As many of us attempt to get our students serving this summer, there is often a “trip” of some kind planned. We plan, give packing lists, and prepare their hearts for what’s ahead. As the youth leader we are very focused on what OUR youth will get out of their time, and how it will impact them for eternal transformation. This is the way it ought to be.
This summer I am on the other side of the mission’s trip. As an inner city ministry in an area devastated by Hurricane Sandy, we have gotten an inundation of groups wanting to come and be with us for a week. It has been interesting to be the bridge between those coming, and those who will receive help. This has got me thinking
As you take off for your trip have you considered what your APPROACH will be?
To The Situation You Will Serve:
It is important to prep your team for the situation they will encounter as much as possible. What will they see, smell, experience? Some circumstances of abject poverty or desolation will be shocking. When you arrive at a site the focus needs to be totally on those you are giving to, while processing your own reactions to the time there. Students need to be prepped to take the work they will be offering seriously, to stay consistent in their time and efforts, and to debrief with you in the evenings after their days.
To The People You Will Be Serving:
Destitute people in difficult situations rarely define themselves this way. Are we giving or stripping a person of their dignity? Make sure you approach every person you serve with respect and honor. Before you make any assumptions ASK a person what they would LIKE for you to do for them. Our opinions of what we feel someone might need, isn’t nearly as important as the way they will receive our offering.
To The Partnering Site:
Even if you are going with a missions organization there is a group on the receiving end. Are you respecting their methods and approach to ministry? Are you asking them what THEY would like from you? Communication, and follow through of their requests is vital. Remember they were here before you came and they will stay after you and your students go home.
If there is one piece of advice I can leave you with it would be this. Remember, it is a privilege and an honor that a community has invited you in to be with them. Sometimes we and our students need them really more than they need us.