Averaging 30 teams and 300 people each year, World Orphans sees the value in short-term mission trips. We send teams because we believe healthy relationships can be motivating, empowering, and life-giving.
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Your son just returned for fall break—a week off from his first semester at college. He tosses his duffel bag on the floor and walks into the kitchen, a grin spreading across the width of his face, "Mom, I want to go on a mission trip."
Your mind alternates between sheer panic and overwhelming pride, "Okay. Let me discuss this with your father, do some research, and-"
He's not listening. The fact that you didn't say, "no," was deemed to be a "yes." He's already texted three friends, and he's halfway through an Instagram story about his upcoming mission trip to an unknown location. As he exits the kitchen, face submerged in his phone, you hear, "Thanks, Mom!"
Well, now what? Where do you even begin?
After you collect your family members for a heart-to-heart about this upcoming mission trip, discussing motives, desires, expected outcomes, etc., then it's time to determine an organization.
Picking an Organization
If you haven't done so recently, take a couple deep breaths.
The Standards of Excellence (SOE) in Short-Term Mission is an accrediting and resourcing body for those who send, receive, facilitate, and support short-term mission (STM) endeavors. When it comes to determining an organization to take a short-term trip with, SOE has created seven standards that can help guide your decision-making process.
- God-Centeredness: An excellent short-term mission seeks first God’s glory and his kingdom.
- Empowering Partnerships: An excellent short-term mission establishes healthy, interdependent, on-going relationships between sending and receiving partners.
- Mutual Design: An excellent short-term mission collaboratively plans each specific outreach for the benefit of all participants.
- Comprehensive Administration: An excellent short-term mission exhibits integrity through reliable set-up and thorough administration for all participants.
- Qualified Leadership: An excellent short-term mission screens, trains, and develops capable leadership for all participants.
- Appropriate Training: An excellent short-term mission prepares and equips all participants for the mutually designed outreach.
- Thorough Follow Through: An excellent short-term mission assures evaluation, debriefing and appropriate follow-through for all participants.
For additional information, you can review the detailed online booklet that unpacks these standards.
World Orphans is an accredited SOE member; therefore, we meet the highest best practice standards established for short-term missions, showing our commitment to quality and excellence in STM. World Orphans offers two types of mission trips.*
To get a better understanding of how to prepare your son or daughter for his or her trip, we invite you to learn from Sr. Director of Mobilization Kate Borders. Kate has served with World Orphans since 2009, and she is passionate about mobilizing teams with excellence.
What can a parent do to help his/her child mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare for a mission trip?
Kate: Make time and space for preparation. Our culture is so fast paced. We want to be able to check a box that says, "we’ve prepared," but good preparation takes time. Whether it’s committing to team meetings or simply making time as a family to read books, think, talk, and pray, look at the preparation as part of the journey. There are a lot of really wonderful resources, but one of the most important things a parent can do is make plenty of time and space to read, study, talk, and pray.
Are there specific things you would advise parents to avoid prior to their child leaving?
Kate: Read and research plenty in advance. Choose one quality source for information, and then try not to exhaust yourself by reading too much. Travel is always risky, and international travel is even more risky. This is simply a fact. If your child wants to go on a mission trip, and you’re concerned about safety, read the State Department travel warnings right away and talk with the people leading the trip to decide—as a family–if you’re comfortable with the level of risk. At World Orphans, we work as hard as we can to minimize risk, but we know we can’t eliminate the risk. Get to know the organization your child wants to travel with to be sure you’re comfortable with their approach and make an informed and prayerful decision as a family. Then, stick to the decision.
Can you briefly describe the process that World Orphans walks trip participants through prior to departure?
Kate: We start with an application process in order to build a team. For Journey Trips, we personally interview each candidate and review their references. When our US church partners are putting their teams together for Church Partnership trips, we collect applications and encourage church leaders to be sure they feel confident about the composition of the team. Just because someone desires to go on a trip doesn’t mean they should go. We encourage team leaders to feel the freedom to say, "no," to an applicant if they are not a good fit for a team.
Once the team has been selected, training and preparation begin. Our Journey Trip teams have six pre-trip training sessions via conference call to go through the World Orphans Team Handbook. Our Church Partnership teams are often able to conduct their pre-field training in person.
The goal in training and preparation is heart-level preparation, so our teams spend time with our international church partners from a posture of humility and learning. We desire trip preparation to be part of bigger-picture discipleship in a team member's life.
Practically, a few of the key pieces are: trip insurance, STEP registration, ensuring team members understand emergency response protocol, ensuring everyone feels confident about packing, discussions on expectactions in transit, etc.
If I'm a mother, and I've just told my child he can travel to Ethiopia—and perhaps all of that is suddenly hitting me—what would you say to me? Do you have any words of encouragement or assurance for the parent whose child is about to take his first STM?
Kate: Coming from a biblical perspective, it’s about trust and control. I was 16 when I traveled internationally without my parents for the first time, and I was 19 the first time I went internationally to a place that was tagged "risky." Both times, I was probably pretty unaware of how significant it was for my parents to be so supportive of my desire to travel and see the church around the world. As I got older, I became increasingly grateful that my parents were supportive of my growing passion for missions. And now, as a parent myself, I realize the enormous step of trust it was for them to let me travel as a teenager and young adult (and then continue to be supportive as I became an adult and made decisions more independently). I know I will struggle with letting my children travel internationally if that's their desire (maybe I’ll just have to go with them!). I pray I will be wise, and I pray I won’t be fearful. I pray I will trust the Lord’s good plans for my children, even if that makes me nervous. So my encouragement would be to think about the big picture, make an informed decision that you’re comfortable with, and then look to your local community as you determine what it looks like to trust the Lord in the midst of being nervous, knowing that this may be the first of many letting-go experiences as your child grows.
Welcoming your child home may feel almost as overwhelming as preparing them to go. To assist you with this, we invite you to take a couple minutes to learn from Mobilization Director Amie Martin. Amie has been on staff with World Orphans since 2014. In this role, she manages and oversees all details and logistics of casting vision for, planning, preparing, and implementing all World Orphans Church Partnership and Journey Trips.
A person returning from a mission trip certainly has a lot to process. What are some ways that parents can gracefully and intentionally engage with their children when they return from their trip?
Amie: I would say there are six really important things. First of all, listen. Really set aside intentional time to listen without having other distractions. Secondly, ask thoughtful questions to help your child process their experience, not just logistical questions about what they did, but, "In light of the Gospel, how are you feeling and thinking through what you experienced?" Ask, "What did God show you about who He is? What did God teach you about yourself and your role as a child of God?" Thirdly, look for ways to point them to Jesus for those hard places where they may be emotionally struggling. This is a huge opportunity to disciple your own child. Fourth, encourage them to get plugged in somewhere in the local community to help the hurting and vulnerable. Fifth, before they traveled with an organization, you probably checked out the organization to determine if they offered any pre-field training or debriefing that included a handbook or journal. Look for additional resources online to help them process the experience. Finally, if you feel like you are not equipped to help them process the experience, hook them up with a spiritual mentor at church or someone with a knowledgeable and passionate heart towards missions that can walk with them and help them process the experience. One of the biggest weaknesses of short-term trips is a wasted experience, so strive to help them process it well.
What surprising behaviors might parents witness from their recently-returned children?
Amie: They may cry or get angry at situations and circumstances that used to be normal. They may isolate themselves. They may try to make big changes in their personal life that seem out of the ordinary. Some may be really positive changes, though, and we certainly want to encourage that.
In addition to practical things parents should do, are there things parents should avoid?
Amie: Avoid minimizing the experience and their emotions. Listen to what they think God might be leading them to and where God might be calling them to serve. Support them and come behind them. Try to see this process as more than a mission trip experience, recognizing it can be an opportunity or jumping off point for deeper engagement with the Gospel and loving marginalized people.
What does World Orphans do to assist and process with those returning from a World Orphans STM?
Amie: We take time to debrief the team as a group and individually, continuing relationship with them through multiple venues, and encouraging them to have a mentor at their home church or someone they are in relationship with in an ongoing face-to-face way. We point them to next steps and other active ways to engage post-trip with hurting, marginalized people both locally and globally. We create social networks, where they can stay in touch with each other to process the experience and continue being encouraged by one another.
If I'm a father whose daughter just returned from Haiti, and I'm struggling to connect with her or feeling overwhelmed by her changes in behavior, what words of encouragement could you offer me?
