Have you ever wondered about the purpose of mission trips for youth or adults? I’d like to hear your stories and experiences of mission trips both in the USA and outside of our country. In my experience the mission trip experience varies dramatically. Some of the site leaders are skilled and compassionate and others seem to be – well-intentioned but…you know. I also have found after nearly twenty years of being involved in mission trips that to return to a site and develop a long term relationship with the community is the most helpful even though you limit your travel experiences. Kids might think that fun travel is the main purpose when it comes to mission trips or meeting kids from other parts of the country but the relationships are by far the most important. Relationships cause us to encounter Jesus. Relationships change lives.
As far as foreign travel and mission goes, I think that college and adults should be the ones to experience that or perhaps families that travel together. Again I’d like to hear about your mission trips. Where have you gone, what have you experienced. I will share with you some of the things that I hear – if I hear. There are pockets of poverty so severe in our country that even years of dedicated focus will not bring these areas out of poverty. Consider your home town mission project too; Rebuilding Together is an annual event that helps to fix up and improve neighborhoods in your hometown.
I remember several years ago when President Bill Clinton visited Pine Ridge, South Dakota, one of the poorest areas in our country. What has changed? How have we helped alleviate the poverty? Have we brought in new jobs, a sense of purpose, or hope? These are the things along with faith that can truly make a difference when applied year after year. That’s where I want to head in the future.
Bless your heart if you are one of those adults or families that dedicate yourself toward helping youth to truly experience the relationships that change lives thought mission.