Social media adds another element to a mission trip. It’s a great way to share more about the organization you are working with and highlight its impact. But there are many times when I see pictures of people’s mission trip experience on social media that send a message that is probably the opposite of what they are intending. Of course, we want to share with others what happens when we are out being the hands of feet of Jesus, but we have to be sure that what we are posting on social media puts the spotlight on God’s work and the beauty in the people instead of making ourselves the hero of the story.
It’s up to us to humble ourselves and be sure we are giving the glory to God and not ourselves as we can only make a difference through His grace in our lives.
Here are a few tips for using social media during a mission trip:
1. Don’t position yourself as the hero.
Celebrate the ministry as a whole and what they are doing! Instead of posting a picture of you working on a new building for a village or passing out resources to a crowd of children, think through how that comes across to people. Does it show them the big picture? What kind of emotion will that bring up in a person who sees that portrayed? Instead, position yourself in a place that tells the whole story and supports instead of “saves.”
2. Use social media to connect
The last time I was overseas, I was in a third-world country and was shocked at the number of people who lived in poverty but had a cell phone. They didn’t have clean water, but they had Facebook pages! This kept me in check knowing that they were going to see what I posted and the way I told my story. It also gave me a chance to connect with them and build long-term relationships. Try to reach out to people after the trip and stay in touch! Remember to only speak about them in an empowering way when you share on your social media. It would have been hurtful to post a picture of my friends and talk about the sadness in what they lacked. Instead, I focused on all they had to offer the world and the honor it was to meet them and know them.
3. Be where your feet are
This is just a reminder to be present on the mission trip and not glued to taking pictures or making social media posts. You want to be sure you remember the experience and not just from what you wrote or can view later in life. Take photos sparingly and only if it’s for the purpose of showing others to God or remembering a time when He was working in you.
Social media can be a great tool for sharing a message, so don’t let this discourage you from using it. Just keep these things in mind when sharing and post away!
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 medical mission trip, I challenge you to spend time beforehand really delving into individual 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 involved in the trip takes this assessment (leaders included).
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.”
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!
When we are called to serve, it’s usually inconvenient. We aren’t called into a comfortable place of service; instead, we are called into discomfort. But those who want to serve want to do it well despite the discomfort they may feel. Here are 4 Ways To Serve Others Well!
To learn more about how to step outside of your comfort zone during a missions trip, read this post.
1. Be the servant.
As obvious as this one sounds, we often approach serving others from the position of “better than.” We think we are superior and focus on what we can offer and how much of a difference we can make, but if we want to serve others well, we have to view ourselves as a servant. We are all equal in the eyes of God and we all have something to share and learn from one another.
Read our post about servant leadership here.
2. Listen and learn.
When you listen to and learn from those you are serving, you may quickly find that what they need is completely different than what you are giving. For example, if you are meeting someone’s physical needs and they are talking about loneliness or a lack of purpose they feel in life, you’ll soon realize that the person also needs mental and spiritual support! On the other hand, if you’re preaching and serving a group of people and notice a group of hungry children in the corner asking for food, you’ll learn that they need to eat before they can take in anything you are trying to teach them.
Far too many times a mission team has gone to build a home or update a school in an impoverished place but only takes a few minutes of their time to look into the eyes of the people and be open to what they can teach the team. When you choose to serve on a medical missions team, you receive the amazing opportunity to work one-on-one with people. Ask them their stories! Learn about their culture, their needs, and what their individual gifts. We are all given gifts from the Lord and being able to use those gifts is an empowering experience.
3. Serve with sacrifice.
As mentioned above, service is uncomfortable and often inconvenient. It requires giving of yourself and pouring into others. Service requires sacrifice. If you want to serve well, you must be willing to sacrifice. You’ve positioned yourself as a servant and have listened to the needs of others. Now it’s time to figure out how to meet those needs. This may mean changing your agenda. Maybe it means staying up late to share a meal with someone you meet on the trip and listen to their story. Sacrifice could mean working longer hours because more people show up to receive medical attention than originally expected. Maybe it means making a plan for when you return home to continue the impact by making others aware of your experience and the people who need continued support. Whatever it looks like, be sure that on your trip you are serving well by sacrificing yourself for others.
Remember: “Loving people the way Jesus did means living a life filled with constant interruptions.” -Bob Goff
4. Help grow the planted seed.
A missions trip plants a seed, but the seed needs special care to grow! There are many ways to continue making a difference for those you are serving after you plant the seed. This can be done through making others aware of the needs and the mission, as mentioned above. We have a list of ways you can help the seeds you plant grow!
Read this post: 3 Ways To Continue Supporting Mission Trips Upon Your Return
Now that you know how to serve well, it’s time to join our next Mission’s Trip Team! Join today!
