home and asked the church to pray for cooler weather for us, they did, and by the end of the week it had dropped down to the lower 90’s, with some clouds, that gave us a huge break up on the roof. We thank our Lord for using us in ways that we did not expect ! ! !

  • Lourdes Wilcox says:

    Last year a group of 15 of us went on mission to Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. We had originally planned to leave in early July, but due to passport delays the trip was postponed to August (hurricane season). We diligently worked on our material. We planned to do VBS during the day and Youth Encounter in the evenings. We soon realized God had different plans for us when we found out Cuba had not approved our missionary. After much prayer and discussion we came to the conclusion that if God had raised the funds, provided us with permission from the US Department of the Treasury to travel to a communist country, and had assembled His team, then we would go! The decision to trust God and proceed with the plans motivated us and brought a mixture of apprehension and excitement to the team. We immediately realized upon arrival that God was going to be in charge of this mission trip. The island was on alert due to hurricane Gus. All methods of transportation had been shut down and we were 8 hours away from our destination. We began to call every single car rental place we could find. Prior to us leaving the US, one of the missionaries asked if we could visit her great aunt who lived approximately an hour from Havana and who was dying of cancer. We had agreed we would visit her on our return from Sancti Spiritus. Again, our plans, not God’s. As I was making the calls I heard God speak. He wanted us to go visit Nicole’s great aunt and pray over her. His direction was clear…If you obey, I will bless you. I hung up the phone, gathered the team, and shared with them the message I had received from the Lord. Everyone agreed. We would visit Nero. Would you know it? There were four taxi cabs right in front of the hotel, the exact number of cabs we needed. My cousin who lives in Cuba would continue to make phone calls. As soon as we arrived at Nero’s house, her daughter came out to greet us and to let us know that my cousin had called. He had secured the transportation we needed. We visited, we prayed, we sang, we shared the gospel and God moved powerfully. Five people in that house accepted the Lord. Nero, who had not been able to leave her bed for weeks, got up, visited with us and even drank some juice. It was a joyous moment. A few hours later we were on our way to more miracles.

  • David says:

    This is one of those “Ugly” stories of a youth pastor submitting to peer pressure. Back in the days when you could take a group to Mexico, without losing you job because of a parent revolt, we did a lot of driving on dirt roads. If you have been to Mexico you know that minor things can happen based on these friendly streets… so we always rented vehicles. We had some small things like flat tires and broken cables that held up the spares under a mini van, etc. So one year we rented Ford Explorers instead of minivans so we could drive with much more confidence. There was always this great stretch of road that had a couple big bumps that the kids all got amp’d up for. Most leaders would drive a little rowdy, but within the confines of safety. However, I was a 23 year old youth pastor at the time, and didn’t necessarily follow the guides of safety… especially when students would egg me on. I was driving along this particular stretch and decided that the Explorer could handle a rough bounce or two. One thing led to another and I realized that I was going a little bit too fast (probably 30ish on the dirt road) straight into one of these bumps. Instead of letting the car take the dip I braked, which is bad news because it points the nose of the car down. When we hit the bump the car from hit followed by the back when it completed its journey through the dip (I was later told that we got some air). The only problem is that amidst the yells and broken starbucks frappuccino bottles in the back I realized that the back rear door wouldn’t shut. It turns out that my peer pressure expedition bent the frame of the Explorer to the point where the door wouldn’t shut nice and tightly.

    I got out of the car and practically threw up with all the anxiety and tension that built up into my system. To the students I became the stuff of legend (this is now one of the top ten reasons I should have lost my job by now), but I was ultimately sick and disgusted with myself. I learned a lot in that two minute time span.

    Lucky for us the insurance didn’t charge us anything and neither did the rental place. I am still waiting for enough time to pass to use this as a sermon illustration in “big church”, but I don’t know how long it takes to earn forgiveness and to see some humor in learning humility.

  • Alan says:

    I have 2 stories and I will keep them short.

    In ’97 I was volunteer with a church and every year we took 8th graders into mexico. I was assigned to be in charge of building a house (no clue what I was doing) and 2 teams from our group would come in at different times and do work. One day in between groups I needed some supplies so I went off to the next site to get them. As I was walking along smiling at the kids playing in the street and enjoying the 120 degree weather. A bronco pulled up next to me with tinted windows so I could not see in the truck. He drove along side of me for about 30 seconds and then rolled down the window and motioned for me. I went over there to talk to him (mistake), he asked me what I was doing and I told him we were down here with a church that was two blocks away building houses. Then the driver said, don’t you know it is dangerous walking the streets and I could get killed, (I think I almost went in my pants.) Then he got out to check something in front of his truck and when he got closer to me and we both noticed that I was about a 1 1/2 taller than him and he got back in his truck and drove off never to be seen again. I think we were both a little intimidated that day.

