Many people go on these trips expecting to make an impact and are surprised to discover that they have been impacted personally to a much larger extent. So, be prepared to be changed. It may be that God will use your experience to lead you in a new direction, but it may be just as possible that it will confirm to you that you’re exactly where God wants you to be for now. Most agencies run debriefing programmes which are set up to help you process the experiences you’ve had and to offer practical advice on making the most of it once you’ve come home.
A good place to start is to tell people about your plans. If you don’t talk about it, then others may miss out on the opportunity to bless you.
First, you need to establish what is behind their objections. It is perfectly natural for other family members to be concerned about their loved one taking off somewhere they know little or nothing about with a bunch of strangers. If your family is not Christian then you need to be sensitive in how you handle the situation, but if this is the case then they may never agree with any Christian activity you engage in. If their concern is for your protection and safety, then do what you can to address their concerns.
The desire to make a worthwhile and lasting difference within the local community is usually high among the priorities of those going on short-term mission trips. But if we are not careful this can lead us to unrealistic expectations of what we can achieve, and lead to us seeing mission just as an activity or an event. Short-term mission cannot replace the involvement of those who share their lives in long-term committed relationships, but it can be of immense value if done hand-in-hand with, and contributing to, a longer-term vision.
You might think that this is an odd question! But in this age when ease of travel has made so much possible, we do need to ask ourselves the hard questions about the appropriateness of overseas short-term trips. Are we a real help or a hindrance? Do we realise that we will probably learn far more than we will give? Do our one way trips from “here to there” just perpetuate the mistaken idea that mission is something that is done to people by better educated and better off Westerners?
If your local church already has links with a particular mission project, then the church will undoubtedly benefit from strengthening those links through the visit of a team. This could also become a reciprocal thing, where church exchanges take place.
You're certainly not short of choice when it comes to mission organisations, so where do you start? Even for a short-term assignment it is important that you look for a ‘fit’ with the mission agency you are thinking of going with. Do you share their vision? Take a look at their mission statement. Maybe they have a particular theological bias which you may struggle with. Take time to look into it. Can you be sure you’ll be looked after whilst you are serving with this agency?
At a first glance through this website, the choice can seem a bit bewildering. There are so many great options to choose from, and this is representative of the diversity of needs that exist in today's world! Short-term mission trips can involve anything from construction to community health, English teaching to evangelistic missions, sport ministry to surgery!
Most people don’t get a bolt of lightning from the sky, a booming voice from heaven, or see their name flashing in some kind of divine neon light. And if you’re waiting for a ‘burning bush’ experience, like Moses had in Exodus 3, it will never happen! Maybe it will just start with a gut feeling – an ‘inner witness’ in your spirit. Maybe something someone has said in a sermon or just a conversation is what’s motivating you. Perhaps you’ve know someone who’s been on a short-term team and it’s provoked an interest.