Did you know that 3 billion people have never had a gospel witness? World Mission delivers the Word of God in audio format via “The Treasure” to oral learners living in unreached places. They seek to fulfill Mark 16:15: “And then he told them,‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.’”
Today, 40% of all the people groups or nations in the world still remain unreached. “The Treasure” is a solar digital audio player. It is smaller than an iPhone and weighs 2.4 ounces. The device is easy to use. Each unit can hold up to 800 hours of audio material. It contains the entire New Testament and can also hold Old and New Testament stories, the story of Jesus, and the God story. There are thousands of languages available.
1. Where We Reach:
The people we reach live in a geographic area in the Eastern Hemisphere commonly known as the 10/40 Window. This area holds 2/3 of the world’s population and is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The 10/40 Window is often called “The Resistant Belt” because it includes the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. Eight out of ten of the world’s poorest people live in these areas.
To make it simple, get a map and draw a line from Senegal in West Africa to the Philippines in Asia. This is the main area where we send Treasures.
2. Who We Reach:
Our main mission is to reach those who would not otherwise hear the Gospel. Surprisingly, 6,685 of all nations are considered to be “unreached” yet they are only receiving less than 1% of the funding given to missions.
Many of the villages where we hold our medical outreaches have people who are illiterate. By providing a Treasure, it provides the opportunity for them to hear the gospel for the first time in their language. We are grateful for the partnership of World Mission. To learn more about the Treasure, click here.
3. How We Reach:
World Mission doesn’t just rush into a mission without first spending a lot of time in prayer and seeking wisdom about the needs of the nation. They do not run into darkness without first seeking light. We know that the Word of God changes lives, so we reach others through bringing nations the Bible in their own language through The Treasure. We also know that more than 70% of the people in these nations are oral learners and do not know how to read, so the best way to bring God’s Word to them is through audio. Read more about The Treasure here.
With access to a Treasure, people are given to hear the gospel for the first time in their language and to know that God speaks everyone’s languages. We are grateful for the partnership of World Mission and hope you will get involved in partnering as well! Each Treasure, which costs $50, reaches approximately 144 people with the life-changing power of the gospel. The more Treasures sent, the more people reached! Send treasures with us on our next mission’s trip!
Are you preparing for a medical mission trip? Maybe you haven’t signed up yet, but you are thinking about it! If so, it’s important to start preparing as soon as your heart feels a tug towards the mission field. But how do you prepare? We have you covered with three simple things to do before you go on a missions trip:
1. Answer your why.
Define the reasons you want to go on a missions trip. If you can’t answer your why with a genuine, God-honoring reason, then spend some more time reflecting on your answer. To help you answer your why, ask yourself the following questions:
Where is my heart?
What is my purpose?
What is my vision for the trip?
What is my desired outcome?
When you get clear on your why, you can be intentional about how you spend your time on your trip. If your why is to gain more experience in the medical field, that will be your focus. If your vision is to have opportunities to share Jesus with those who aren’t able to hear until their physical needs are met, then that will be your purpose and every action you take will be centered around it. Define your why so that your trip can have a clear, focused intention and you can walk away knowing that you gave it your all.
2. Gather prayer support.
Whenever you agree to follow God into a new and uncomfortable situation, you are opening the doors to spiritual warfare. Now, it’s important not to let this scare you because you are already victorious. You have God on your side and there has not and will not be a time He is defeated. However, without being aware of the potential spiritual battles and without calling on God, you alone are left vulnerable. One way to be sure you are preparing for battle is to gather people around you who will agree to pray for you before, during, and after your trip! Prayer is like an armor of protection around you, and it’s important to wear this armor on the mission field.
You may be the first and only one to plant the Gospel seed into the people’s lives you meet on the mission field. If this is the case, you must be prepared spiritually. You must know the story of salvation and be able to share it clearly and accurately. One of the best ways to prepare for this spiritual calling is to get into God’s Word. We must know God if we are going to share Him. And this doesn’t mean knowing him through a third party like a pastor or a devotional book (though that’s important). This means diving directly into His Word. When going through the Bible, don’t just mindlessly read to check off a “must-do” task on your list. Instead, allow God to use His Word in your life because it is living and active!
In The Gospel Coalition, Professor Matthew Harmon walks us through two simple sets of questions to ask every time we open our Bibles:
Understanding the Bible:
1. What do we learn about God?
2. What do we learn about people?
3. What do we learn about relating to God?
4. What do we learn about relating to others?
Applying the Bible:
1. What does God want me to understand?
2. What does God want me to believe?
3. What does God want me to desire?
4. What does God want me to do?
We hope you will use these tips to prepare for your trip. Let us know how we can be praying for you as you make your decision to join us on the mission field!