Short Term Mission Trip
Short term mission trips are a viable option for those who work full-time, have family responsibilities and still want to help people less fortunate by participating in aid and relief programs. Anyone can be a candidate for a short term mission trip. High school students to retirees are often found participating in programs suited especially for them. These missions are designed to match an individual's availability and interests with needs locally, nationally, or internationally. The main focus of a mission trip is to become a walking and talking testimonial for Christ, and because it "is good ad acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saven, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
When a volunteer arrives at their destination, they will usually be paired with a family host. These host families provide the volunteer a place to stay and receive home cooked meals during the duration of their short term mission trip. There are services and prayer times held as well as any additional training that may still be needed. Projects for each mission will vary. Some missions involve teaching, building, or repairing things, and other complex short term mission trips may involve developing an irrigation system. No matter what the reason is, a valuable service is being offered by volunteers.
Most organizations offering missions are Christian based. There are many interdenominational and denominational programs to choose from. Support to go on one of these trips can be gained from a church, a college, or family and friends. The cost of a particular short term mission trip is dependent upon the relationship the organization has with the participating destination, the price of airfare, and whether or not living arrangements are provided by a host family or a hotel. Typically, a trip can last between 1 week and 2 years. Student short-term missions, which usually consist of group work camps, are very popular in the summer. Each group will have a particular job to complete and in the process tend to bond on a deeper spiritual level with each other and with the locals.
Before leaving for a short term mission trip, people should research their destination. It would be wise to familiarize yourself with the language, customs and laws. It is also important to obtain legal documentation and proof of residency. Most, if not all, international short term mission trips require a specific set of immunizations and a complete physical before leaving the U.S. It would be wise to take care of these important things well in advance. It can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to receive a passport and it could take even longer to schedule a doctors appointment. Travel insurance is also recommended.
Spiritual retreats are getaways that can be done either as a personal adventure or one with other people. There will be a lot of 'alone time' even with the group. Some people know exactly what they need in a spiritual retreat and others need a little direction. This all depends on personality and position in life.
Many people are so busy in their lives that it is hard to even find time to pray, let alone get away from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Thinking that there is not enough time or not making time for a spiritual retreat could be detrimental to one's spiritual growth and well being. God often speaks to us in a still, small voice, and if we are not listening, it is easy to miss. "..but stand thou still still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God." (1 Samuel 9:27b)
Taking a break can come in many different forms, from a few minutes to oneself to a full blown vacation. Spiritual retreats also come in many forms. Some examples might be visiting religious monuments and praying in great houses of God or a weekend at the spa where one can be pampered and taken care of so the only thing the mind has to concentrate on is God. Whatever the form of spiritual retreat, it is ultimately important to put aside some special time to spend with God.
Getaways to spend time with the Lord can also be done as a family, a couple or as a singular adventure. They are the special time that we have to concentrate on our relationship with God and the other people who surround us. It may be the situation that everyone in the family needs a spiritual retreat. This can better the entire family unit as well as each individual person. The focus should be to connect closer to God, to pray and look for His guidance.
After spending time alone with the Lord, the effects can usually be easily seen. People that have participated in spiritual retreats often say they have a new look on life and physically feel better upon return. Spiritual retreats need to be planned so the time spent will be fruitful, the time, the place can all enhance the whole experience. getting away to a mountain retreat or spending time at the ocean, all some of the marvelous things that God has created for us to enjoy can make us feel a bit closer to our maker.
Praying for guidance from the Lord can also enhance the time spent. After all, He tells us that He has a special plan for each of us in the book of Jeremiah. Whether praying for personal guidance or for the lives of loved ones are all part of the much needed time spent with God.
World MissionFor many people, the term world missions conjures up mental images of very spiritual people spending years spreading the gospel in faraway lands. However, that image falls short of the current meaning of that term. Yes, some missionaries are called to previously unreached people groups, and some people are called to distant countries, far from where they grew up. However, world mission opportunities can be domestic as well as foreign. And the opportunity may be a short-term trip, rather than an entire life commitment, where a specific task helps a specific small group.
