We often cover how to prepare for a mission’s trip or how to support someone going on a trip, but it’s also important to have a plan for what to do when you return.
An experience like a mission’s trip is, more often than not, life-changing. If you are going to experience transformation, you need to be prepared for what it’s like to come home.
1. Take care of yourself.
You will likely suffer from jet-lag and exhaustion from all the emotional, physical, and spiritual work you were doing on the mission’s field. Be sure to take care of yourself! Get some rest, eat right, slow down and don’t jump into a super busy, chaotic schedule right off the bat. Ease your way back into your regular routine.
Also, be sure to create for yourself an environment that gives you time to process everything you experienced. You can do this by unpacking all of your things so you don’t have that hanging over your head and then sit down and journal or think through the changes you want to make or the memories you want to remember.
2. Expect overwhelm.
Many people report being overwhelmed returning to their culture. They go from a culture who barely has their needs met on a day to day basis to then coming back home and seeing people who are constantly seeking more and more despite the fact they have so much. When your worldview is changed from being overseas, it’s hard to see your normal life the same way. Even though nothing has changed about your life at home, everything may look different because you will begin to see your world through a different lens.
Give yourself grace. Don’t try to make any radical decisions right away based on an emotional response. Just think through why things feel different and decide if there’s anything you want to change about your life in the future.
3. Make time for prayer.
The Lord will want to be apart of you processing your trip. He may want to reveal things to you that you will only be able to hear in communion with Him. And He most definitely wants to be there for you as you grieve what you saw and share it with others.
It’s also important to pray for the people you’ve left behind. Pray for their health. Pray for the spiritual seeds that you planted to start to grow and flourish! Spend time with the Lord afterward and make prayer a priority!
4. Find someone to listen.
You may feel alone when you return from a mission’s trip. But you don’t have to be! Find someone who you can share with about your time away. Having a listening ear will make the world of difference! It will likely be someone who was with you from the start when you made a decision to join a mission’s trip. Make sure he/she understands a cross-cultural experience so that you can feel supported and understood.
We would love to connect with you and hear about your mission’s trip experience! If you are interested in joining one of our trips, contact us here.
Just because your mission’s trip experience is over, doesn’t mean your support of missions has to be! There is a lot involved leading up to a mission’s trip. Preparation takes time and is often met with intentional planning. Preparing yourself spiritually, raising the funds to attend the trip, educating yourself about the global healthcare crisis. And, of course,…packing are all important parts of preparation.
(Note: during your preparations, remember, this one-page trip planner makes it easy!)
But after a mission’s trip, you will experience the longing to continue supporting missions and wonder what you can do to stay involved! You will have been changed from the inside out after your trip, but you can’t stay forever. Here are a few tips for how to continue supporting missions upon your return:
1. Pray for missions.
Prayer is our most powerful weapon. We may not be able to be face to face with the people in the places we have served, but we can pray for them and those who work in the field. We can also pray for those who have yet to make the decision to go on a missions trip. Pray their hearts will be opened to how the Lord wants to use them. If you’re wondering what to pray for, here is a list of 31 ways to pray for missions.
2. Become an advocate.
Spread the word! Bring awareness to those you have served — what are their struggles? What can people do to help? Others may not share your experience, but they can connect through your story. Speak at events, share a post-trip email with those who supported you, get people on board to go on the next trip! Do whatever you can to advocate for missions experiences.
- What has God shown you on your trip?
- Why would others benefit from a similar experience?
- What needs remain in other parts of the world and how can YOU make a difference?
FInancial support is often a huge need in ministry. You won’t be able to attend all the mission’s trips, but you can help support what we do onsite! Give a part of your income regularly to the mission’s field to ensure that the Gospel continues to be shared and spread. Or support someone’s mission’s trip fundraiser to help others share your same experience.
Don’t just give your money, but give your time! Help others as they prepare for a mission’s trip experience. Give them guidance and support. Your words are valuable as you’ve already been where they plan to go.
Follow these three suggestions to continue supporting missions even after you return home. And even if you haven’t been on a mission’s trip, you can follow these three steps to support missions from right where you are!
Pray. Advocate. Give.
Every mission’s trip experience leaves a mark for different reasons and each trip fans the flame that sparked my passion for medical missions. I play back memories of my time in each country like a film reel — seeing hearts change when they hear the Gospel for the first time, watching the carefree spirits of communities who lack in material possessions but have an abundance of love.
But, my trip in January 2011 stands out to me as being the trip that opened a chapter in my life to answer God’s call. It was when I traveled to Jamaica that a passion was sparked for medical missions.
Our team served in Jamaica through several unique ways. We performed construction work at a school for the deaf, volunteered with the Eden school, and served children at a local orphanage. At the orphanage, the children greeted us with their smiles and were so happy to have us there. They loved hugging us and, at the same time, challenged us to games of kickball. It gave me so much JOY to serve God by reminding these children that God loves them and He sees their worth!