Amie: Breathe. Many trip-goers think that the only people who can relate to how they are feeling are the people that went with them. Be patient, be gracious, and be gentle. Pray for her, and point her to Scripture. Instead of pulling away from her, press in to the struggle and intentionally make a place and plan to help her process.
We know that it can be overwhelming—regardless of how you feel about missions—when your child wants to pursue a mission trip opportunity. We hope these resources—all recommendations from Kate and Amie—are an encouragement to you and your son or daughter.
World Orphans Resources
We're eager to hear from you! Share your stories, other resources, and thoughts below. You may also comment below with your additional questions about mission trips or traveling internationally with World Orphans.
*World Orphans does not allow minors to go on a Journey Trip without a parent. On Church Partnership trips, we recommend that at least one parent travel with a minor, but this is not a requirement.
A few minutes later, Sherrí sat—amid the cacophony of dozens of children—face-to-face with Miranda, who began pulling the cloth from her hand, and Sherrí was deciding how to respond to that still voice saying, "Let go."
Those that are fierce are sometimes thought to be unloving. Those that are strong are often believed to not be gentle. Those that are brave are sometimes thought to be unkind. But this–of course–is not always true.
Yeshiwork's story is the stuff of sensationalized media, yet it's all true. As a child solider, she barely survived a battle along the border of Somalia–a battle which killed 75 people. She became a child bride at ten years old and stood by his side for 55 years . . . until he left her. To this day, she doesn't know if her husband is alive or not, as he could not be located after a flood.
Yeshiwork has suffered much, yet has overcome.
She is a tall, fierce woman. She is strong. She is brave. Yet, she is also loving, gentle, and kind, as evidenced by the little boy who has so clearly stolen her heart.
Moses walks into the room, weighed down by the heavy backpack on his tiny shoulders. He looks shyly at the guests in the room, yet marches over to Yeshiwork, and climbs onto her lap to plant a kiss on her cheek. A sparkle can be seen in her otherwise serious eyes.
She prays for him, believing he will be a leader. Though she loves him, she is not given to nonsense. Yeshiwork expects him to be disciplined in his studies and to attend the after-school programs at school in addition to his regular schooling. Without her, Moses' life could have looked so different . . . if his life had come to be at all.
Yeshiwork is Moses' grandmother, and without her desperate plea for his life to be spared, Moses would have been aborted. Conceived through rape, Moses was a sign of shame. Tradition dictated that, once he was born, he would be an outcast and he would forever be reminded of the pain that brought him into the world. One week after he his birth, Moses' mother left him in Yeshiwork's care. Out of humiliation, his grandfather left.
Yeshiwork had nothing but a tiny, defenseless infant. She was a warrior for him before he was even born, and yet that was only the beginning.
Believing it was important to "give him a life," Yeshiwork has loved him like her own son. Through the World Orphans Home Based Care program, a local church has partnered with Yeshiwork, enabling her to care for him well. The church's partnership helps to ensure that Moses is being provided for physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Home Based Care enables Moses to grow up under the loving care of the woman who fought for him. Without the local church, Yeshiwork would most likely have been forced to surrender Moses at an orphanage, unable to provide for his needs as a single elderly woman.
Orphan care, at its roots, should always be about strengthening families, both the families that have welcome orphaned children into their homes and those families whose children are vulnerable to abandonment. Through Home Based Care, families are strengthened through the local church with support, educational resources, and provisions for the child's education, food, and medical needs as is necessary. We know that children thrive when they are in families, and we seek to see those families stay together rather than be torn apart by poverty.
Yeshiwork has fiercely and selflessly loved Moses, a boy previously destined to be an outcast. It is a privilege, as the global church, to stand in her corner and celebrate Moses' precious life.
She walked into Sharehouse Coffee looking for a caffeinated pick-me-up, but what she found instead was purpose, community, and a vision for the future. That sounds like a pretty good cup of coffee, right? Well, it wasn’t just the coffee (although that probably helped).
One of the first times I can recall fighting with God was a real Jacob-wrestling-God kind of moment in a tiny village in Malawi, Africa, where views are spectacular and resort-like, but poverty is brutal and debilitating. Poverty shoves itself in your face and demands that you respond. Having grown up in a stable, comfortable home in the US, I had a lot to process. I had to wrestle through the confusion – Am I even on the same planet? – the anger –Why are children dying as a direct result of poverty? – the guilt –Why isn't this my story? Why have I been given so much?
I was shocked by the world I was suddenly facing.
Maybe that’s it. Poverty, orphans, widows and refugees–are we even shocked anymore? I catch myself frequently turning the TV off or scrolling quickly on Facebook or hiding the post or changing the station because . . . I don’t want my heart to break. I tell myself that it’s because I get it–I know what’s going on in the world and I know I’m supposed to do something about it. Don’t tell me the story. Don’t make me feel sad. I get it. Do I really, though?
Do you? Do we–in a society that promotes comfort above all–allow ourselves to feel heartbreak?
In some ways, I feel immuned. I’ve been on the mission trips. I’ve heard the stories. I’ve seen the pictures, but then, sometimes there’s that story or that picture or that moment I didn’t expect, and I feel real pain, and I’m surprised. Have we forgotten what it's like to empathetically hurt for one another? Are we afraid to hurt? Are we afraid to feel convicted?
What would it look like if we started letting ourselves feel heartbroken? What would change if we, as Matt Maher so famously sings, let God “break our hearts for what breaks [His]”? What breaks God's heart?
God "defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing." Deuteronomy 10:18
"Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Isaiah 1:17
"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5
"This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hands of their oppressors those who have been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place." Jeremiah 22:3
"The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked." Psalm 146:9
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
So, as we look at those who face poverty, orphaning, and every kind of human injustice, let us "weep with those who weep", but let us not merely sit in the heartbreak and the weeping. Let us use that heartbreak to spur us on to something more, something crazy . . .
. . . something we hadn’t previously considered. Adoption. Foster care. A mission trip. Creating that nonprofit. Pursuing that job. Taking that risk.
Love isn't a word. Love is a verb. It often begins with empathetic heartbreak; however, it certainly doesn't end there.
Where can we start?
- Get educated. Learn about global injustices, how the church is addressing those injustices, and how we should be addressing those injustices in the future. Looking for some reading materials? Check these out:
- Revolution in World Missionsby K. P. Yohannan
- Generous Justice by Timothy Keller
- Love Doesby Bob Goff
- When Helping Hurtsby Steven Corbett and Brian Fikkert
- The Poor Will Be Gladby Peter Greer and Phil Smith
- Get involved locally. Find out what ministries your church or community organizations offer for the marginalized in your area, and get plugged in somewhere. If you choose to serve with a local nonprofit organization, be sure to do your research, verifying that money is being stewarded well. Consider helping with:
- After-school programs and programs catered towards underprivileged youth. (Your local schools should know what programs are currently available.)
- Tutoring and literacy training. (Find out if Literacy Volunteers of America works in your area.)
- Assist with job skills training and preparation in your area. (Learn more through Jobs for Life.)
- Minister to those in prison.
- Can't find a ministry that makes use of your gifts and abilities? Start your own.
- Get involved globally. You can get plugged in with a variety of international ministries. Remember, though, to always do your research on how donations are being used. World Orphans is dedicated to using resources well, as we grow projects in 12 different countries. Opportunities for involvement through World Orphans are abundant:
Weep for a season. Allow your heart to break. Cry out to God. Then, . . .
Well, we're about two weeks into those resolutions. The holiday festivities have ceased. It's back to work and back to reality. The decorations have been stashed until next year (hopefully). As we dive into 2016, though, we'd be amiss to not rejoice in the challenges we faced, lessons we learned, and victories we celebrated over the course of the last year. Without further adieu, we invite you to reminisce with us as we look back on ten of our favorite blog posts from the last year:
- Jeremy gave us the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia, where we saw women empowered and children being given the gift of hope.
- We stepped back in time with David, as we learned about the heart of the early church for children who have been orphaned.
- Kathy ushered us through the doors of secondary schools in Kenya, where we met children who are not merely surviving, but thriving!
- We discovered what's different about a trip with World Orphans.
- Kevin taught us practical ways to deal with conflict.
- We considered the beauty in the brokenness as we reflected on the Haiti earthquake of 2010 and the hope that springs anew there.
- Why a home rather than an orphanage? We looked at that question.
- With loud shouts of joy, songs of praise, and tears of happiness, we took a closer look into Iraq and saw God moving in powerful ways.
