I get excited about kids doing missions. With the exception of the moment a young person says “yes” to Jesus, a short term mission trip is probably the most memorable experience they will have in their youth ministry years. More than a lock-in, or a retreat, and certainly more than a thousand sermons or devotions (sorry, youth leaders, but it’s true).
There are always some articles floating around that question the value of a short term mission trip. I don’t get it. Unless you’ve decided to have your youth group donate ice to Eskimos, and assuming there’s solid spiritual and logistical planning, short term mission trips work. How do I know this? Because I’ve seen it. Over and over. Want some examples?
As a new youth pastor in a small church, my second mission trip felt strangely comfortable. During our faith-sharing training, I realized everyone wasn’t as prepared. TJ was clearly uncomfortable, and eventually admitted, “I can’t explain my Christian faith because I don’t have it. How can I ask Jesus into my heart?” Within the next hour, TJ had gone from saying ‘yes’ to a trip to saying “YES” to Jesus.
Getting adult volunteers can be a challenge, but some volunteers are the challenge. Although Brian had his rough spots (including an early-on mooning of a student while driving a vehicle) he had a huge heart. His reputation preceded him even in church, so the thought of actually doing ministry seemed out of reach. Until the mission trip. That’s where Brian first discovered he could serve people in Jesus’ name and be a role model for kids. He departed a typical church member, and returned a servant – leader.
Or take Tom in Reading, PA. He was 17 and on a mission trip to fix houses. But when he realized his very-large resident hadn’t been able to leave his own house for years, Tom knew God wanted him to do. So Tom arranged for two tour buses, permission from youth leaders, and a pizza delivery, and took a party to the man. Literally. We all cried as we watched video of that man experiencing the love of God for the first time in a long time. And Tom experienced life-changing obedience to God.
So get ready for God to do amazing things on your trip – just like He’s done a zillion times before. Have fun!