5 Items You May Not Think To Pack For A Missions Trip

5 Items You May Not Think To Pack For A Missions Trip

We have written a post in the past all about the essentials to pack for a mission’s trip (find the packing list here), but there are some things you may not think to bring but will thank us later, after you read this post!

Here are 5 items you may not think to pack for a mission’s trip:

1. A headlamp

This one was on the packing list, but it’s often looked over or a flashlight is chosen in its place. But there is a big chance that where you might be going, the power is not always consistent. When I was abroad for three months in DR Congo, we would have power working all day and then always lose it at 7 pm at night. I more than wished I had brought a headlamp for hands-free light!

2. A tumbler.

I don’t know about you, but wherever I am in the world, I want to wake up and have my tea. My husband is this way with coffee. A tumbler is great for a mission’s trip because you can make up your coffee and take it to go (wherever that may be). And no matter how much work you have that morning, your morning beverage should stay warm!

3. A bandana

These are multipurpose. Use them as a hand towel, hair tie, or to dip in water and then tie around your forehead or neck to stay cool. Use to filter out water if you are ever in a desperate situation where clean water isn’t available.

4. Duct Tape

I feel this one is self-explanatory. I mean, duct tape fixes everything! Just wrap the tape several times around your water bottle and then peel off whenever you need some throughout the trip! Use it to patch up items that break or tear, hold things together, cover up dangerous outlets, and more!

5. Baby Wipes

As much as you will want to shower, sometimes it’s just not always feasible. Baby wipes will give you that fresh feeling until the opportunity to shower presents itself. Use to freshen up throughout the day or at the end of the day before climbing into bed. You’ll find yourself using wipes more than you imagined and probably lending some out to other participants on the trip!

What extra items do YOU recommend for the trip? Let us know in the comments!

7 Things All Leaders Should Do and Be

7 Things All Leaders Should Do and Be

For those who choose to participate in missions trips, it is important to understand how to effectively lead. Sure, there will be some who are front and center leaders and others who seem to play a more “supportive” role, but in one way or another, the entire team will be leading for Christ.

We all have the ability to lead. For those who are not natural leaders, we can learn! Leadership is an ongoing learning experience. No leader has all the answers or ever “arrives” to perfection, but we can all add new tools to our tool belts and hold ourselves to a high standard!

Here are 7 Things All Leaders Should Do and Be:

1. Leaders have perseverance for delayed rewards.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” –Galatians 6:9

When a leader is working hard to do good, it’s easy to become discouraged when the results we are wanting come slowly, or worst of all, when we never see the impact we have. But as Christ-following leaders, we have to accept that we may never see the growth from the seed we planted, but eventually, it WILL grow and, together, we will reap a harvest!

2. Leaders imitate righteous leaders who have gone before them.

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” –Hebrews 13:7

When we are growing as leaders, it’s important to notice those around us who have more experience or who have influenced those around them for good. Not only should we notice, but we should take the positives from each leader and imitate them in our own leadership!

3. Leaders courageously trust in God.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” –Isaiah 41:10

No matter what a Christian leader is going through — even among the doubts, fears, and dark times — we have to courageously trust in the story the Lord is writing in and through our lives.

4. Leaders can withstand judgment.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” –James 3:1

Whenever we lead, there will be people who don’t want to follow. The negativity will surround us and the judgment has the potential to swallow us whole. But we have to know this, be on guard, and withstand the judgment and hurt we may face in leadership positions when we are following God’s will.

5. Leaders practice humility.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” –James 4:10

Although leaders are often in the spotlight, they must be humble and let the praise and recognition reflect back to God. It’s really He who should get the glory for all that we do in His name.

6. Leaders become servants.

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” –Matthew 20:26

In this blog post about the power of servant leadership, we talk about the significant impact leaders have when they take a position of a servant.

7. Leaders commit their visions and goals to the ways of the Lord.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.” –Psalm 37:5

Remember that no matter how unclear the direction you go seems, if you trust in the Lord and commit what you are doing to Him, you will find a straight path to follow and lead others to do the same!