    I am now a paid youth pastor and I took a group to the Dominican Republic for a two week trip in ’06. We knew a couple that was working with an orphange down there and so we went down to do work with them. About 3 days into a 2 week trip I starting getting this white bumps on my palms, the woman that we went down to work with was a nurse and she told me they were nothing to worry about and all I had to do was take these pills and that would get rid of them. The couple and I decided to play a trick on the rest of the group and tell them that these bumps were highly contagious and very painful and I was just hiding my pain so I would not scare anyone. The couple told everyone while I was unloading the truck so when I came in the house where we were staying I purposely tried to touch (appropriately) everyone to get some reactions. One boy was so scared that he was running from me and screaming like a girl so I kept following him around the house acting like I was in pain while asking him what was wrong. After 4 days we had told everyone that it was a joke but he did not believe us and kept avoiding me,

  • Robb Pierce says:

    I am often asked what the name Nexxto is, or where it came from. This is a nickname I earned in Costa Rica 2004. On one of the first days there, as a team leader trying to learn Spanish, I did the American thing trying to talk in Spanish. We had done some work at one of the missionaries homes in Costa Rica setting up some computers, and we wanted to take some photos with them, our whole team had their cameras ready. We asked our driver to photo us. He kept using the same camera, and we were trying to motion to him to use other cameras, we dont need 16 of the same photos on one camera. We tried everything, and I thought of how to say next in Spanish, and did the typical American thing by putting an “o” at the end of it. Everyone, including the driver laughed at me. Most of the team, thought it was one of the funniest things ever, and in a state of humility, nicknamed me Nexxto. I had hoped the name would die after the trip. One year later, back to Costa Rica in 2005, I arrive and one of the first things I hear is someone yelling across the hotel, NEXXXXXXXTOOOOOOO!!! In my mind, I thought, oh no, I thought that was forgotten, but it wasn’t, and it became even more popular than ever. Many who’d never heard the story began calling me Nexxto. It even followed me home, and so I’ve accepted the name and chose to use it as the name of my ministry. It reminds me of how much help I need from the Lord, and humbles me. Nexxto lives on!!!

  • Robb Pierce says:

    I’ve almost been arrested in 2 different countries at airport security. Oops.

    The first was in 1999 in Honduras. I was in charge of making some ooze type stuff for a VBS project. One of the things it called for was chlorine tablets ground up into powder. I thought this might be difficult in country, so I did this at home and not thinking correctly, put the white powder into a clear plastic bag in my carry-on. I was pulled out of line and searched for drug possession but simply opening the bag and smelling the contents cleared me.

    2ndly was in Costa Rica. I had brought a couple of knives with me in my checked bags, and had brought 2 carry-on’s. When leaving the country, I put the knives in one of my carry-on’s which was going to be put in my checked bag. I accidently checked the wrong carry-on and took the bag with 3 knives through airport security, where I was pulled out of line and then had to deal with airport security for over a 1/2 hour saying this isn’t normal to bring so many sharp weapons onto a plane. They refused to accept it as an accident, and after all their harassment, the big boss finally arrived, took one look at my honest eyes, and let me go. Praise God!

  • Raul Garcia III says:

    I was on a trip and we were staying in a hotel. I never stay at hotels but it just worked out that we did for this night. We usually stay on church floors and/ or camp and all that stuff and rough it. But this time we stayed in a hotel.(A cheap one.) We were super tired from the day and told the youth that they can take a nap and then we’ll get together for dinner in a few hours. I walked around to check on the youth and see what people were doing and if they were where they were suppose to be at. I knocked and walked into a boys room and they are looked at me and said ssshhh! Be quiet Raul. I said ok what are y’all doing? I looked and one of the boys had brought a sewing kit with him just in case I guess a button comes off or something. One boy was asleep on the bed snoring away and the others were trying to hold their laughter. The one boy who brought the sewing kit was sewing the boy who was snoring to the hotel comforter. He was trying to find the loose ends of his t-shirt and pants so he can sew him on the bed. It was one of the funniest and creative things I have seen on a trip. How awesome would that have been to have a flip camera.

  • Ryan says:

    We took a group of students to Jamaica last summer and one of the most uncomfortable parts of the trip for me was a trip to to the infirmary (AKA: nursing home). I don’t really do nursing homes anyway and going to a place where people aren’t cared for well, etc. really isn’t my idea of a good time.

