The Oxford dictionary defines the word missionary as “a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.” It comes from the mid 17th century: from modern Latin missionarius, from Latin missio, meaning “act of sending” or mittere, meaning “to send”. The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach in his name.

Here are five surprising facts about the origins of mission trips:

1) In the Apostolic age (30 to 80 AD) the first mission trips were taken by Christ’s disciples themselves. Peter preaches to a Gentile audience in the house of Cornelius in Caesarea Maritima, Mark goes to Alexandria in Egypt and Paul (formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) begins his first missionary journey to Western Anatolia, part of modern-day Turkey via Cyprus.

2) In the early years of Christianity, the gospel arrived in just about every European country, however it was often only taught to members of the aristocracy and royalty. Christian missionaries delivered the Good News to Asia, Africa and Great Britain.

3) The 16th and 17th century provided the technology (the printing press) and the religious (the start of the Protestant church) push to speed the movement of putting Bibles in the hands of everyday people. With this also encouraged generating translations of the Bible in many other languages, a key part of Christian missions.

4) In the 14th to 16th centuries, international mission trips began to merge with exploration of new countries and continents. I guess we could also look at this passage of history as the beginnings of domestic mission trips, where people shared Christ’s message while establishing and building communities, economies and cities.

5) In modern times, mission trips have come to represent a way to express Christ’s love for all people. In the bible verse Matthew 25:40. Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.”

Mission Discovery began in 1991 as an effort to serve Jesus Christ by combining and coordinating mission trip resources and US churches to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the world’s poor.

More simply we wanted to match a church groups here in the United States with a missionary, pastor or Christian ministry doing work with people in need and meet their needs through seven to ten day short-term domestic and international mission trips.

Since Mission Discovery’s beginning, over 30,000 students and adults have built homes and churches and have shared the gospel with hundreds of people in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Africa, and the United States.