The Importance Of Knowing Team Members’ Individual Strengths

The Importance Of Knowing Team Members’ Individual Strengths

As children of God, we have all been given unique gifts. Strengths are such an important part of understanding a person and the way God created him/her, yet we often don’t take the time to explore our given gifts/strengths. We volunteer for specific jobs or tasks, but they don’t always align with our gifts and talents. If we want to make the most impact in the world, we have to start living in a way that honors our given strengths.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”  –1 Peter 4:10-11

If you are attending or leading a mission’s trip, I challenge you to spend time beforehand really delving into strengths discovery. There is a free Character Strengths Assessment participants can take here. Leaders should have participants send the results to them, and then the entire team can meet together for a debrief to follow. Be sure that everyone attending the trip (leaders included) takes this assessment.

Here are questions leaders can ask during a strengths discovery debrief with the mission’s team:

What surprised you about your results?

What pleased you about your results?

How do you think your results will positively impact the team?

What responsibilities during the mission’s trip experience do you believe would fit well with your unique strengths?

After these questions are answered, leaders should work hard to allocate roles based on the strengths of the team members. Responsibilities should be given to the ideal person for the job based on his/her strengths. And remember, the best kind of team is one that is well-rounded.

“A genius in the wrong position could look like a fool.”
― Idowu Koyenikan

Your vision for your trip will be better accomplished when you include strengths discovery in your preparations. Think about it; some participants have never explored their strengths, so not only will they be able to discover the ways the Lord created them but they will, for the first time, get to live into their strengths while on the trip! This will increase the impact they will make and transform the way they live from then on!

Don’t Forget To Stop And Listen To God’s Voice

Don’t Forget To Stop And Listen To God’s Voice

We live in a world where consumption is high! We can feed ourselves as much information as we want without ever having to delve deeper. Our fast pace life prevents us from ever needing to stop and reflect. But we should be spending as much time listening as we do reading and learning.

There have been times in my life when I have read 2-3 books on a spiritual topic all at one time, am a part of a weekly Bible study, and reading my daily devotional, but I never once took time to listen to what God wanted to speak into my life. The Word of God is living and active and not made to be used to consume and spit out when needed. We need to spend time letting it nourish us!

Here are three important things to remember when it comes to listening to God’s voice:

1. Recognize that a relationship is a two-way street.

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” –James 4:8

I have had friends where they do all of the talking and I feel like they don’t know me at all, and I’ve had friends where I’ve done the talking and they never open up. These don’t qualify as a relationship. God wants a relationship! He wants you to spend time learning about and understanding him while also listening to the Holy Spirit use His words to speak into your life.

2. Invite the Holy Spirit in.

You will never be able to listen to God if you don’t invite the Holy Spirit to work! Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom, discernment and to lead your life! You will begin to see the many ways the Lord works through His Spirit and uses it to connect us to Him!

3. Don’t try to force God to say something.

There have been times when I did take the time to listen to God when I almost “forced” the response I wanted. Weigh everything you think you “hear” against the Scripture. Be sure it’s not your voice speaking and that it actually is, in fact, the Holy Spirits!

God’s voice:

Stills you.

Leads you.

Reassures you.

Encourages you.

Convicts you.

Comforts you.

Does the voice you hear do those things? If not, pray that God’s voice will overtake anything that tries to get in its way!

The next time you find yourself consuming without making time to reflect, stop and take a moment to listen to God’s voice. He wants to lead you, but you have to invite him!

The Positive Impact Of Being A Servant Leader

The Positive Impact Of Being A Servant Leader

When you think about leadership, what comes to mind? Probably someone in charge or a person of authority. It’s rare for leaders to consider the wants and needs of the group more than the wants and needs of self or the business/organization. But what would happen if the view of leadership shifted to being a view of service?

Leadership is something I’ve always been interested in exploring. I thought there was a specific type of person one had to be to be a leader, but when I decided to study leadership in college, I learned that the most important factor to being an effective leader is to be a servant! And this…anyone can do!

Servant leadership is a concept many leaders never learn. It was developed by Robert K. Greenleaf:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

So how does servant leadership apply to serving on a mission’s trip?

