LEADING A SHORT-TERM MISSION TEAM
This can be one of the major highlights of your walk with the Lord, leading and participating in a short-term overseas mission. People are so very open to the Lord in many parts of the world, and you are coming to such a place. Here are a few tips to help make your mission trip fruitful both among those going and to the people you will touch overseas. Make no mistake, good things just don’t happen; you have your work cut out before you come. May the Lord bless you and give you wisdom as you plan and prepare.
Things to Consider:
TIME AND ENERGY
Depending on the size of the group and their particular skills you will need more than adequate time to plan and prepare. You are not going to Mexico or another State but to the other side of the world. Passports, saving and raising the funds needed, health issues (possible update of shots), airplane reservations, visas, scheduling with the Missionaries, and picking and preparation of the team are a few of the things you are faced with. Most groups need one year to six months to prepare. And if you have a certain date already in mind it is most important that you check with the Mission (PTA USA Office) to make sure those are open dates. It is also lots of work for our Mission staff to accommodate groups coming overseas so you must work in concert so that things go well and that God is glorified.
Your group will need a team leader and the team leader will need helpers to assist in organizing and preparation. Their communications will include working with the team members, Church leadership, Church body, the Mission Office (PTA USA) and the Overseas Mission Office. All of this takes time, effort and good planning and the outcome will be fruit that will linger for years to come.
Good leaders are servants, in heart and deed, and will lead by example. Many people overseas have seen ‘the ugly American’ and we don’t want that to be the case with any of our short-term visitors. You go as an ambassador for Christ. The ‘natives’, in general are not ignorant, uniformed souls just waiting for the great white, 2-week wonders to come and rescue and enlighten them from their pitiful situation. They are people like you, yet extremely poor (compared to our standards), and lack all the wonderful opportunities that we often take for granted. Your Christ-like behavior, attitude and service of ministry will be well received, if you are of that mind, and you and your group will be welcomed back with loving hearts of new friends.
A TEAM EFFORT
I have a sign in my office in the Philippines, ‘All Visitors bring happiness, some by coming and some by going.’ In the last 15 years we have had all kinds of visitors. We wonder why some visit as they complain about everything. Motives and attitudes must be scrutinized and you will need to be selective in who is allowed on the team. This will produce a team that will bring blessings and joy. Keep in mind, this is not a trip a couple hours away and it is near impossible to send a troubled person back, so with that, lend your attention.
Who should go? – Should everyone who signs up and has the funds be qualified to go? No. There might be several truly gifted persons that could make this team outstanding for the Lord but simply lack the funds or are just modest. They need to be on your team. You need to pray and ask God for wisdom and discernment. Remember this team represents Your Church, the Lord Jesus Christ and America, so be selective. Persons that are NOT good candidates would include: small children, certain types of handicapped persons (note: most 3rd world countries have little or no provision for the handicapped), those with severe health issues, those looking for a wife or girlfriend, those escaping home responsibilities, independent types, unsaved or carnal believers, new Christians and those with serious mental problems. We have had all the above mentioned come one time or another. They did bring happiness, when they left! Who should go then? Those that understand what it means to be a team player. Those ready to listen, follow instructions, willing to suffer inconvenience for Christ and able and willing to work. May these be the ones that make your team.
Attitude is an issue. Keep in mind that just because one travels to the other side of the world, going in the name of Jesus does not instantly make him ‘God’s man of power for the hour’. Even though the Nationals will make you feel important and respected, no magical thing takes place simply because you go overseas. On the contrary, ones character, physical, mental and spiritual fiber will be put to the real test as jet lag, cultural shock and humidity take its toil.
Why go? Purpose must be explored and understood from God’s perspective. Good reasons for going would include a desire to serve the Lord by helping the Mission, the missionaries, reaching and loving the nationals. To learn about another culture, experience new things and make new friends is also good. To prove, impress, control others, look for business opportunities, start your own ministry, vacation, shopping & sightseeing are not good reasons for coming. Prayerfully selecting the right team members will not only bring glory and honor to Christ but also bless your Church, the lost, the nationals and our Missions. May God give you wisdom as you develop your team.