- As Matthew guided us through the process, we considered what it means to love each other well, to abide in Christ, and to be the kind of father that magnifies our Heavenly Father.
- We learned more about the orphan crisis and we considered what the church's role should be in caring for those that have been orphaned.
God is working in powerful ways across the globe, and we are thankful for the privilege to be his hands and feet as we equip, inspire, and mobilize the church to care for orphaned and vulnerable children. Let's press on...
...until they all have homes.
By Bailey Kalvelage | C2C Mobilization Director Isn’t it true - “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)? If this is the case, the giver in fact becomes the receiver - of joy, contentment, wisdom, and much more. Join me to peek into the lives of five US churches most often viewed as the givers. In this blog we’ll see how they have, in fact, become receivers.
Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for five fabulous US churches from Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. These faithful followers of Christ have partnered with World Orphans to lovingly care for orphaned and vulnerable children. With a combined 24-years of partnership experience, these churches will share how World Orphans short-term mission trips have impacted their own hearts and communities.
Our interviewees include…
- Suzanne of Lakewood Christian Church (McAlester, OK): Co-leader of their 5-year-old partnership with Eglise de Dieu D’Andullan of Haiti.
- Bethel Korean Presbyterian (Ellicott, MD): 3-year-old partnership with Eglise Baptiste Bellevue Salem of Haiti.
- George of Temple Baptist Church (Hattiesburg, MS) – Leader of their 5-year-old partnership with Eglise de Dieu de la Bible of Haiti.
- Kim of Calvary Chapel of Troy (Troy, MO): Leader of their 5-year-old partnership with United Community Methodist Church of Uganda.
- Kathy of River Oaks Community Church (Maryville, TN): Leader of their 6-year-old partnership with Fountain of Hope of Kenya.
We asked our panel of all-stars to describe the impact that World Orphans short-term mission trips, within their partnerships, have had on both the goers, as well as their church.
Four major themes emerged…
DYNAMIC IMPACT #1: Deeper Understanding | One can be rich in spirit, regardless of material possessions and circumstances.
“I think on an overall level, our eyes have been opened to what it looks like to live for Christ in a different culture. We have seen families, with little worldly goods, live a life of love and community in Christ… Personally, I have learned so much from my Haitian friends. God used a woman to show me that while her day-to-day life may look different than mine, we are both mothers just trying to do the best for our kids in the best way we know how… I've seen sacrificial love lived out, I've seen hospitality done well, and I've seen faith, hope and love lived out well" (Suzanne of Lakewood).
“The Haiti trips have given me a greater understanding of God's people, and have shown me what truly loving others is supposed to be like. I've seen how God works in the lives of people who have close to nothing, yet have so much joy. This has changed the way I view circumstances in my life. I always remind myself that no matter what I go through, God is with me and He is enough" (Danielle of Lakewood).
“[I have been impacted by] the home based care visits. I thought we would be a blessing, but I came away so blessed by them and their strong HOPE in Christ in the midst of such poverty...” (River Oaks Team Member).
DYNAMIC IMPACT #2: Lives Transformed Eternally
“Once a person chooses to obey God's calling to go, God starts His transforming work with that member. Obedience and submission lead to transformation” (Kim of Calvary Troy).
“[The trips have] made eternal differences in the lives of our students. Some have focused their career paths to social work, ministry, language, medicine, or civil engineering as a result of these trips” (George of Temple).
“It's made me more aware of other needs in the world. I am more thankful for what I have and have an increased desire to be a better steward of what God has blessed me with” (Brett of Lakewood).
“Tracey, who has been our team nurse for the past 3 years, never felt led to evangelize at our medical clinics. However, this year she felt called to spend time in prayer with some of her patients… She and her husband spent one whole day at the medical clinic praying and sharing the gospel with those waiting to be seen. They led several people to Christ, including a few Muslims” (Calvary Troy Team Member).
“Gene has been transformed from a germophobe who highly valued his comfort zone into a man who totally trusts God in all circumstances” (Calvary Troy Team Member).
DYNAMIC IMPACT #3: Hearts Stirred to Love and Action
“[The trips have fostered] increased motivation to act on behalf of vulnerable children - both here and there - by the significance and beauty of hands-on ministry” (Kathy of River Oaks).
“Fred has been transformed from a borderline racist to a man who wants to live in Africa. He now considers our church partners his brothers and can't wait to see them again soon” (Calvary Troy Team Member).
“Our ministry has helped encourage other members of our church to think and move outside the four walls of the church building” (Kim of Calvary Troy).
“The teams often return with a deeper sense of perspective regarding 'what matters most', increased faith in the God, increased passion for the fatherless, increased willingness to serve those in need, and an increased willingness to give” (Kathy of River Oaks).
DYNAMIC IMPACT #4: Authentic Partnership Within the Body of Christ
“Every year a team goes [to Haiti], it is really the whole church that is sending us. Even just in fundraising, we would not have been able to raise all the funds we needed without the support of our church in donations and helping with fundraising events. Every year we go, we add new people that are interested in going to Haiti. We also hold monthly prayer meetings to pray for the children and to get updates on status” (Leader of Bethel Korean Presbyterian).
“Short-term mission trips don't have to be about projects or about entertaining the visiting church or making us feel good about what we're "doing". Visiting your partner church is about people. It's about developing a relationship, loving and encouraging one another, glorifying God together. … We have connected with people in another country who were once strangers to us, but who are now our family. We miss each other throughout the year. We pray for each other. And when we see each other again, it's like a family reunion” (Suzanne of Lakewood).
World Orphans is blessed to serve alongside these rock-star church partners! We are encouraged to hear how Christ pursues and transforms willing hearts among those who have traveled on a partnership trip. We praise the Lord who has taken our simple act of visiting each other on short-term mission trips and created moments that will impact lives for all eternity. He enables us to love well, give selflessly, and receive humbly.
If you are interested in joining one of our dynamic trips, check out JOURNEY!
If you want to learn more about how your church, too, can partner in international orphan care, check out WO PARTNERSHIPS.
What a joy it is to serve together with brothers and sisters around the world to care for children!
By Hannah Edington | Journey Trip Team Member Special thanks to Hannah for her willingness to share her words with all of us. May you be encouraged by her faithful, tender, available heart. And may we follow in her footsteps. (Previously seen on Hannah's blog on 9/8/15.)
In just over a month I will finally see the fruit of a process I began over a year ago.
I had been searching online for organizations that had mission trips going to Ethiopia. I was specifically looking for anything with a focus on orphans or economic development, as both of these are passions of mine and are things I hope to see as a part of my future. I had begun an application with Journey Trips, a ministry of World Orphans, but for some reason or another, I never completed it. In December of last year I received an email, which was right around the time I felt a huge push and desire to get out, GO, and make some disciples!
A lot has changed since then. Not only am I not going to Ethiopia, but in a way, I am getting a second chance. When I was thirteen my family took a vacation to South Africa. We did a ton of amazing touristy things and had a blast and spent way too much money and I quietly prayed as we drove past the shanty towns, small huts made from tin, so I could ease my conscience. After all, praying puts it in God’s hands and He can do more than I could ever dream, so really I did the best thing possible…
But now I have to ask myself, what if this is God answering my prayers? What if He is saying, “Hannah, you prayed that they would be okay. That they would be looked after. That I would show them I love them. I will. I’m sending you.”
I want to cower in fear because who am I to do God’s work? How can I stare an orphaned child in the face and tell them I love them when a trip to Ulta costs me what they live on for a number of months? When I got a massage last night and they got to ignore hunger?
I don’t know what situations I will face. I don’t know if I am going to see children who are in clean clothes and receiving education but are fatherless and alone, or if I will see children who are struggling to survive in the most basic ways.
I’m tired of seeing sensationalized visions of poverty and I’m tired of the lies that it can’t really be as bad as the media shows us.
I’m going on this trip because people matter. Children matter. Orphans matter. I live in the conflict of “me” and feeling that I’m important and then loathing myself for thinking I am. The web of pride and the chase for humility (which, when false, is pretty much pride hiding behind self-deprecation) are all consuming when I let them be.
So I’m asking God to take me back to His heart. I’m asking Him to remind me of November 4th, 2013 on Orphan Sunday when my firm choice to never have children first began to waver. I’m asking Him to take me back to when I signed up to sponsor Ablavi in Togo who lives with her grandmother because her father died and her mother abandoned her. When I sponsored Tariku in Ethiopia who lives with his uncle after both parents passed away. I’m asking Him to take me back to when I read Kisses from Katie and my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach for her passion. When I heard about the suspended exit visas in the DRC and about little Ben dying before he ever made it home to his parents in the US and when I watched a woman in my church weep as the pastor shared about her wait for her son. I’m asking Him to take me back to Hosea 14 when He reminds me that it is in Him that the orphan finds mercy.
