For many going on a mission trip is a monumental step. I went on my first trip my freshman year of high school and it changed the trajectory of my life. Maybe they come from a family of missionaries, or a friend/mentor has gone on one and they want to go on one as well. Maybe they are simply following the way of Jesus and going.
Regardless of the reason, mission trips can hold a lot of emotion with them whether expressed or not. For this reason, it is imperative that we do everything we can as not just leaders, but as guides to walk with those entrusted to us through the ups and downs of a cancelled trip. You need, especially during this time, to care for your team.
Specifically, in light of current events there are even more questions and fears that come up with mission trips. Many participants may be thinking, will I ever get to go again. There is so much planning for those outside of vocational ministry that goes into going on short-term mission trips.
From babysitters, to boarding pets, personal time off at work, school schedules, sport schedules, maybe even family holidays. For many, the stars have to align just to be able to follow what they believe God is calling them too. It is so important to keep this in mind when communicating the cancellation of a trip and subsequently walking with those through this because with the cancelling comes almost a gut punch after so much prep work. Caring for their heart in the midst of this is crucial.
People are looking to you for answers and the first way I would say you would care for their heart: care for your own.
I know I know, we all know this, but seriously, are you? If not that’s ok and you’re probably not alone, but go ahead and start somewhere—anywhere.
If you are not taking time to pray and be in God’s word before you start your day or even making each phone call may I just encourage you, start, now.
We all know that the bible is not going to give you a necessarily clean-cut answer for questions concerning travel or refunds, but is that what all of this is about?
In the midst of the chaos it can be hard to find a time to do things that bring you joy. Can I encourage you real quick? Fight for space to breathe, to take joy in God’s creation. Take a walk through the park. Call the friend you’ve been meaning to call. If we cannot stop and realize that this too shall pass, then we will only grow short and impatient with those we serve.
As you have cared for your own heart, you can now welcome the ability and space to care for your leaders and participants.
The most important piece in this: listen. Right, of course, we all listen, but are we really listening? Are we hearing their heart? The frustration, panic, worry, disappointment. The plans that have to be cancelled, the work they will have to go through to change all those plans. Let’s be honest, we all just want to be heard. So be patient, listen to the questions and hear the heart of your people.
So we have cared for our hearts, listened to the heart of those we are entrusted with, now what? Encourage.
Specifically, in light of the pandemic today. Look at Colossians 1:16-17:
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
The phrase that has been on my mind and I have shared with a few people: there is great peace in knowing Jesus. Encourage your team and remind them who is in control and that none of this surprises Him.
This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.