In addition to those humbling experiences, another reason I enjoyed this specific trip was because my son Trent accompanied me for the second time. My son has a heart to serve and experienced transformation from his first mission’s trip opportunity; he was eager to serve in
There were many high school and college age students on this trip who worked hard that week shoveling and carrying buckets of dirt and rocks. But more importantly, they were carrying the Gospel into places that were searching for hope. Though I knew God’s Word, He spoke to me in a new way that week as well.
I spent a lot of time reading the Bible, praying, and hearing from God. I received clarity from the Lord that my focus should be on medical missions because of my nursing background and God’s gift of organization. The call was clear, and my answer was “yes!”
Since my time in Jamaica, I became more actively involved in planning and leading all future medical mission trips for my church and continue to willingly listen to God’s call.
Expect To Experience 4 Phases After A Mission’s Trip
A transformation after a mission’s trip, whether it be because of what you offered to others or experienced individually, will make re-entry back to your everyday life more difficult. It’s as if you are stuck in the same life but are a completely different person. How do you navigate this? The blinders to poverty and cultural differences have been removed, and you can’t go back to your regular life without addressing the changes.
You will typically experience four phases after a mission’s trip.
Phase 1: Debriefing
It’s important to not jump straight back into your routine without debriefing your experiences on the mission field.
What experiences stand out?
What parts of your trip do you want to capture and remember?
Choose experiences that need further processing, and then dive into phase two.
Phase 2: Processing
There is a fine line between debriefing and processing. Processing is one step deeper. You can sit in a group and debrief an experience by talking about all the details, but to actually process something is to get to the root of the impact.
Why did those experiences stand out?
What have you learned about God?
Phase 3: Navigating
After processing the impact of your mission’s trip, the next part is figuring out how you will navigate your life with all the new knowledge! Cultural frustrations may set in, and you’ll find yourself frustrated that the people around you don’t seem affected by what’s happening in the world around them. Though you can’t change everyone else, you CAN navigate how to move forward.
What does your new normal look like?
How do you want to impact the people around you based on your experience?
Phase 4: Action
This is the most important step to move forward! You can make progress internally, but one must take action! Some people choose to take action by ignoring what they experienced and getting on with their lives, but consider actively implementing changes. Allow your mission’s trip to help you live a life of active intention.
What change do you want to implement into your life?
What impact can you make as a result of your experience?
Allow yourself to go through each of the four stages as you reenter your new normal. It’s okay to be impacted and allow yourself to live differently.
Do you have a different strategy for your re-entry process? Give us some pointers in the comments about your re-entry process following a mission’s trip.
Mission’s trips are often short-lived, but the effects are long-term. It’s been argued that short-term missions are ineffective and often cause more hurt than help. However, if done right, there can be long-term, positive effects from a mission’s trip experience.
The Global Coalition said, “When done well, a short-term trip itself is just one piece of the broader, long-term journey of learning and engagement with God’s work in the world. Through this type of transformation, churches can better share the gospel. There is no greater success than the local body of Christ—on both sides of the short-term trip equation—declaring and demonstrating the hope of Jesus Christ’s reconciling work.”
Here are three ways a short-term mission’s trip can have a long-term impact:
1. Represents the global church.
The people who attend a mission’s trip are the hands and feet of Christ. They serve others because of their love for the Lord! Giving time and energy in service of others is a reflection of God’s provision and love for His people. Introducing others to the love of God plants seeds that grow for years to come for both those giving and receiving care. The same God that is in the United States is also in all the other world’s continents.
2. Expands one’s worldview.
When we travel, our view of the world broadens. We delve into different cultures, meet new people, and see how God’s love stretches across the world and covers all people. Though different, we can unify through faith. Our respect and love for others expands when we walk in their shoes. Mission’s trips give us that opportunity!
3. Develop a love and understanding for missions.
My first mission’s trip was when I was in eighth grade. My heart for missions began to grow from that moment on and led me to financially support other people’s mission’s trips, give to mission organizations, and adopt internationally. Serving can look different for everyone, but going on a short-term mission’s trip can change people’s hearts to make a long term impact and keep serving in their communities and beyond. Many missionaries or non-profit service organizations began with a short-term mission’s experience. People’s heart for other cultures grew and they saw the need for change because of one short-term experience.
The Gospel Coalition said the following about longterm effects of short-term missions: “What happens after participants return home is typically the single biggest factor in whether a trip was ‘worth it.’ We need to communicate to participants that they have a responsibility to steward the visit well. They have an opportunity to support the believers and community they visited through their long-term prayers, monetary support, advocacy, and encouragement. And they have an opportunity to translate the things they have seen into faithful involvement in poverty alleviation in their own communities.”
For those of you who have been on a mission’s trip, tell us in the comments how the experience effected your life long term!