It applies in a HUGE way! If the entire mission’s team (leaders and participants) approach the field with a servant’s mindset, they will be putting others’ needs before themselves and making a more significant impact!

1. Set an example of service.

You may not be the leader of the group, but by serving the needs of those around you, you will set an example that others will want to follow — even those in authority!

2. Show that you care.

Have you ever heard the quote: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Well, it’s true! Leaders can stand up in front of their team and say they care over and over but the team can tell you whether or not what they are saying is true based on the treatment they receive. Be someone who shows they care and doesn’t just say it. You will gain more respect for what you say!

3. Get to know those around you on a deeper level.

Don’t just invest in the experience, invest in the PEOPLE! Learn their stories, learn their strengths, and learn their dreams! You can serve better when relationships are built and solid. Everyone’s needs are different, so it’s important for a leader to take the time to learn and help develop the team!

These three tips can still be done if you aren’t in a position of leadership. Everyone leads in different ways, and we can all develop or servant leadership style by practicing each and every day.

Tell us in the comments about someone you know who is a servant leader. What impact is he/she making in the world? 

How You Can Apply What You’ve Learned From A Mission’s Trip

How You Can Apply What You’ve Learned From A Mission’s Trip

Though mission’s trips are an impactful experience, ultimately, the goal of a trip for the participant is to leave the experience being ON MISSION for Christ in their everyday lives!

So how does that happen?

On a trip, participants will work together to medically assist locals in a variety of ways. They will serve those in pain and discomfort and bring healing and relief to their bodies and souls. Watching these transformations will often cause feelings of  “being on fire for God!” When people return from mission’s trips, they experience a high that often fizzles out as they distance themselves from the experience. But those who remain “on fire” or are able to see a transformation within themselves are the ones who don’t just let their experience end on the last day of the trip.

Here are a few tips to apply what you’ve learned from a mission’s trip:

1. Make time for intentional debriefing.

In the article, Experience 4 Phases After A Mission’s Trip, we walk you through how to debrief, process, navigate through, and take action after the trip. Proper debriefing will allow the lessons learned to stick and make an impact to the fullest extent.

Here are a few questions from that article to think through:

  • What experiences stand out?
  • What parts of your trip do you want to capture and remember?
  • Why did those experiences stand out?
  • What have you learned about God?
  • What does your new normal look like?
  • How do you want to impact the people around you based on your experience?
  • What change do you want to implement into your life?
  • What impact can you make as a result of your experience?

2. Stay in close relationship with God.

During a mission’s trip when the central focus is on God, it’s easy to feel connected and to make a difference. But when you jump back into your everyday life, culture, and overall busyness, it’s easy to forget about the one who sustains us. If you want to apply what you learned from your mission’s trip experience, it’s important to stay in close contact with the Lord. Look for ways to express gratitude. Look for those in need — not just physically — but those in need spiritually. You will only notice a spiritual need if you are in tune with the Holy Spirit. Some needs aren’t as obvious as the ones you will see each day on the mission’s field, but they are still needs nonetheless. Allow God to use you and to shift your perspective to see wherever you are as your mission field.

3. Think about what stands out about the trip.

During your debriefing period, take notice of what stands out to you about the trip. Maybe it was the relationships built. Maybe it was the children playing all around you. Or maybe you preached one night to the mission’s team and that experience was something you’ll never forget. More than likely, the experience that stands out to you the most tells you something about your strengths. If you enjoyed the relationships, you can know that it’s important for you to build similar relationships on the other side or to maintain the ones made on the trip! If you enjoyed the children, find a way to continue working with children! If you enjoyed speaking, maybe you can tap into this gift more and more upon your return! Choose to apply what you’ve learned about yourself after the trip has come to an end.

Your life may feel easier when you get back to regular life, but the work you did on the trip shouldn’t end when you get off the plane. It’s important to learn how to translate your experience and continue the mission God has called you to! We hope these tips will help you do just that!

How To Create Unity Within A Team

How To Create Unity Within A Team

When you head on a mission’s trip, it normally is with a team. This can be a really great thing or a difficult thing depending on who you are. Maybe you love getting to know new people and you are adaptable to a variety of different types. Or, maybe you prefer to be alone and do things your own way when it comes to life experiences.

