By MOHI on Oct 3, 2019 8:18:00 AM
Short-term mission trips can be life changing.
But where you go and how you prepare makes all the difference. If you’re looking to travel to Africa, whether as a family or with a group, here’s what you need to know.
How do I choose a mission organization?
With a quick search, it’s easy to find a lot of organizations doing a lot of work in Africa! But how do you know which organizations to partner with in your ministry and how do you choose where to go on your trip?
The first step is to make sure it’s a Biblically-sound organization. While there are many organizations focused on the good of individuals and communities around the world, people’s greatest need is spiritual. While physical needs matter deeply, it’s not enough to just care for people’s physical needs without also addressing their need for a savior in Jesus Christ.
1. Support and encourage local workers
Beyond that, if you plan to go on a short term trip, it’s important to find an organization where you can support and encourage local workers who are in the field long term. Mission trips can often do more harm than good if you simply show up, build relationships, and then return home with nobody to continue the work on the ground.
If you come alongside local workers and strengthen them in their work, they can then continue the work after you leave. Because the greater purpose of your trip is to bless the people you interact with in Africa, you don’t want to leave them without resources or support after you return home. By partnering and supporting a local team, your impact will extend far beyond your trip.
2. Build a long term partnership
It can be a wise decision to form a deeper partnership with the organization you visit on your trip. This might be through a child sponsorship or a church partnership that allows you to build long term relationships, offer support to the people who are in the trenches of the ministry, and show that you’re in it for the long haul with them! This type of relationship also allows you to have a clear direction and knowledge of what your team will be doing on the trip. We’ve loved the relationships our local team members have formed with individuals and teams that come on MOHI mission trips!
Do the research, ask the hard questions, and focus on building a long term relationship with a team committed to making a difference in their community. This will result in a better trip for your team and a bigger impact on the people you meet, all for God’s glory.
How do I prepare for a mission trip to Africa?
Once you decide where to go and which mission organization to partner with, how do you prepare for your trip, beyond booking your flights and getting vaccinations?
1. Start (and don’t stop) with prayer
The most important thing you can do as you prepare is pray. If God doesn’t go with you on your trip, no amount of preparation will be enough. Take dedicated time to fast and pray, both individually and as a team. If you are traveling with a team, create a prayer list for your team members and their support team leading up to and during the trip. Remind your team of the importance of this in the effectiveness of your ministry!
2. Learn about the culture
Don’t forget to research the culture and the language of the part of Africa your team is visiting. It is your responsibility to learn as much as you can about the people you will interact with on your trip. What do they enjoy? What conversations should you avoid? Remember that your team is entering into their lives and communities. You are a guest and you should do what you can to educate your team on their culture so you can treat the people you meet with the utmost respect.
This deeper understanding of their history and culture will also help you to see them as children of God to love, rather than people to save. You aren’t their salvation—Jesus is. And coming into a trip with the expectation that you will be able to bring them some sort of salvation apart from God is harmful.
What do you do on a mission trip?
The specifics of a mission trip depend on the organization you work with. That’s another reason to ask questions when you begin your relationship with a mission organization so it’s clear to your team what you will be doing on your trip. However, most trips, like MOHI mission trips, fall into a few different categories:
- Children’s Ministry or Education: These trips can look different but might involve running a Vacation Bible School or reading program, volunteering in an orphanage, or teaching children or adults in other capacities.
- Skills Training: Many organizations incorporate skill training programs into their overall strategy. Join in and teach a skill that helps people build their confidence and empower them to change their lives and families.
- Medical Missions: These trips focus on meeting the physical needs of people in disadvantaged communities, usually with the help and support of medical professionals.
What should I expect on my trip?
Beyond the day-to-day specifics of your trip, what should you expect from a mission trip to Africa? First, expect to be challenged in your faith and to grow in your love for God and other people. While the main purpose of your trip is to serve others, it’s amazing how much it will impact and change your life, too. As you reflect the servanthood of Jesus, you become more like him and grow to know God more.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
Mission trips are an amazing opportunity to make a difference for the gospel in the lives of others—and have them make a huge difference in your life as well. By reflecting Christ, stepping outside your comfort zone, and investing in the lives of others, you will learn and grow in new ways.
In fact, you might not want to go home!
A mission trip to Africa or another part of the world can be a great way to live out the Great Commission and Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
As you look to impact the world for the gospel and share the love of Jesus, never forget how the command in Matthew 28 ends, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” God is faithful to use his servants to impact the world and make his glory known! So be challenged and take part in this amazing mission!