One of the things I love to do is travel. It is not as glamorous as some people think it is; flight delays, overnight flights, not to mention missions travel which can be even less glamorous. You are often traveling to a remote or poor location so travel can be long and the transportation methods challenging. Most times you can sneak in a short sightseeing venture but usually, the days are long and there is much to do. It is not as exotic as you may think.
For the last ten years, I have traveled to countries around the world for different mission-focused trips. Many of those have been to teach leadership with EQUIP. I have helped build an orphanage and worked with groups that were supporting orphans or fighting human trafficking. From South America to the Carribean to Europe and Asia, I have had several common experiences that you should be aware of before your next missions trip. It might help you be a little more intentional about what you are doing.
Your Presence Is An Encouragement
Just being there makes a difference. One of the battles people fight in ministry is isolation. In some countries, they are in such a minority, that they constantly feel isolated. The fact that you took the time to come to their location is often a major boost to their morale and outlook on the work they are doing. If you never do anything else but be there, you have already moved the ball forward.
You Appreciate Where You Are Privileged To Serve
It is so easy to take things for granted. We do not have the facilities we want. We want a bigger budget for technology. We would like to hire another staff member. Then you go to a location in another country and they have a church where no one is paid and income is minimal and they are all doing everything they can to reach new people for Christ. Even more so, no one complains. It gives you some perspective on your own situation and helps you appreciate how privileged you are to serve where you do.
The Challenges Are Often Common
You may be thousands of miles from home, but the challenges people face are very common to yours. People are still sick and hurting. There are still those that are lost. They wish they had more money and better facilities as well. They have volunteers who do not show up. Everyone has an opinion which creates tension in the church. The issues people face in leading churches are the same all over the world. There may be some contextual differences, but it helps you appreciate the fact that many of the challenges you face, they are facing as well.
Missions travel is great. I think everyone should take at least one in their lifetime. What you walk away with may have as much impact on you and your organization as it does on the group you visit.