Sometimes we get really excited to help people on medical missions trips. In that excitement, we start losing sight of our impact.
David Coulibaly, a ministry leader in Mali, West Africa once described performing mission work with americans like this:
“Would you like to know what it is like to do mission with Americans? Let me tell you a story,”
Elephant and Mouse were best friends. One day Elephant said, “Mouse, let’s have a party!”
Animals gathered from far and near. They ate, and drank, and sang, and danced. And nobody celebrated more exuberantly than the Elephant.
After it was over, Elephant exclaimed, “Mouse, did you ever go to a better party? What a blast!”
But Mouse didn’t answer.
“Where are you?” Elephant called. Then he shrank back in horror. There at his feet lay the mouse, his body ground into the dirt — smashed by the exuberance of his friend, the Elephant.
“Sometimes that is what it is like to do mission with you Americans,” the African storyteller concluded. “It is like dancing with an Elephant.”
Ouch! That stings doesn’t it. We often only think of the “good” we are doing without seeing the damage losing sight of our impact causes.
Some things that we should keep in mind when we are on a medical missions tri, that will help keep us from losing sight of our impact, and makes the experience better for the people we are called to serve:
We are not the savior. We can’t “save” anyone, nor is it our job. Jesus called us to make disciples and spread the good news. When we come in with a Superman “here I am to save the day” attitude we step on people and they get hurt.
People need our expertise not our pity. When we show up to share knowledge and love on people it comes across as all of us being equal. When we show up with an attitude of pity we elevate ourselves above the people that we are serving. We are all equal in God’s eyes, and He has called us to love our neighbor not pity them.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be willing to try some of the native customs, foods, and experiences. Being open to the cultural that we are visiting is a great way to build trust with those we are called to serve and help them see us as people just like them.
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!
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!
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!
There is so much planning that goes into a mission’s trip. Rarely do people plan an in-depth debrief for their return. A lot happens in a short amount of time on the field, and sometimes it can take months to process each experience. To help speed your learning along, here are five questions to ask yourself after you return home from a mission’s trip:
1. How have you changed since the trip?
Changes will begin from the inside out. But it’s important to acknowledge each one. If you move along with your life without exploring what you saw, heard, and felt during your time serving, everything will eventually become a blur.
Notice the inward development, and uncover the details by recalling your most memorable senses.
2. What stuck out to you the most?
What story is it that you find yourself sharing with others or replaying in your head again and again? There’s probably major significance to that moment. Was it the look in a woman’s eyes? The embrace of a man who was healed from a lifelong illness? Maybe it was playful children kicking up dust from the streets, and you remember their chorus of laughter.
Think about what stuck out to you the most.
3.What did you learn about God?
The whole purpose behind a mission’s trip is to go and make disciples. Through this calling, WE, also, learn about God! We see that He loves people from all over the world. We see that though culture may be diverse, we can still come before God with the same hearts. Our perspective of God often shifts after returning home from a mission’s trip. We gain a better understanding and draw closer to Him.
Note what you have learned about your Creator!
4. How do you want to show up in the world differently based on what you’ve learned?
Here is when the action happens. You have discovered what has changed, identified your most significant experience, and noted what you have learned about God. Now, what do you want to do about that? How do you want these discoveries to impact your life? You can choose to come home ignoring what you felt and saw and live a life completely unaffected, or you can choose to incorrporate what you have experienced and be better for letting the changes affect your actions and behaviors.
Be intentional about how you plan to show up in the world differently.
5. What can you put in place to remember what you learned from the trip?
Choosing something symbolic is a great way to remember a mission’s trip. Did you bring home a meaningful souvenir? Is there a Bible verse that stuck out to you? Make that verse the background of your phone! Place your souvenir somewhere in your home that you see every day.
Set yourself up to remember your trip’s impact.
God opened the door and gave you a life-changing opportunity to be a part of a mission’s team, so do your best to get the most out of your experience by working through the questions above and preparing your heart for the life-changes that can occur after a mission’s trip.
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