I’m going because God’s commands and our desires should always be united.
Join us! If your heart beats similarly to Hannah's, consider joining us in 2016 on a Journey Trip to Ethiopia, Guatemala, or Haiti. Click this link for details and registration information. Or contact our Journey Trips Mobilization Director, Amie Martin, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Amy S. | Journey Trip Member & Guest Blogger Our first Journey Trip of 2015 just returned from Haiti, and as the team leader I am thrilled to become acquainted with the hearts of my team members. When God lays something on a person’s heart it is our desire to respond to the leading no matter the cost. – Amie Martin, Journey Trips Mobilization Director.
Hello, my name is Amy, and I recently joined World Orphans for their Journey mission to Haiti in early August.
I never thought I would be a person to go on a mission trip, let alone a mission trip out of the country. I always thought there were plenty of other Christians out there to “fill the gap”, “make the sacrifice”, ”go the extra mile”.
I was pretty content in my small, quiet life … that is until God spoke to me. No, it wasn’t a “burning bush” experience, as I probably would have been paralyzed with fear and missed His message. No, it was more like He put a desire in my heart to do something more with my small, quiet life. You see, I am an “empty nester” now, and it has been a long time since I have been around younger children, but I have always loved caring for and nurturing them.
I knew scripture had specific instructions to the church regarding orphans and widows, so that is what I sought out when I decided to look for a place to serve. So using the Internet I searched “mission trips” which kicked me to a site that all I had to do was type where, what specifically do I want to do, and how long. Up popped World Orphans!
When I first applied to World Orphans the trip was set for May and it was to be a dental focus. I thought, “Great!” I work in the dental field and Haiti in May would be perfect! This must be confirmation that I am to “do this”. So, I invited my friend to consider joining me on this endeavor. She was all for it, applied, and was accepted to the team also. Fantastic! Now I had someone to share this experience with me! Then the trip was moved to August … Haiti in August? Then the dental focus was to be put on hold until possibly 2016. Then my friend backed out for her own personal reasons. What about the confirmation?
But, I knew I really was meant to go - because none of that mattered, the month, the focus, and not having a friend to go along with me. All that mattered was that I was to follow through on the desire to serve. I had so many obstacles in my way to distract me. My mother suddenly passed away weeks ago, my first grandchild was born, and an abundance of other distractions to get in my way for making this trip the experience of a lifetime.
It is my hope and prayer to stay focused on the path while remembering: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
I’ve been home for one week already since my incredible trip to Delmas, Port au Prince, Haiti! I’ve been sorting through many feelings as I reflect upon the week with my teammates, World Orphans staff, and Christ followers of Haiti.
Before we departed for Haiti, my team leader Amie asked if I would recruit a “prayer warrior.” I would keep in contact with this person throughout the week with updates on our trip and prayer requests while we were on-field. I gave the name of one of my very best friends, Renee, whom I knew would be up to the task, since my previous “go to warrior” was now with the Lord and cheering me on. It is because of those prayers that I have felt God’s strength and sustaining grace that gave me one of the most wonderful and fulfilling experiences of my life.
The smiling faces of the children and people of Pastor Carlos’s church and community is a memory I will cherish the rest of my life. The prayer requests broke our hearts as our interpreter Davidson translated. We realized that the requested prayers were no different than the ones we lift up here in America, to be “faithful and be kept in the Lord Jesus and in the Church”. Only their difficulties are compounded with the inability to provide food or water on a daily basis.
I learned that World Orphans supports 20 children through Pastor Carlos’s church and we were able to visit a few homes in a “tent city” one afternoon. As we walked on the hillside through the community of makeshift, two-room tarp homes, people were smiling and greeting us with joy and acknowledgment. There was special hospitality shown towards Pastor Carlos, as he is known for his dedication and commitment to them. I also witnessed children playing and smiling, as well as mothers reading their Bibles and praising God. It was quite profound!
Yes, the country of Haiti is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere; we saw the evidence of that everywhere we looked. But when you look past that, God is moving in the individual lives of each Christian there! That is their Hope, that “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to work it to completion…” (Philippians 1:6).
That is my Hope also.
God Bless, Amy
We at World Orphans rejoice in the work Amy was able to experience during her time in Haiti. She is one of hundreds of individuals whose life has been influenced by the incredible brothers and sisters with whom we partner in Haiti. Amy, thank you for your willingness to courageously journey with us, and as you beautifully stated, we also believe that “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to work it to completion.”
We invite you to take a step to becoming a lifelong orphan advocate by joining us on a Journey Trip! Click this link for more information.
A guest blog, by Simeon. You are invited to lean into some thoughts, feelings, and ideas from Simeon, one of our Journey Trip team members, currently in Haiti. We are thankful for his vulnerability and willingness to allow us to post his blog. We hope it inspires you today in your own journey of active faith.
My journey to signing up for this Journey Trip mission follows from the intersection of two simultaneous stories of how God has been working in my life:
Getting Comfortable with Serving
I like logistics. In almost everything I do, I like organizing, planning, and running the show from safely out of the spotlight, behind the scenes. This includes the ministries I’ve served in as well, such as audio-visuals at church and the secretary and treasurer in the university fellowship. Last summer, I declined to join the VSET missions team from our church, and instead, I decided to support the team financially instead.
I told myself that it was a better use of my resources: I had a summer job, and if I didn’t have to take a week off, I could give that money to someone else who can do missions better! Quite logical. It’s a similar reason to why I’ve chosen to serve in behind-the-scenes roles as well: there are others who are “better” at public speaking, and more sociable and charismatic.
But this was also an excuse. Serving behind-the-scenes is very comfortable. I’ve gotten rather experienced at it. And the problem is that I’ve started trusting myself that I can handle these jobs. It feels like I no longer need to trust in Him to do the tasks needed for the comfortable behind-the-scenes jobs. It was clear, this wasn’t good enough.
Passing On the Torch
At our church, the AV team had stayed relatively constant in the last 4–5 years. But in those years, I also had the chance to see high schoolers graduate and leave for university, young adults beginning to start families and have children. As people enter into brand new stages of life, the roles they serve in their ministries inevitably change. And so I thought about the AV team, “Who’s going to do this after we’re gone?” The current team members have been serving for several years, and we have not had any new recruits. I realized then the importance of actively training and mentoring the next generation as being a core part of every ministry, which is just as important, if not more than the tasks of the ministry itself.
At the same time, I had the amazing opportunity to teach children’s Sunday school at my church for grades 5-6. I love the children, and it’s the best feeling to see them get excited and be interested in learning about Christ. It was then that I came to realize the truth of the statement “the future rests with the children”. These same children are the ones who will grow up to be older siblings for the younger ones. It will be them who step up to lead the high school and university fellowships, who will be a light to their communities at their school, and in their workplaces. It will be them who will grow up to serve as department chairs and board members in the church. At that point, I wanted very much for every child to experience God for themselves in the personal way that changes them to the core of their being, so that they too, would want that for others.
When my pastor asked me this summer to join the missions trip, I voiced my objections that I didn’t want to be on the front lines; he challenged me to try being uncomfortable for once. Almost everything about this trip is scary, and travelling to a foreign country might not be the worst of it. I’m scared of saying the wrong things; I’m scared to ask my peers, friends, and family for money; I’m scared writing this blog post. But I also realized that there is an entire group of children who also need to experience God in that personal way. They too, have the future of their churches, families, and perhaps their country resting on them as well.
I realized that God has been preparing me all this time to reach out to the families in Haiti, and although it’s scary, He invites me to find my comfort through faith in Him. And that’s more than comfort enough.
How is God inviting you to stretch in faith?
By Bailey Kalvelage | C2C Mobilization Director Setting out to serve in a culture completely different from your own can be quite daunting. If the weight of this task doesn’t set in prior to leaving, it will when you start to pack: Pants or skirts? Long sleeve or short? I can’t help but smile thinking of a team member I traveled with a few years ago – he brought a suitcase so large I literally could have physically traveled in it! Options were clearly a priority, and I can’t say I blamed him as the granola bars he packed certainly came in handy.
What does it mean to be culturally relevant?
