The Lord of the Rings. Hands down one of the best books, movies, and trilogies to come out. The first book combines people of all different types and backgrounds together for a common cause: to destroy the One Ring and stop Sauron. In the end they are bonded together beyond their title of “Fellowship of the Ring” and are eternal friends. Elves, Dwarves, Men, and Hobbits. They see places and things they never would have, and in the end, saved the world.
To me, this sounds exactly like a mission trip.
When I was 15, my youth pastor started organizing a mission trip for our youth group. We had meetings and interviews, and that was just to get on the team. It was a unique group, with a lot of variety and character. But we joined together to share the gospel to lost souls. That trip was the first of several for me, and changed my life forever. If I hadn’t had that mission trip as a student, I wouldn’t be a missionary today, and never would have met my wife Katie (thank God I did!).
I’ve put together 4 reasons why your church should take a student mission trip.
They’re exposed to other cultures. Kids in the U.S. are programed to be like the philosophers of old, thinking we are the center of the universe. Taking a trip to another country, especially a third-world country, exposes your students to entirely new worlds. It challenges the thinking of “that’s just how we do things” to maybe be a little more open to new ideas, to a different way of thinking. For example, many cultures eat a big lunch and a small dinner, while most Americans eat a small lunch and a big dinner.
They grow closer together. The amount of effort, training, and prep work that a student must put into a good mission trip will bond them together like no other event. They will laugh together, struggle together, maybe even cry together (the good kind). But they will be joined together in a unique way that only a mission trip can do. They will have fellowshipped in serving the gospel together. You will also find that not only does it affect their unity, but will effect the rest of the youth group as well.
They glimpse missionary life. When I was a teen, the most boring church services seemed to be when the missionaries came around (ironic now that I am one). But when I did the work missionaries do, my eyes were opened. I learned how hard it is, how taxing it can be, and how rewarding it is to see someone trust Jesus as their Savior for their sins. I had a new appreciation the next time those “boring” missionaries would come.
They learn to step outside themselves. When it comes to sharing the gospel in a foreign country, only those who give of themselves selflessly will succeed. If you have an attitude of “me first” then how will you joyfully share this great news you have? Mission trips challenge students to go beyond themselves, to see the needs of others, and humbly serve to meet that need with the gospel.
If you’re interested in doing a youth group mission trip, you should definitely check out Word of Life’s Student Mission Trips.