When God’s people commit to work…he shows up!
Being an older youth minister (over 50) has given me many years to be involed in and lead mission trips. I have served mainly in smaller churches during my ministry and there is one thing I am convienved of, and that is the power of God in evidence on mission trips. When God’s people commit to work…he shows up!
I’ve had two long-term youth ministery positions in my ministry, one for six years and my current position which is appraoching nine years. I’ve found that the impact of mission trips has greatly and positively affected my ministry and the churches that take the trips. At Central Baptist Church in Evadale, my current church, over 130 people have been involved in at least one of the seven summer mission trips we have taken. We have been to the Valley in Texas, Vermont, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, back to Vermont and the Texas Gulf Coast. Each of the trips has been different, but all have been meaningful and have had lasting effects on all those who were part of the teams.
In the Valley of Texas we experienced poverty first hand. It encouraged several in our group to become involved in local ministries to the poor and needy. In Mississippi we experienced the devistation of Hurricane Katrina and how rebuilding lives is more than just a brick and mortor task. Mississippi also allowed us tp be ready for working in our own backyard when the Texas Gulf Coast was struck by Hurricane Ike. In Vermont we experienced that people do not always know even who Jesus is right here in our own nation. In Louisiana and Arkansas we worked with another ministry that uses different methods to share the love of Christ with people.
All the people who have been involved on our mission trips gain a new perspective on other people and how God works in and through them. Our teams grow spiritually as they learn to depend on God as he often makes changes to the team’s. Our church benefits as we have created some unique ways for the team to stay connected with those at home through prayer and our pen pal network.
The other benefit that our church has received is a new awareness and commitment to missions. Since our church started taking groups off on mission trips we have seen a local service ministry get started that has put roofs on several homes, cleared trees that have fallen, provided meals in disaster situations, and is even building a small home for an individual in need. But the ministry and mission does not stop there. The church has increased giving to our Convention’s North American and international missions funds, doubling those amounts from as little as three years ago. We are even in the process of planning to send a small team to the Ukraine in the near future.
I have been asked by other youth ministers, "How can our church afford to send students to summer camp and still take a summer mission trip?" The response is simple: "How can we afford not to?!" We have had to get creative in many ways to handle the financial obligations of the biggest two projects of the church happening within a month of each other, but we have adapted our budget and fund-raising to accommodate both of these worthwhile activities. When people begin to take the Great Commission seriously then God is freed to do miraculous things and allow us to be a part of it.
Start early, plan throughly, pray earnestly, invite liberally, and expect mighty when it comes to mission trips. You will see God work as you travel to your mission destination. You will see God work in the people that you minister to. You will see God work in your team and in your church. It is something that will always be worth the time, effort, and expense!
Oh, by the way our group is going to Central Idaho in July.