Culture: “The behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group” or “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.” 
Relevant: “Bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent.” 
So, to be culturally relevant in short-term missions, we must act in accordance with (in a way appropriate to) the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of the people group we are serving.
But how do we do this? How can we be culturally relevant on a short-term mission trip?
Study the culture and people you will encounter. Doing so will enable you to learn much, before you even leave your house. Researching topics like the history of the country or city, the do’s and don’ts of clothing and conversation, traditional food and greetings, or types of things that might offend are all worth your time. Understand and anticipate these topics, and you will be sure to act, speak, pack, and love well.
For instance, “In Benin (Nigeria), they snap fingers before shaking hands as greetings, and say Nde Ewo (hello).”  There are so many fun ways, outside of shaking hands, with which people greet another! And while knowing how to say “hello” is fun, this and other pertinent cultural facts will also communicate respect and love for those you intend to serve.
- Rely on your friends!
Build a solid relationship with a partner indigenous to the culture at-hand so your team is prepared for successful cultural relativity. When you cultivate open communication with someone who lives in the community year-round, you can give them permission to speak honestly with you about do’s and don’ts as you serve together. This way, even if you get it wrong, you’ll be able to correct your future behavior and will be one step closer to people being able to receive your message and acts of love without interference.
For example, a team member from a World Orphans US church partner wore shirts that exposed tattoos on his arms without knowing what it communicated to those he was serving. Although in Nicaragua the tattoos themselves were not offensive, they did communicate disrespect. All was not lost though! Because the US church has a healthy relationship with the Nicaraguan church pastor, he was able to communicate the cultural faux-pas; as a result, the team member was better informed and able to be culturally appropriate.
- Be humble and flexible!
It doesn’t matter how many indigenous friends you have if you are not willing to take a back seat and follow their lead. James 1:19 says, “…everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” Choose to be a student of the culture before and especially during your trip. This will open your eyes to appropriate mannerisms and speech throughout your trip. Remember, much of what you communicate will not come out of your mouth!
Also, if your short-term trip is to a culture very different from your own, you may be met with feelings of being out of control, which can be very scary and tiring. To help ensure you remain culturally relevant even when uncomfortable, resolve to stay flexible throughout your trip. Be willing to try new cuisine or change plans at a moment’s notice and you will be much more ready to relate culturally and minister with a full and loving heart.
There is value in returning to the same location time, after time, after time. Whether you are a team member or leader, choosing to serve alongside the same partners and in the same community, year after year, will help you become an expert student of the culture and therefore further the impact of your short-term mission.
This kind of focused connection is what World Orphans partnership is all about. By choosing to partner long-term, yearly trips become the building blocks to stronger relationships and more effective ministry. As a result, partners are well equipped to care for children and their communities, plus teams are equipped to be culturally relevant, helping to further the Gospel, not squash it - yet another benefit of church partnership.
No matter where you choose to serve and receive, being culturally relevant is key to effectiveness on a short-term mission.
This list is by no means exhaustive. We’d love to hear from you - how do you think we can work to be culturally relevant on short-term mission trips?
by Amie Martin | Journey Trip Mobilization Director Being the new Journey Trip Mobilization Director for World Orphans, I am given the wonderful opportunity to hear testimonies from all over the world. It is exciting to hear all God has done in people’s lives, and all He continues to do as they take the next step and go on a World Orphans Journey Trip. They will see firsthand how orphans are impacted around the world by partnering churches together for the glory of God. One of the beauties of being part of this process is journeying with them as they discover what the Lord will do through the seed of a Journey Trip.
What is a Journey Trip? Journey Trips, a ministry of World Orphans, exists to encourage, educate, and empower individuals to be lifelong orphan advocates, in response to God's command in Isaiah 1:17 to defend the oppressed and to take up the cause of the fatherless. Journey Trips are designed within World Orphans ongoing Church Partnerships to educate both individuals, and the church, to care for orphans.
Going will certainly change your life! Though you will see, hear, feel, and encounter the brokenness God sees every day, I think going will change your life because you will experience the joy of being included in God’s work. Everyone can benefit from a short-term mission trip in the context of long-term partnership.
Listen to how the lives of three Journey Trip members were changed by Christ after going on a trip. This is what the LORD showed them.
1) A Changed Worldview
“Well for one it opened my eyes to the fact that what I stress over is really just a First World problem. There are so many things out there that we make such a big deal about. Having gone to Haiti just makes me want to say, “Really? We are going to complain about that?” It just gave me a better worldview outside of myself, including the things that I find comfortable. I have wrestled with why we have so much and others have so little.” - Wendy Booth
2) Evaluating the Use of Time & Resources
"God allowed us to minister in Haiti so we'd get over ourselves. For me that was a huge part of it. I am so much more intentional about what I say, what I spend, and am intentionally giving every moment of every day into His hands to be His vessel - whether it is going to the gas station or sitting with someone who's dying -if it matters to Jesus it must matter to me.” - Toni Holtzman
3) Building Long-Term Relationships
“The trip made me realize how much our attempts to "help" and "minister" to the least of these really just hurts them more or barely scratches the surface of the problem. So many factors have to be accounted for when attempting to help a refugee, homeless person, single mother, etc. We are so tempted to put a band aid on the issue but aren't willing to get dirty and scrape the wound out. I've been challenged since returning home to dig deeper into those "dirty" relationships by taking time to get to know the person and the heart of the issue before giving them a handout and leaving them where they started.” - Lilly Deacon
I know each of these ladies personally as they were a part of my Journey team to Haiti in 2014. They are now fully engaged in ministry and partnering for the sake of the orphan … for the sake of the Gospel! How beautiful that Lilly is able to witness the need for ongoing relationship when ministering to others, that Toni is able to consider each moment as it matters to Jesus, and that Wendy is re-evaluating things of this world in light of eternity. A Journey Trip may be one of the first steps in your journey regarding where God wants to take your life in advocating on behalf of orphans. He has so much to teach you about His heart for them. Join us!
Check out our 2015 Journey Trips: https://www.journey117.org/trips/. Registration is happening now!
By Bailey Kalvelage | C2C Director of Mobilization
For this post, I’ve called in two reinforcements. I’m honored to introduce you to our World Orphans Mobilization Team! Amie Martin, our Journey Trip Mobilization Director, is new to our team but is a seasoned traveler and traveled on a Journey Trip before coming on staff. Kate Borders, Senior Director of Mobilization, is our leader extraordinaire who has spent several years mobilizing teams and diagnosing how best to do trips according to the Standard of Excellence in Short-Term Missions and beyond. And then there’s me, Bailey Kalvelage, C2C Director of Mobilization. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside our Church Partnership Directors the last two years to send out teams to visit their church partners.
Here is a compilation of our thoughts on the top five reasons to travel with World Orphans!
- And oh yes, partnership!
But in all seriousness, we present the top five reasons to travel with World Orphans…
1. Join in Partnership
Whenever signing up for a short-term mission trip, the logical question is, “Why go?” It is wise to ask, “Why am I going or what is the purpose of my trip?” As North Americans especially, effectiveness and outcomes are often two of our top priorities.
Gladly, when traveling with World Orphans there is a built in “why” - one that is refreshingly bigger than any one person. All of our trips support World Orphans overall vision of partnership: “To empower the church to care for orphans – until they all have homes!” So, as an individual, when you decide to partner with World Orphans by going on a short-term trip, you are linking arms to fight the global orphan crisis with churches around the world that are already fighting the fight.
As Kate puts it, “Trips are most effective in the context of long-term relationship… There’s so much potential for trips to be harmful if not done in the proper context. That is the best thing about our trips - they are done in context of relationship with churches and are a part of the greater whole.” A built-in safety net, if you will.
So why travel with World Orphans? You enter into the trip knowing the reason and purpose of going is to encourage and strengthen work that is already impacting children and will continue to do so long after you have gone home. Your efforts are multiplied 1,000 times over because World Orphans short-term mission trips are not about you but are about Christ’s work within ongoing partnership!
2. Experience the Beauty of the Global Church
I’m just going to step aside and let Amie handle this one. She writes:
“I have been on several missions trips throughout the course of my life. One thing that stood out to me after going on a [World Orphans] Journey Trip is the beauty of the global church. Through a Journey Trip we were able to learn about, come alongside, encourage, and serve with the global church. The global church is already in the trenches doing the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the lives of orphans, families, and communities. It had a powerful impact on me! I was able to witness the bride of Christ, the church, in action as we observed what they come face to face with every day. In America, we don't see what the global church deals with from day to day. I was humbled and astonished as I saw church partners who were solid in their faith, humble in their service, and reaching out into their communities dealing with multiple facets of poverty on a daily basis…. Who wouldn't want to experience a trip like this and grow in a deeper knowledge and understanding of how the global church, the bride of Christ, is bringing glory to God throughout the earth?”
