A Leader’s Guide to Missions Trip Prepare the Heart

There always seems to be something else that needs to be worked on to prepare for a mission’s trip.  First and foremost, you must select a place and date, and make sure it coordinates with what everyone else is doing in the church.  And, of course, you need to sign up with the mission organization early to make sure they have that date open.  You need to recruit your group, both leaders and participants.  There are meetings to be had to share what you all will be doing, and how to do it, and to practice and prepare the ministry, and how to fill out the paper work, etc.  There is money to raise and travel plans to make.  And yet, you can do all that, and still have a lack luster mission trip.  Why? Because it doesn’t depend wholly on the leader.  One person can do all the above (though if I may offer an aside; think delegation) but the trip is made up of, and depends on, all the people in your group. The key to a successful short-term mission trip is to not only focus on the practical tasks in preparation, but to prepare the hearts of the people going on the trip.

The preparation of the heart can be done at all stages of planning, it can be formal and informal; It can be individually or as a group.  The how is not as important as the what.  The most successful groups help their people know WHY they are going, WHERE they are going and WHO they are going to see.  You might be saying, ‘Great, we can hit all three of those at our intro meeting’.  But it’s not just knowing in your head but knowing in your heart. It’s not just knowing a fact but understanding all that fact implies.  It’s not just seeing the trip through your eyes but seeing it through God’s eyes.

WHY are you going?  ‘We’re going to share the good news of Jesus Christ’.  Great!  Beyond the fact that it’s the most important news you can share with someone, Why? Don’t you think that there are people in that country that can share that good news, and do it better because they know the language?  ‘But God told us to go and preach the good news and make disciples of all nations.’ Great. Have you shared the good news with your neighbor, or your family or your community?  …Ok, ok, before you stop reading, yes, I know those questions are leading and unfair and probably constitute badgering.  I’m just trying to make a point.  In general, Americans have a high opinion of themselves and the way they do things (our way is best).  We have a bit of a savior complex, as in, we think we need to save the world, which expresses itself in any number of ways in the secular realm.  But this also spills over into the spiritual realm. All I’m saying is, help your group understand that they are not going to save the poor native, they are going to serve alongside their brothers and sisters from another country to try and bring more people into the family.  They are going to share the good news of Jesus Christ as God commands, but they are doing so alongside their family that lives there.  It’s the church helping the church.

WHERE are you going?  ‘The Dominican Republic or Monterrey, Mexico.’  Great!  But what do you really know about these places?  Some people think that deep down, everyone is the same.  That’s true in the fact that deep down, everyone needs Jesus and different cultures share the same spread of personality types. But core beliefs, values and behaviors can differ.  Not all, but enough to make it confusing.  The rule of thumb for a missionary is that it takes three years living in a culture to realize that you know nothing of that culture.  Then you can start to learn.  So, on a short-term mission trip, you are not going to learn everything about that culture.   The good news is, you don’t have to.  Just realizing that it’s different will help.  Just remember: just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s wrong; they aren’t the ones that are different, you are; they don’t speak with an accent, you do. You’re in their country after all. Interesting side note: the one thing that is universal around the world is a smile. Use it extensively.

Who are you going to see? ‘Dominicans and Mexicans.’  Great!  Now look a little deeper.  One of the most poignant stories I ever heard from a missionary was about the time he was driving a group through his city.  They were craning their necks and asking questions about various places and buildings.  At one point someone pointed at group of ladies on the side walk and asked, ‘Are those prostitutes?’  ‘No, they’re people’, came the missionary’s immediate reply.  It wasn’t a sarcastic reply, or condescending. Just a matter of fact answers.  That’s how he saw them.  Not with his eyes, but through God’s eyes.  No labels.  Just people. People who needed Jesus.  Just like us.

Seeing the world through God’s eyes is one of the results of being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  If God is truly in control and he wants us to reach the world for Him, then every encounter with someone is a divine appointment set up from the beginning of time.  He can use every situation for His glory.  The bus/van broke down and we’re all delayed on the side of the road?  You can either feel frustration because things aren’t going according to plan, or excited to see how God is going to turn this around for His glory.  We just need to open our eyes, see the world the way God sees it and react accordingly.

Preparing our heats is making sure our attitudes and motivations are where God wants them to be.  We should have the same attitude as Christ.  Though He had every right, He didn’t play His God card, but took the form of a humble servant to bring the world back to God.

The practical tasks in preparing for a mission’s trip are important, but their purpose is limited for that trip.  The preparation of the heart is invaluable because it’s purpose is for our whole life.

 

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{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org

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This year has been one of the best years of my life.  I had the opportunity to serve the Lord in our TIME for Sports Ministries Program.  God is giving me strength to do things that I never thought were possible.

At the beginning of May, TIME for Sports conducted a baseball camp for 170 kids.  Being able to share the gospel to these students in one camp was an amazing opportunity.  They were eating together, sharing, playing baseball and doing devotions together throughout the whole camp.  This is something unforgettable and something that makes my heart race for the Lord.  At the end of this camp 117 kids accepted Christ in their hearts.  That was the perfect complement for this camp.  God showed us that we can do all things when we give Him the glory and the honor.

I am now praying for Pastor Alberto Felix and his congregation.  The kids for this baseball camp all live near Pastor Alberto’s church.  It was through this congregation that we partnered with and that they can follow up with these kids and their decision for Christ.  I am praying that they can guide them to the truth and a good life with God.

My life is changing day by day with the TIME for Sports Ministry program.  We started this ministry in a good way, because we are thinking about the life of the people and their salvation.  I know God will guide our life and this program.  The Bible says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

That’s why I love to work with children.  You can see the result in their lives.  Please help by praying for me and for the children as we desire to do more and more and more.
That’s why I ask for prayers also for a new ministry partnership with Ina York and the Cercadillo Project. We want to go to Cercadillo on a more regular basis and teach baseball and share more about Jesus with the children and the community.

Please also pray for the Rivera Family and our next trip to the USA.  We hope to visit various families and churches in the States.  We are praying for around USD$3000 to assist us with our airfare.

Another prayer requests we have is for our future house.  We want to start the foundation of the house.  This is one of our personal dreams to have our own home as a family.

God Bless you and thank you for being a part of our team.

 

JC

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{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}

http://www.timeministries.org