    The night before that portion of our trip I shared with our group how this was going to stretch me and I asked one of our students who is a social butterfly if I could hang-out with her while we were there. Things go well for the first hour or so and I really find myself enjoying our time and engaging with the people.

    Eventually we find ourselves chilling with 2 ladies on a back porch…so there are 2 Jamaican women and me and one of our students…alone. The lady sitting next to me keeps touching my face, kisses me on the cheek and asks if I am “with” the high school student. I tell her no and a look of sheer joy sweeps across her face. She then mumbles something to the other Jamaican woman seated with us and that woman stands and begins dragging my “buddy” away. The look of desperation on my face wasn’t enough to make the high schooler stay and soon I’m alone on the porch with this woman. I’m trying to make small talk as she hold my hand and stares me down.

    Then it takes a horrible turn for the worse. Apparently I’ve been set-up because as soon as the other two people are out of sight, the woman seated next to me begins to run her hand up leg and under my shorts!! I’m not sure what to think at first and I just try to ignore it, but before it long it’s getting a little close…if you know what I mean! I grabbed her hand and nicely moved it. Her countenance quickly changed and she DEMANDED that I leave. I stood up, went to find one of our other leaders and laughed until I cried as I relayed the story.

    I really didn’t expect to get any action while I was away from my wife on the mission trip; boy was I wrong!

  • Jason Forsman says:

    Mission Trip to El Salvador – 2006

    So…you want to hear about our Missions Trip? Well, I should have known that it would be a time of severe trial and amazing victory from how it started. I was a co-leader with another youth pastor from our district, and just about a month before the trip he moved 1,300 miles away. So now it was just me, my soon to be wife, another youth pastor who was coming to help and all the kids.

    We arrived in El Salvador and were going to be working with Castillo del Rey and they were sending us to Usulutan, where they had never sent a group before. The number of miracles that happened in the previous 15 years that brought our team together are innumerable. Our translator went from unable to walk or speak at a young age to speaking multiple languages and being a world champion yo-yoer.

    Anyway, Usulutan is nicknamed the Microwave, because it is so hot and we ended up working with a church where the females stayed on the floor and the guys stayed on the floor of a house next to the church. Needless to say there were no doors at the house and the animals felt like they could come in and stay with us anytime they wanted to. Gratefully, it was mostly just the dogs. The bugs were very large and would randomly fall off the ceiling and land on us during the night.

    The roosters woke us up at 4 every morning and we went out to bath in the Pilas which were just a square wall that was about 5 feet tall and 4 feet by 4 feet. I’m 6’3″ so as I bathed every morning I was able to wave at all the people walking their cows down the road. There was water in a basin that ran into the Pila and we scooped in out and poured it on ourselves. The girls had to go in pairs and our dishes were washed in the same pila the ladies used. They also washed our laundry there with a detergent, it turns out, I was allergic to. My nipples felt like they were going to fall off when I put the team t-shirt back on. I ended up not getting my clothes washed the rest of the trip.

    Well, the man who owned the house had a grandson that lived with him and a son that would visit every night at 3 am…drunk. The grandson was all in black and painted his fingernails black and wore satanic jewelry. He worked against us all week and it was a little disconcerting sleeping with him in the next room listening to heavy metal that definitely didn’t glorify God. After 9 days living like that, we went to the Bible College and went to the all night Youth Vijilia (prayer Vigil). As everyone went to bed, we were told to sleep and not stay up all night because of the hard work still left to do, I went back up to the service for a little while. The grandson was there. That night we prayed with him and he not only was born again, but he was also set free from demonic possession. As soon as we destroyed the satanic jewelry he was freed and was able to pray to God. It was amazing. He immediately began trying to rub off all the black paint and began to worship. We got him some stuff to take off the paint and he was able to spend the entire night in the building, which he couldn’t walk into before, and pray and worship. We left him with the pastors there as we left to go to another part of the country.

    Yeah, everything was rough and hard and very tiring, but in the end the number of lives changed and people set free was amazing. I thank God for that trip and am now at a church with a pastor who grew up in that same area. He and I get to talk about it and pray for that place all the time. We keep talking about going back.

  • […] saw over on Simply Insider to celebrate the release of Prepare-Go-Live they’re giving away 3 Flip Ultra video cameras […]

  • Ok- this isn’t a story (although I have a ton after 19 years of Workcamps!). I just wanted to say that I used your Prepare!Go!Live! as the base for a weekend retreat (We did the Prepare portion). It was FANTASTIC!!! Thanks for the resource!!

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