One of the most crucial things you can do to prepare for a mission trip is to be consistent in prayer and reading your Bible. It’s important to spend time alone with the Lord, but to also spend time praying, reading, and discussing with your team about your hopes, fears, and to encourage one another before you leave. In this article, we’ve included a few topics to focus on in your devotional time with verses that pertain to it. You can study these passages any way you’d like, but we recommend taking a moment on each one to process how you might implement it in your daily life.
Love One Another
Everything we do stems from God’s love for us so that we can love others. Hopefully, the very reason you’re going on this mission trip is because of your love for Jesus and His people who are hurting. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy or that your heart won’t feel heavy on your trip. Spend time journaling before you leave, both alone and maybe sharing it with your team, and ask God to give you His love towards your team and the people you will encounter.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” – 1 John 4:10-12 (NIV)
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” – Romans 12: 9-14 (NIV)
The Lord has called all of us to serve, and one of the ways He has called you is through this mission trip. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, it’s important to remember the Kingdom of God is an “upside-down” Kingdom where we don’t try to elevate ourselves but seek to always serve and love others humbly. Not only that but we are also called to be joyful when we serve others. We encourage you to look for ways you can serve where maybe no one else wants to; before, during, and after your trip. It could be doing the dishes after a church event, encouraging someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with, raking leaves in an elderly person’s yard, etc. When we put aside our own wants and needs and look to serve others in what they truly need, we become more like Jesus.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)
In everyday life, we want to have unity among believers, but even more so when you will be spending 10-14 days with the same group of people. It’s easy to get frustrated or annoyed with one another over small things, but when you step back and look at the big picture of why you’re there, it reminds you that you all have the same purpose – to make Jesus known. Not only should you pray for unity but work hard to maintain it. No doubt there will be trials, hardships, and difficulties during your mission trip, but your team is your family, and you want to be for each other.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 15:5-6 (NIV)
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:1-4
God has specifically gifted you, just like He’s gifted the other members of your team. It can be easy to feel like you’re not doing enough or compare yourself and your gifts to other people. While you shouldn’t guilt yourself for doing this, try to remember that God has equipped you for such a time as this. He doesn’t make mistakes and He doesn’t show favoritism. Be who God has made you to be, prayerfully walk in His Spirit, and let Him do the work through you.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11
Be patient in doing good
You may not see someone come to know Jesus on your trip, but you may plant seeds in someone that another person in their life can help grow. God hasn’t called us to “save” people because only He can do that. He simply asks us to be part of the process and bring glory to Him. It’s okay if you feel discouraged or confused, but make sure you talk to someone about it. And continue the hard work of being patient and doing good.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” – Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)