Many Christian churches have a missionary organization through which the ministry operates. Information from that organization filters down to individual church communities where action is taken. One of the most common ways churches participate in world mission projects is through their youth groups. Every summer and on school breaks, thousands of teens criss-cross our country and travel to other lands to help the very poor. Whether it's to build a house or conduct a vacation Bible school, the teens bring with them the enthusiasm and energy that the young tend to come by naturally. These teens may may work in a village in Mexico, or an Indian community in New Mexico, or a poor community in Idaho. Wherever they go, these kids come home with a greater appreciation for their faith and other people. In addition, they almost always recognize and appreciate the many comforts with which they are raised. More important, through these world missions trips, many young people develop a fuller understanding of the need for evangelism in their own communities and throughout the planet. They value the Great Commission more. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," (Matthew 28:19).
Other kinds of local talents are used to reach people for Christ. For example, ladies who make quilts, or knit sweaters, or sew baby layettes do so without ever seeing the people who benefit from their efforts. Those beneficiaries may be across the ocean or across the state, yet they labor in the name of Christ. World missions efforts can also be enhanced through musical and dramatic talents as well. These talents often provide the opening through which the Gospel message can be spread. People in world mission locales are willing recipients of all these expressions of Christian caring.
Churches and schools offer courses for prospective missionaries, who then make themselves available to work among the unchurched. World mission communities are very accepting of these special people, whose everyday practical skills, such as carpentry or teaching, are enhanced by their sense of mission and their faith. Actions speak louder than words, and world missions are the places where Christian love and action are combined to send the message of God's love to the world. The world is, in many areas, a scary place. Missionaries provide some comfort and a sense of our common humanity to those who need a lift out of poverty.
Volunteer outreach missions are a prime method of evangelical Christianity to spread the message of their faith to the world as "ambassadors for Christ", the One who "hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:20a & 18b). There has been a recent resurgence of Christians from varied non-religious professions getting involved in outreach missions work worldwide. They provide a wide variety of opportunities to both men and women, young and old. Major organizations such as the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board are geared to assist churches and individuals to organize these in numerous locations.
Missionary work can be done within one's own country or in international settings. Many locations already have missionary bases previously established. These short-term volunteer outreach missions serve to assist those bases with physical labor while also providing mental and spiritual renewal for those in long-term outreach missions. At times, new venues are opened by unforeseen events, such as the tsunami disaster in December 2004. Most of these are labor intensive, but the teams are prepared to offer spiritual support as well.
These excursions are a wonderful way to motivate church youth groups to learn how to become involved in helping their fellow man. Youth oriented missionary trips generally take place within the home country. Whether within their own community or in a remote state, they are incredibly inspiring for youth with the right leadership.
When involved in this sacrificial type of giving, it is important to be aware of cultural rules that are critical to be followed in order to protect all in many religiously sensitive areas. It is important that the presence does not become a nuisance or accidentally break social and/or religious laws that some countries have strictly established. Such errors could endanger the future of career missionaries or outreach missions in those zones of a sensitive nature. Even e-mail correspondence within those zones must be kept neutral from religious language. The purpose of these are to gain a foothold in such areas, and enable both the embedded long-term mission, and subsequent volunteer outreach missions, to remain within the area to work with those people who would otherwise not be exposed to the Christian faith.
Outreach missions are important for the economic assistance they present to countries and communities, which desperately need such assistance for their physical needs. Indeed, these volunteer trips also provide cultural, social, and ethical knowledge to develop sociological studies that will promote future economic aid. However, most importantly for Christians around the world, these are opportunities for the normal church-goer to fulfill the Great Commission of the New Testament. Matthew 28:19-20 is best known by those who are compelled to serve our Lord. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."