Well, we at Missions Partner For Christ want to give you tips for creating unity among your team during your next mission’s trip!

1. Take a Spiritual Gifts Assessment

We all have unique gifts given to us by God. Knowing what these gifts are will help you better understand yourself and if you can share them with the rest of your team, you will have a better understanding of how to work together. For example, if someone has the gift of evangelism but is assigned the task leading the team, he/she will probably not do as well as if he/she were sent out to spread the hope of Christ. Help your teammates thrive by getting to know what they are good at.

2. Meet Together Beforehand

If you are local, this can be as simple as scheduling a meeting at the nearest Starbucks. However, nowadays, teams are put together of people from all over the nation. If this is the case, you can use online forums like Google Hangout or Zoom to create an online meeting experience. After the initial introductions, have the leader come with guided questions to help your team get to know one another and share your expectations of what’s to come. This would also be a good time to share your spiritual gifts or strengths.

3. Participate In Team Building Games And Activities

Upon arrival on the mission’s field, spend time doing some team building games and activities. It’s worth taking this time before you dive into the busy week because a solid foundation for your team is key to a successful week. Here is a great list of great team building games to choose from!

4. Listen To One Another

There will be times when there are misunderstandings or dissatisfaction. Teams have to be open to hearing criticism or ways to solve problems. Be okay with disagreeing and ultimately choose to do what’s best for your team. Without listening, you will struggle with unity.

Your trip will be impacted by how close or distant your team is with one another. Help bring unity to your team by following these four tips, and then let us know how it goes!

The International Impact of Mental Health Awareness

The International Impact of Mental Health Awareness

The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. This is a great time to acknowledge, however, that struggles with mental health are universal and there is little to no understanding in certain countries without the proper education.

From The World Health Organization: “One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.”

Just like we care about tending to people’s physical health, we want to create awareness of mental health issues as well. I remember visiting DR Congo and going around a roundabout in the city. On the roundabout was a woman who was running around and yelling hysterically. She was there daily and seemed out of control. After several days of watching this behavior and watching everyone around avoid this woman, I asked the taxi driver what was going on. He replied that she had a demon in her and that no one wanted to be around that. Though I don’t know what was truly wrong with this woman, I believe it goes back to mental health, and it was apparent no one who saw her had any understanding of what she was going through. She would never receive the help she needs. The cycle continues for many people in other countries who struggle with their mental health, and they never do receive help.

One of the biggest targets for mental health problems is the poor. The World Health Organization says, “The poor often bear the greater burden of mental disorders, both in terms of the risk in having a mental disorder and the lack of access to treatment. Constant exposure to severely stressful events, dangerous living conditions, exploitation, and poor health in general all contribute to the greater vulnerability of the poor. The lack of access to affordable treatment makes the course of the illness more severe and debilitating, leading to a vicious circle of poverty and mental health disorders that is rarely broken.”

The more knowledge people and countries overall have of mental health, the more they can provide support and proper care. But how can we spread awareness and education if we do not cross the borders and go where we are needed? This is why mission’s trips are so important. We can teach and attempt to treat mental health issues while we are on the ground and train others to pick up where we left off.

We believe mental health is just as important as physical health, so how can we work towards strengthening mental health in ourselves and those around us? The World Health Organization gives us seven physical things to focus on that are directly related to our mental health.

Thank you for your support as we work towards supporting healthier minds all around the world.

Are You Ready To Help Us Beat Malaria?

Are You Ready To Help Us Beat Malaria?

Though Malaria was eliminated from the United States in the early 1950’s, it still can affect half of the world’s population. 3.2 billion people live in areas at risk of malaria transmission in 106 countries and territories. Because Malaria is one of the world’s deadliest diseases, one of the top killers of children, and keeps livelihoods and communities from thriving, we want to tackle Malaria head-on by sharing researched facts about this illness and explain what YOU can do to help!

What is Malaria?

“Malaria is a disease of the blood that is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which can be transmitted from person to person by a particular type of mosquito.” To read a detailed description about Malaria transmission, go here.