When traveling with World Orphans, we’ll admit it’s less about “doing” and more about relationships - engaging your heart with your international brothers and sisters to encourage and learn from each other. Our trips take very seriously the importance of educating team members and providing a chance for them to witness the global church and how we’ve been uniquely designed and commissioned to care for the orphaned and vulnerable together.
Join us and sign up for a trip! Experience first-hand the awesomeness and beauty of Christ’s church!
3. Be Challenged to Act
Up to now, you can see that both Church Partnership and Journey Trips are designed within World Orphans ongoing Church partnerships to educate and empower individuals and the church to care for orphans.
Often, the most immediate thought is that our teams go “there” to encourage those on the ground to do the work Christ has called them to – and you are absolutely correct! However, the second piece that we hasten you not overlook is that World Orphans desires each team member to also become educated on the global orphan crisis and advocate for the orphaned and vulnerable. Further reflecting on her trip with Journey, Amie writes…
“Pastor Carlos told our team, "You coming here to serve and encourage us is such a gift to us!" He then went on to say that he would encourage us to go back to our homes and fight the good fight of faith doing these same things in our communities. We may encounter different types of struggles (US church and the global church), but we all are called to die to ourselves daily and take up the cross and follow Jesus to the ends of the earth. That to me is one of the beauties of Church partnership and a very strong reason for going on a Journey Trip or committing to a Church partnership trip: we learn from and grow alongside each other, and bring glory to God.”
World Orphans educates and equips team members to act not just on a trip but also when they get home on behalf of the orphan. Just as James 1:22, 25 urges – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says…. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
4. Engage in a Gospel-Centered Mission
One of the most compelling reasons that my husband and I decided to link arms with World Orphans five years ago, was that the Gospel is truly the core driving force behind each program, each partnership, and each trip. Even if over the next 100 years World Orphans could indeed care for each child, each community, and each church, it’s all for naught if Christ is not lifted high and the saving power of His love is not made known.
When you jump on board and travel with World Orphans, you might be taken aback at first that the principle concern of your team is not to build or paint. Rather, whether on a Church Partnership or a Journey Trip, your goal is to be an empty vessel used by God to draw others unto Himself.
Last summer, I had the pleasure of traveling with one of our C2C teams, Temple Baptist, on their yearly trip to see their Haitian church partner, Pastor Thony and Eglise de Dieu de la Bible. On the trip we discovered that, “… last year’s medical clinic helped pave the way to have 2,000 people from [Pastor Thony’s] community join in a month-long revival service. In addition, this team helped provide funds to help feed the people at the revival, which helped the local church impact their community” (Kevin Squires, Senior Church Partnership Director).
The medical clinic and financial gift provided by the team were just means to an end. God used the team’s efforts to help spread the Gospel to children and families in Pastor Thony’s community – “…to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever” (Eph. 3:21). What an impact!
5. Find Fellowship and Support
First, It was not intended that our faith journey be walked alone. On a World Orphans trip, you have the unique opportunity to join with others who also have a passion for the orphan and for Christ’s work. You find fellowship in this dark world.
Scripture urges us to, “… encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thess. 5:11). As a team prepares pre-trip and then travels away from their daily lives, they form a support team and are challenged individually and as a group to learn, grow, and act in response to God’s calling. This is sweet, sweet fellowship.
Second, World Orphans ensures that each team member is well supported before, during, and after a trip. Our Mobilization Team works hard to provide practical resources that will aid you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually throughout your trip experience.
Whether it’s making sure you are registered with the State Department’s Smart Traveller Enrollment Program, that you don’t forget your toothbrush, or that you are prepared to enter and re-enter your host and home countries, World Orphans Mobilization is there each step of the way to help carry the weight of the multi-faceted details that come with international travel. You are in good hands!
I’d say that’s a pretty hearty top five reasons to travel with World Orphans! If your soul is being stirred to check out more about our trips, a great place to start is by learning more about our Church Partnerships and our Journey program and trips. Or, if you’d rather simply talk through your options of ministry engagement, connect here!
Have you traveled with World Orphans and have another reason you’d encourage someone to travel with us? We’d love to hear from you below!
It is with great joy that we introduce to you a new teammate, Amie Martin. As our new Journey Trip Mobilization Director, Amie will work with World Orphans staff, network partners, and in-country contacts to schedule and plan all World Orphans Journey Trips. You’re invited to get to know this incredible woman with whom we are honored to serve.
WO: What are some of the highlights of your role?
AM: Conduct Journey Team discipleship and training sessions for pre-trip, in-field, and post-trip sessions. Cast vision for the Journey Trips, ensuring their fit and support of the overall vision and mission of World Orphans. Develop relationships with campus leaders, mission directors, and other community leaders to promote Trips.
WO: What was your previous work experience and educational background?
AM: Attended Johnson Bible College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Bible and Missions. I also attended Lincoln Memorial University and graduated from their Post Baccalaureate Teacher Program (K-8). I previously worked in the field of Human Resources for an international company for 6.5 years, coordinating benefits, compensation increases, employee relations issues, and community events. I also served as a Product Care Team Coordinator for the warranty division for 2 years. I am also a certified K-8 teacher in the state of Tennessee and taught K-5 grades for 6 years.
WO: What would others find surprising about your role?
AM: I guess what others might find surprising is that I really enjoy organization and administration and how the details play an important role in the scope of the big picture. I love to disciple and encourage others and this role is a great match for the giftings the Lord has given me for all the above mentioned parts of this role.
WO: What countries have you traveled to with World Orphans?
AM: I have traveled to Haiti with World Orphans. I also spent a summer in Ukraine, as well as taken trips to Puerto Rico and Zimbabwe (not with World Orphans).
WO: Tell us about your family.
AM: I am married to James Martin, a wonderful man and father. We have been married 12 years. I have three children (Bobby - 20 years old and attending Johnson Bible College to obtain his degree in missions; Mykala -19 years old who is a naturally funny person who makes me laugh at the creativity & uniqueness at the way she views life; and Levi - 17 years old who is a junior in high school. I have one grandchild, Dawson, who is less than a year old.
WO: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
AM: I love to hike, spend time with people where I really get to know them and build relationships, and I love to swim.
Feel free to contact Amie at email@example.com if you are interested in traveling internationally with World Orphans on a future Journey Trip!
By Bailey Kalvelage | Director of Mobilization
Do you have plans to travel on a short-term mission trip? If yes, this post is for you!
I write with a heart full of anticipation for the trips World Orphans will send this year. Our mission is to equip, inspire and mobilize the church to wholistically care for orphaned and vulnerable children. Our goal is to mobilize teams in accordance with the Standards of Excellence in Short Term Missions.
If your heart is ready to see first-hand how the global church is caring for vulnerable children and families, we hope you will join us on a Journey Trip!
Whether you are traveling with World Orphans or one of the other thousands of sending organizations, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare to for your short-term mission…
1. How You Prepare Matters
Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Before you travel on a short-term mission trip, take time to prepare. Prepare wholistically: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The following tips will help with this, but be mindful that how you prepare matters.
As North Americans, we have a wonderful can-do spirit! No mountain too high, no valley too low (to keep me from gettin’ to you babe). But seriously, all the grit and determination in the world will not produce the fruit of a well-prepared short-term missionary.
2. Don’t Be A Fish Out Of Water
Better yet, be a fish in water. Check out the history and culture of those you are visiting. Understand the years of experiences that have brought them to today. Study the social do’s and don’ts, practice simple language phrases, and take a look at any past influences of missions and religion on the people group you’re visiting.
This is key whether you are traveling down the street or thousands of miles overseas. Ask questions like, “Will my tattoo offend anyone?”, “How will I greet people?”, “What type of dress is appropriate and will show respect?”, “Which religion is most prevalent?”. It doesn’t need to be a research paper and chances are you won’t know it all by the time you go, but a simple, consistent study of who you are ministering to will provide a deeper lens of understanding as you travel.
