In an open air church sanctuary in Haiti, she walks over to me with a twinkle in her eye, seemingly holding in giggles. Taking both of my hands in hers, she positions each of her hands directly underneath mine. Before I know what she is doing, she swiftly pulls one hand from underneath mine, and gently smacks the top of my hand while erupting in a deep belly laugh. I begin laughing too, surprised by the quiet girl with braids in her hair. Though we cannot speak each other’s language, we spend the next five minutes taking turns trying to catch each other off guard with a swift movement of the hand. Her friends start to push her aside, eager to prove their own skills in the game, and the laughter starts to spread from one child to the next.
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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.
Sometimes it's the roaring expanse of the ocean or the limitless heights of the mountains; however, sometimes it's the rhythmic cracking of a few logs in the fire and the laughter of a stranger-turned-friend.
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).
It was the first time I’d ever been to the Middle East. Oddly enough, much of it felt familiar.
When words may fail, simple things like concrete pillars and plaques can speak loudly.
"An architect." Her boldness and creativity caught me off guard. It was the sixth classroom of the day in which we'd asked the students, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Her response surprised me because it was one I hadn't heard yet.
The teenage students were packed into a tiny classroom, and though their language was unfamiliar, the stares, giggles, and whispering felt very similar to the way a US classroom would feel brimming with teenagers.
The heat, the language barrier, and the mental exhaustion of the day was making us run close to empty, but we mustered up more energy for this new group. We began, as we had with other classes, by asking the expectant faces about their plans for the future. We heard dreams and plans bounce off the walls: teacher, doctor, nurse.
Esther* claimed she wanted to be an architect.
We began to talk to the students about the importance of not only choosing a career to pursue, but the importance of choosing their words carefully. We discussed how they talk to their friends, to their parents, to God, and to themselves. Recognizing the lies imbedded in the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," we told them how hurtful words can be. But, of course, they already knew this.
When we finished talking to the class, we offered to take questions. Esther's hand immediately shot up and she whispered for what felt like 30 minutes to our translator, Davidson. In reality, it was probably less than two minutes, but have you ever stood in front of a classroom full of teenagers? They stare at you.
Davidson turned to face our group—me, Mike, DeAhna, and Shydonna—and he relayed the story of a broken-hearted girl who so confidently announced her desire to be an architect, yet deep down was considering being a criminologist. She'd confided in someone she loved about her dreams, but that person told her she couldn't be a criminologist, and Esther wanted to know what to do and where to go from here.
Shydonna in Haiti
What Esther didn't know is that our team was blessed to have the brilliance and heart of Shydonna Tossie, director and owner of Ampersand School in Longwood, Florida. Shydonna is an educator, motivator, and big dreamer, but most importantly, Shydonna's love for children cannot be exaggerated.
Shydonna communicated many things to Esther that day, as she encouraged her to continue pursuing her desire to be a criminologist, but the most important things she conveyed to this heavy-hearted young woman were hope, love, and confidence. The conversation ended in tearful prayers and the kind of hug that must have made the angels sing.
Esther's school was attached to the local church, and following that final conversation in the classroom, we went into the church auditorium with our group. It wasn't long before a backpack-bearing girl with an orange gingham top and navy skirt made her way into the auditorium. Her eyes raced around the room before she quickly located Shydonna. Esther, seemingly forgetting the language barrier, sat down next to Shydonna to rest her head on Shydonna's shoulder. Words weren't important anymore. Esther needed hope, love, and the knowledge that someone had confidence in her. She'd found that in Shydonna, and that was enough.
This is the kind of impact Shydonna makes every single day at Ampersand School, where she frequently whispers in the ears of young learners, "Somebody is waiting for you to be great." Isn't it fascinating how some messages need to be communicated regardless of the culture? Isn't it amazing to think that children everywhere are dreaming big and waiting for us to encourage them to fly? What Shydonna knows and what you and I may fail to remember is that education isn't just about education. When children learn and dream, they're setting a pathway for their future.
If you were to ask her, Shydonna would tell you she wasn't always this inspiring to those around her. As a college student feeling the weight of the world, she stood at a Christian youth conference in a sea of depression. Tears were staining Shydonna's face when a strange woman approached her and said:
"What you're going through right now isn't even about you. Somebody is going to come behind you who needs to know that you survived. That person needs you to get through this because they need to know they can survive, too."
15 years later, Shydonna holds those words tightly in her hand, carrying them with her every day, knowing that this woman—whose name she'll never know—changed her life.
Arguably Shydonna may have done the same thing for Esther. Words of wisdom. A prayer. A hug at the perfect time. Children around the world need to know that we're waiting for them to be great. Orphaned and vulnerable children especially need to know that the world is waiting for them to be great. Though their circumstances understandably may seem insurmountable, we need 153 million orphaned children to know that we're waiting for them.
Shydonna and Esther
At World Orphans, we talk a lot about wholistically caring for orphaned and vulnerable children, ensuring their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs are all being addressed, but orphan care at the end of the day isn't really about orphan care at all.
We aren't caring for orphans. We're pouring into future doctors, teachers, and nurses. We're empowering architects, engineers, and mothers. We're investing in fathers, mechanics, and entrepreneurs. When you look into the eyes of a child, you are looking into the future of that community, town, and country. The child's circumstances may have rendered him or her orphaned, but that is not the child's permanent identity.
The second we start believing that orphan care is merely about orphan care, we've forgotten the potential that lies in those beautiful brains, the passion that burns in those big hearts, and the dreams that soar higher than the clouds. These boys and girls . . . they're going to be great.
*Name changed to protect identity.
By Lori Harry | Guest Blog | Haiti Trip Team Member "WHY DO YOU LOVE ME SO MUCH?" I can't get these words out of my mind. This question was posed to me by Resien, a beautiful Haitian woman, and her question is one I can easily ask God.
When I went on my last trip to Haiti, I took printed photos from my previous trip with the hope that I would see some of the same people again. I'm sure many of these Haitians had never seen themselves in a printed picture. Faces quickly lit up as my simple gifts were passed around for friends and neighbors to see.
On our first day at the church, I briefly saw one of the ladies I'd met previously and I remembered I had a photo of her and her children. I was busy organizing something, and before I could give her the photo, she was gone. Each day, I looked for her again, but she never came back to the church.
On our last day, I asked the pastor if he would take me to her. As we walked down the path between the dwellings, she was sitting in an open space with a few other women. Our whole team, surrounded by all the Haitian kids that were following us, approached the group of women, and I handed her the photo. We both found ourselves smiling during this brief conversation. As she motioned me toward her home, a one-room concrete structure, she said, "WHY DO YOU LOVE ME SO MUCH?" I easily answered, "Because Jesus does!" and I gave her a hug. But as I have been sharing this highlight of my trip since I've been home, the deep meaning of her question has pierced my heart.
I am a "doer" - always busy, always on the go, and always seeking more to do. It's no different on the mission field. Even though the culture is more slow-paced and not organized in ways that are customary to me, I often feel like I can do more . . . building projects, programs, street clean-up, teaching, etc. . . . But, World Orphans focuses on relationships. Trips with World Orphans focus on encouraging families and staff, spending time with the people in the community, and praying for God's touch in their lives.
The way this lady felt because I chose to love her mirrors the way we should feel knowing how much God loves us. It is often difficult for me to accept that I am special in God's eyes, and my friend, Resien, not only reminded me of God's love for me, but also reminded me of the importance of relationship. If for nothing else, I know that God took me to Haiti for that one moment!
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 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!
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?