What are the symptoms:
  • Chills, fever, and sweating, usually occurring a few weeks after being bitten.
  • Pain areas: in the abdomen or muscles
  • Whole body: chills, fatigue, fever, night sweats, shivering, or sweating
  • Gastrointestinal: diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Also common: fast heart rate, headache, mental confusion, or pallor

It’s important for someone who has contracted Malaria to receive treatment within 24 hours, though that is not always doable.

Here are a few economical reasons we should be fighting against Malaria:

  • Malaria-free countries have 5x greater economic growth than countries with malaria.
  • A 10% decrease in malaria has been associated with a .3% rise in GDP.3
  • Every $1 invested in malaria control in Africa returns $40 in economic growth, contributing to Africa’s prosperity and its prospects as a trading partner. (Resource)

The Huffington Post wrote:

“About 3.3 million lives have been saved because of international malaria control interventions, the World Health Organization reports, and malaria mortality rates in African children have dropped by about 54 percent. Hopeful statistics like these help validate USAID’s declaration that the war on malaria is the “greatest success story in global health. But there’s still significant work to be done.”

This graphic does a great job covering all you need to know about Malaria:

So what can we do?

Mission Partners For Christ provides education in the communities we serve all about Malaria prevention, and we provide treatment during our outreaches. This treatment is costly but necessary. If you want to make a difference and help us beat malaria, please consider a donation to our organization to help support our efforts.

 

7 Prayers To Pray Before Your Mission’s Trip

7 Prayers To Pray Before Your Mission’s Trip

It’s important to be spending time in prayer leading up to a mission’s trip. Prayer is the most powerful tool we have and can completely transform our experience on the mission field. But with all that you have to prepare — fundraising, vaccinations, packing, etc. — it’s easy to put prayer on the back burner and be less intentional than you would like to be.

We want to make it easy and give you seven prayers to pray before your mission’s trip:

1. Pray that you will show up with open eyes.

You will be stepping outside of your comfort zone, so it may be easy to try to shield yourself from the difficult things you will see. Pray that God will open your eyes to see His people through a lens that He sees them.

2. Pray that you will develop a clear voice to speak the Gospel.

God can use us whether we speak well or struggle speaking at all. Spend time in prayer that the voice you use to spread the Gospel will be clear and unhindered. The Lord WILL speak through you when you are open and willing!

3. Pray that your ears are available to listen to the Lord’s leading and the needs of the people.

You will have conversations leading up to your trip and during your trip that you will need to have open ears to listen to. This could be encouragement or advice from those who have gone before you. Or the people you serve may express their needs to you, and, by listening, you can make a deeper impact!

4. Pray that you will learn to give love unconditionally.

Everywhere you go, there are people who are hard to love. You may be serving someone who is completely unwilling to listen to the Gospel or is ungrateful for the treatment you offer. This can be discouraging, but it’s also part of what to expect. Pray that you can love those people despite them keeping you at arm’s length and being ungrateful.

You may even struggle to connect with people on your team, but you must love them as well.

5. Pray for your spirit to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is always willing to take an active role in your life; all you have to do is ask! Begin praying before your trip that the Holy Spirit will fill you with its wisdom. Learn to recognize the Holy Spirit’s nudges and follow His lead! This will be great to practice before you are on the mission field.

6. Pray that you will develop a servant’s heart.

Since you signed-up to attend a mission’s trip, it can be assumed that you have a servant’s heart. But some sign-up for the experience or the volunteer hours/class credit and the serving doesn’t come naturally. That’s okay! You can pray beforehand that you will develop a servant’s heart, if you haven’t already, and watch the Lord grant you this desire!

7. Pray that your heart breaks for what breaks Christ’s.

The Lord loves those you are going to serve. His heart breaks for them! Pray for a lens that allows you to see what the Lord sees and for your heart to break for what breaks Christ’s heart. This will give you a deeper connection to the people AND to Christ.

For those who have gone on a mission’s trip and intentionally prayed beforehand, how do you believe that impacted your trip? Tell us in the comments!