3. Seek To Learn and To Love
When traveling as a short-term missionary, you are a visitor. You, more than likely, did not grow up in the same neighborhood, may not speak the same native language, and have not had the same life experiences as those you are visiting. Naturally, then, you may not have all the answers. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury says, “… how we get our fingers in each other's clay. That's friendship, each playing the potter to see what shapes we can make of each other.” This is both startling, yet at times very true.
Minister with a humble heart. Ask first, “What can I learn?”, instead of, “What can I teach?”. Understand that, “We are the clay, and [God is] the potter. We all are formed by [His] hand” (Isaiah 64:8). Go, knowing confidently that our principle purpose is to love (Matthew 22:37-40). As you travel, love in word and deed, and then just sit back and watch the Father’s mighty hand use your feeble efforts to draw men unto Himself.
4. Pack Well and Pack Early
I packed up and headed to Nicaragua with World Orphans in 2011 on a weeklong C2C partnership trip. About halfway through the week, a terrible “bug” entered my system and I spent the next 24 hours wrapped around a toilet. Needless to say, for the remainder of the trip the delicious beans and rice that I had enjoyed no longer sounded so good. Man was I thankful that a teammate had packed granola bars!!!
My point is, pack well and pack early. Ask the organization or leader you are traveling with for a list of items that are essential. World Orphans offers a list, as do many other organizations. If all else fails do a quick online search. Pack your bags and set them aside a few days in advance, giving yourself plenty of time to think through the forgotten. Packing early and packing well will help ensure you are ready for work, for play, for fellowship, and for the unexpected.
5. What You Wear Matters
The prior leads me to this important preparation tip: the clothes you wear matter. Be thoughtful as you pack to take clothes that are culturally appropriate (for where you are going), suitable for your trip activities, and clothes that communicate respect for those you are visiting.
Consider whether women in the culture wear long skirts as everyday-wear, or if the men wear only a suit and tie to church. What are the cultural norms? Don’t throw your dingy shorts and t-shirts in your bag just to keep your nice clothes “safe”. Stop and consider that what you wear needs to not only be suited for what you will do, but also that what you wear will communicate something to those you meet. Meaning, your clothes can communicate respect, disrespect, dignity, etc. Often how we look and act (what is seen) will have equally as much impact, if not more, than what we say (what is heard).
6. Get To Know Your Teammates
Team dynamics can often make or break a trip. Often, especially if you are traveling internationally, your team is the best form of support as you become vulnerable to the new and uncertain. Take time before you travel to get to know your team, to pray for each other, and to serve together. Your teammates are among those that God is calling you to learn with and from as you travel.
Keep in mind: this is whom you will be ministering alongside, ministering to, and who will minister to you. You will not make a VBS or medical clinic successful alone. Learn each other’s joys, fears, strengths and weaknesses, and how to encourage and build one another up in Christ before you go; then watch as your team hits the ground running on-field (I Thessalonians 5:11).
7. Journaling Is Not Just for Anne Frank
Before you leave, begin to journal. This may not be the most natural thing for some, but it is rewarding. If this sounds overwhelming, seek out your leader for suggestions on where to start or a guided journal that includes daily Scripture readings and thoughts for reflection. A journal I found most helpful encouraged me to start with the five senses: what’s something that you smelled, heard, touched, tasted, or saw that stood out to you? Obviously some of these will make more sense as you continue journaling on-field, but it’s an easy place to start.
“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior” (Christine Baldwin). As you place thoughts on paper, it often allows you to see your heart more clearly. Write what the Lord is teaching you or where he is guiding your thoughts to help memorialize this time of preparation, setting in stone (just as Israel did) lessons He may be teaching you, Scripture for encouragement and even life-changing realizations.
8. Understand Your Expectations and Assumptions
As you head into your trip, you carry with you a set of expectations and assumptions, whether you realize it or not. “An expectation is something we’re planning on, looking forward to, or regard as likely to happen. An assumption is something taken for granted. Expectations are stabilizing and motivation factors when they are communicated and understood by the appropriate parties. They are dangerous and potentially deadly when they are assumed. Unrealistic expectations and assumptions not based on fact are a major source of missionary stress and contribute to a host of problems and misunderstandings” (World Orphans Team Leader Handbook).
Make a list of all the expectations and assumptions you have about your trip. Look them over with your team and/or leader and take an honest look at which ones are realistic and which ones may be setting you up for disappointmentbefore you leave on your trip.
9. Understand How Your Trip Fits Into the Bigger Picture
There are certain goals and objectives that you and your team have as you travel. But think beyond this before you go. There is an even greater purpose to why the organization or church is sending and/or hosting you and your team, as there is purpose both in your trip and beyond your trip.
For example: the purpose of World Orphans Church Partnership trips is to strengthen church partnerships by enabling churches to build relationships and serve together in a mutually beneficial capacity. While the immediate purpose of some teams is to host a medical clinic, pray with families or help provide family care packs, the overarching purpose of the trip is to strengthen and deepen the core relationship between the US and international church in their commitment to care together for orphaned and vulnerable kids. Understanding this bigger picture before you travel will strengthen your impact both on and beyond your team’s short-term trip.
This tip doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. Stop, take time to lift up your trip, your team, and your life to God in prayer. Search and find Scripture that you can continually pray over your trip. Seek Him and you will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)
Important disclaimer: “Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part” (Andrew Murray). Be careful not just to speak, but also to listen as you spend time on your knees with the Lord.
Bring on 2015!! May God be glorified through each short-term mission that takes place! I wish you the best and implore you to stop and prepare well. May we all take advice from the great President Lincoln: remember to sharpen your axe before you try to cut down that tree!
If you were to add an 11th tip, what would it be?
As this blog is being posted, we have a World Orphans Journey team in India serving alongside our church partners in Hyderabad. The purpose of Journey trips is to encourage, educate, and empower team members to be lifelong orphan advocates. We always feel honored when given the opportunity to participate in an individual's story. It is exhilarating when God shows individuals what it looks like to trust Him completely, rest in the comfort He has shown them in the midst of struggle, and thereby they comfort others. We trust you'll enjoy hearing from the heart of Heather Seetaram, one of our India team members. - Kate Borders, Sr. Director of Mobilization
By Heather Seetaram | Journey Trip Member
Since I was young, I've felt a strong desire to help people and God has used that desire in me to serve in different capacities. For a long time, however, my life was ruled by fear… fear of just about everything – rejection, the unknown, being alone. Because of that fear, I missed out on a lot of opportunities. When I was 17, I had a wakeup call and realized that I had been a “reed in the wind” following whatever was in my life at that moment – sometimes it was God, sometimes my family or friends. I made the decision, late in my senior year of high school, to attend an out-of-state Christian university – and I did not know a single person there – scary! It was one of the best decisions. While there I found accountability and learned so much about God and myself. Since then, he has given me the courage to be on campus leadership, start a young adult’s ministry, and get more involved in my home church. He also developed my passion for urban youth as my eyes were opened to how many people grow up in single-parent homes, without a father.
I spent the year after I graduated from college interning at a mission whose core goal is to restore lives through the love of Jesus Christ. They provided services such as a food pantry, drug-rehab support programs, hot meals, clothing distribution, and above all an opportunity to know Christ. My heart was encouraged by the work the mission team was doing and I believe God used my time there to grow in compassion for others and open my eyes to hurting people. In college I heard a quote, “Hurting people, hurt people”, and I truly understood that when people walked through the doors of the mission. Some wore their hurt on their sleeves by their aggressive behavior and harsh words. My patience and empathy were tested because I did not want to love those people. Yet God used the people I worked with to show me that even they are His beloved children.
I first heard of the work of World Orphans several years ago when a friend shared her experience of working for this focused, passionate organization and encouraged me while I was searching for a full-time job. Last year when my current team leader came back from her first Journey Trip, she was transformed by her experience and shared her excitement and passion often. I knew, the moment she said she wanted to lead a team, that I was all in (though I didn't tell her that right away). At first, I really wanted to go, but knew I couldn't take that time off work. Well, that didn't stop God. He provided a new job for me and changed the trip dates so that I could be a part of this team.
When I was a senior in college, my father passed away very suddenly and I felt the pain first-hand of losing a parent. My heart is heavy for orphans that have never had the love of a father. Although my earthly father is not here with me, my heavenly father has not ceased to provide comfort and peace in my life. I miss my dad very much, but I am assured I will see him again. I am excited and privileged to share the hope that we all have a father, who loves us so deeply and unconditionally.
By Wendy Booth | Journey Trip Member
Introduction from Bailey Kalvelage | Director of Mobilization
Not only does World Orphans send Church Partnership trips, we also send Journey Trips. Our C2C trips are for US churches who are in a long-term relationship with one of our international church partners. But what about people who have a heart for orphan care, for what God is doing to care for children around the world, but are not yet in a C2C partnership? That's why we also mobilize Journey Trip teams. These trips are for individuals who are passionate about the Gospel, the church, and orphan care. They want to see what God is doing around the world and prayerfully consider to what He may be calling them. Journey trips include an intense pre-trip discipleship process and it has been a joy to see how God has awakened hearts and transformed lives through the process of preparing for, going on, and debriefing a Journey Trip.
One of our Journey Trip team members has written a blog that I'd like to share with you today. Meet Wendy Booth. Wendy is preparing to travel to Haiti in May with one of our Journey Trip teams, and she writes beautifully about how God is awakening her heart to the plight of orphaned children around the world, how deeply He cares for them, and that He desires for her to care for them as well. Thank you Wendy for sharing your words and heart with us. - Bailey Kalvelage | Director of Mobilization
I know it may sound strange, but as I tucked my grandchildren into bed the other night my heart began to break. I had been hearing the statistics, but now I am starting to see their faces. I can't ignore the facts any more. Approximately 2 million children are being exploited by the global commercial sex industry.1 That is the whole population of Rhode Island and Delaware according to the 2010 Census Bureau. Can I even begin to grasp that?
I can begin to believe that it might happen in foreign countries, but in America? Then not too long ago on the evening news I saw that one of the largest events for human trafficking is happening right here in the United States at the Super Bowl. Really? Can this be happening in our back yard? I have asked myself, how does this happen? What are the causes of this horrific exploitation of children? As I began to delve into the sad story of these victims, I started to see the picture. Poverty, humanitarian crises, lack of education, absence of birth registration, lucrative activity, insufficient or unenforced legislation, and even international adoptions are being being cited as the causes of children being at risk.2 When I look at this list, I see things that can be addressed, as none of these causes are necessarily hopeless. Overwhelming yes, but not hopeless. Am I going to continue to stay outside the gate of this injustice, ignoring that it exists, or will I step through?
Will I enter in?
I am human. My heart wants to pretend at times that things are good in the world. I can feel safe here and my family is safe here, in this world of my hopes and dreams. Then the gate of injustice rears its ugly head again, and I have to stand before it once more. My Heavenly Father’s love for me will no longer let me live as if none of this exists. It won’t allow me to just enjoy the good and beauty of this world and share it with my grandchildren while there are precious others that that are imprisoned in a world where they have no hope. I didn't know what to do. I didn't even know where to start.
Then I said a prayer. I asked the Lord for an opportunity. He is faithful and brought me to to the edge of an ocean. Would I step out in faith, cross the waters to go to a country I had never been before? Would I trust him beyond the borders of my world? Would I step out of my comfortable world to enter a world I know nothing about? Yes, I can only now say yes. I wouldn’t have been able to a few years ago, but God has brought me to this new place. I know it will only be a drop in the ocean, but if just one child is spared, won’t it be worth the sacrifice?
"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon waters wherever you could call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior."
We would love it if you took a journey with us, too. If you're interested in an upcoming Journey Trip, click here.
1. UNICEF quoted in U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, 10th edition (Washington, DC: US Department of State, 2010)
3. Hillsong United, Oceans
By Bailey Kalvelage | Mobilization
Reflecting seems to always be part of the festivities of a new year. Whether in the quiet of the morning or between errands, we tend to ponder the past year, retracing steps both large and small. I invite you to journey with me through a few testimonies from World Orphans 2013 partnership trips. Relationships were deepened, kids and families were cared for, and the Gospel was spread…
“One of the events we did was a sports outreach where we took four buses of people to a sports complex. The day ended with testimonies from some of our team and then Jairo Jr. (pastor’s son) gave an invitation to accept Christ. The first girl that came forward was Abigail. She is 8 years old. When she was born, her mom had her dedicated at Verbo Sur (church), but her mom died a couple of months later. Her dad later died, and her grandmother is raising her. Verbo Sur has stayed close to her with the Community Development Center and feeding programs, and she comes to church each Sunday. This is a great example of the church stepping in and helping to raise an orphan right in their community." – Partnership between Verbo Sur of Nicaragua and Gaylord E-Free of Michigan
“Every day at noon, Eglise de Dieu D’Andullan has intercessory prayer time. What an experience for our team: to take time each day to come together and pray! Oh, how we have things to learn from our Haitian friends! When I first walked into the church, prayer time was already in progress, and it took a little getting used to at first…most people were praying aloud, some quietly. Several were pacing up and down while calling upon Jesus, some kneeled and rocked, some reached their hands toward heaven, and one woman was kneeling and wailing. To me, it was an intimate picture of how we all come to the Lord in a very personal way. Without understanding their language, I could only see their love, their desire for the Lord, their relationship with Him…beautiful!” – Partnership between Eglise de Dieu D’Andullan of Haiti and Lakewood Christian Church of Oklahoma
“In the afternoon, our team came up to the front of a house with seven young men out back. One team member walked up and shook hands and introduced himself. He started telling them his story, ‘I know what it’s like to be a young man…I want you to know you can have courage and salvation and all the freedom I have in my life. You will still mess up but you know Jesus.’ One young man said, ‘I’m a Muslim, but I’d like to have that Jesus.’ He prayed and accepted Christ. The US team member has prayed for him since then.” – Partnership between Hope Home Care Cyegera of Rwanda and HOPE 221 of Tennessee
Whether it was hundreds of people being treated and prayed for at a medical clinic or a little boy sharing the victory at his choir concert with his US friends, God’s faithfulness has reverberated throughout trips in 2013. Each partnership has unique stories of salvation, worship, service, and love.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Acts 4:32-34a
In 2013, special churches in the US and around the world continued to join in partnership through World Orphans to care for children who are orphaned and vulnerable. This reflecting brings gratitude and great anticipation of what is to come in 2014!
By Nate Livesay | Director of Advocacy
Last May I made the decision to begin raising support to join the staff at World Orphans. It has been amazing to see all the ways that God has been teaching me and making me new this year. I have learned that God is faithful to provide all that we need and that my wife, Leandra, and I are blessed to have some tremendously generous and loving friends and family.
I have continued to learn that the world is bigger than I thought it was; that the impact of evil people and evil systems is reality; and that if I close my eyes and choose not to be concerned with the impact of the way I use my time, talent, and treasure, I become part of that evil system that exploits the poor and vulnerable and shapes a world filled with injustice and vulnerable children.I have learned that answers are hard to find sometimes. The problems of generational poverty, injustice, and orphan care are complex and multifaceted, and the solutions to poverty, justice, and orphan care are not simple, easy, or quick. The solutions require not just good intentions and a desire to help – they require hard questions, patience, hard work, a willingness to learn and adjust strategies and plans to make the solutions sustainable.
I have also learned that God isn't satisfied with grand one-time gestures. What He wants from us is the routine, unglamorous willingness to die to ourselves daily and be obedient to what He is calling us to do in each moment.I have learned that following Christ is not something that can be taken care of with a single decision – following Christ requires us to pay the price to follow Him each day because we believe that He is enough for us.
I have learned that serving God cannot be classified by a concern for people "here" or for people "over there." For many years I used concern for the people "here" as a way to ignore what was happening "over there." On a Journey 117 trip to Ethiopia in December of 2011, God broke my heart for what breaks His. He showed me that I couldn’t continue living a life consumed by what was happening to me and my family and my community while ignoring the reality of what was happening to millions of orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable children being ignored or treated as commodities instead of valued children made in the image of their Creator.
I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to play a small role in what God is doing through World Orphans and the churches we are partnered with. I am thankful for the opportunity to share what World Orphans is doing by speaking to churches and leading Journey 117 teams to Haiti or Ethiopia.
I am thankful for the growth of the Sumter Rescue Team and for their hard work and dedication in raising awareness and funds for World Orphans projects from right here in Sumter.
For me the danger is now reversed - I can't allow my work on behalf of the fatherless we serve internationally to justify not having an obedient concern for the fatherless right here in South Carolina. There is some necessary tension here - I don't have the answers, but I know that this tension is making me choose much more intentionally to use my time, talent, and treasure with an attitude that recognizes that all I have was given to me by God to be used to advance His name. God is using this tension to make me into the man He wants me to be and drawing me closer to having the heart that He wants me to have for the fatherless both here and there.