‘Whatever God wants.’ This is what some of our visitors say when we ask them what they are going to do. Sad to say, this is not very clear, nor solid. When they arrive and repeat that statement, we ask, ‘Can you fix this computer?’ ‘No.’ Can you preach? ‘No’. Can you lead worship? ‘No’. Can you lead one to salvation? ‘No’. Can you repair this plumbing problem? ‘No’. What can you do? ‘Whatever God wants.’ I think God wants you to be prepared! One of the most difficult assignments our Mission staff and missionaries have is to ‘baby sit’ a group that has very little to offer and poor preparation. Keep in mind, whatever the team members are doing here (using their skills, abilities, gifts of God) they will be doing overseas. If they are good church attenders, pew warmers, good at watching others work… they will also be good at this when they get overseas. You must be prepared and each member of the team have a job ready to do.
What will we be doing? This depends upon the gifts and skills of the team members. The needs overseas are many. We need medical persons (RN’s & Doctors, med-persons, helpers) for medical outreach. We need construction workers for mission building projects (this includes all the trades plus willing laborers). We need Pastors and teachers for all ages, including women’s ministry, VBS, Sunday school teachers, school teachers and youth ministry. We need office personnel (those with software and hardware skills) print shop workers and those that can just serve. We need those that can do outreach via music ministry and all other forms of outreach. You might have someone that has a skill that we have not mentioned that could be put to great use. We are more than willing to work with you in your preparation for this mission trip. The teams that have been most fruitful and brought the greatest blessing are those well prepared, ready to work, willing to be flexible and used of the Lord. There is no substitute for preparation. BE PREPARED.
Most everyone wants to get the most for their buck. When it comes to God’s money and your time, it is a must. The mission trip can bring blessing to many or few it is truly up to the orientation and understanding of the bigger picture. Who can be included in the blessings of this mission trip? Here is the list; the nationals (see footnote) , the missionaries, the mission organization (PTA), the team members, friends in the States and your local Church. Be aware that each person travelling to the Philippines can bring two 70lb. check-ins plus one carry-on without charge. So plan to maximize your cargo allowance for the kingdom of God. To bless many, one must have the bigger picture in mind and plan accordingly.
The Nationals can be blessed by: hearing the gospel (via testimonies, preaching, singing, etc), your team’s love to them, clothing for children, medicines and care for the sick, etc. The National pastors can be blessed by bringing Study type Bibles to give them, books and materials (VBS, children’s ministry materials, music tapes, etc.) All types of service and ministry you can lovingly give in Jesus name will leave a lasting memory of God’s love to the people.
The Missionaries can benefit by bringing them things they need both personal (children, husband, wife, family stuff) and ministry needs. Often we were brought to tears by the love expressed in those visitors bringing us needed things from ‘home’ that were impossible to find in the Philippines. We will give you a list. Keep in mind, if the missionaries were not on the field none of this would be taking place. They are worthy of your love and support.
The PTA Mission will have projects that need help, Office equipment and repairs, outreach equipment, things to help the work of God go forward and as you help in this area it helps the nationals and the missionaries. One team donated a portable PA system. It has been used to reach thousand with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ask for a current list of needs. These are the gifts that keep on giving long after your team leaves for home.
The Team members need full benefit. To assure this they will need proper orientation before going, during and after returning from the mission trip. Plus, they will need to be willing to go beyond their personal comfort zones and be willing to takes steps of faith during their stay. Those that have gone willing to be inconvenienced (to live outside the normal American comfort living zone) and reach out to the hurting, impoverished souls, will bring back the richest experience that will bless and inspire many.
The Church and your friends will need to catch the vision. For this to happen you will need to present to them the true picture of what you have experienced with the desire to move them to also get involved. This will help build the Church as the members are moved to serve the Lord and be more involved in the things of God. A good presentation includes capturing photos and videos of people and outreach events, having those from the group that can articulate in a wonderful way what God did, the needs, the ministry, and the future opportunities. Don’t kill the whole thing by having a long-winded member dominate the pulpit as a part of your mission trip report. This will kill any interest right away. Use wisdom and plan this segment of the whole and don’t think your work is done just because the trip is over. As a matter of fact this is your golden opportunity for Missions, which is the heart of God. Look forward to more and greater involvement in Missions and a return visit to Asia.
You will need Wisdom. You and your team members will have seen many, many needs and will want to help. Who and how to help must be considered and well thought out if you are to be a good steward before the Lord. We have had several visitors’ hearts moved by the Filipinos. Many have responded impulsively and sometimes unwisely. Some have even been ripped off by Nationals who are very good in manipulating softhearted Americans. Sad to say, thousands of US$ have gone into pockets of these swindlers never reaching the needy. For independent Americans this is difficult, but we strongly suggest to consult the Mission leadership before directly committing to financially helping the Nationals. PTA spends well over $40,000 a year in the Philippines alone that goes to Nationals and ministry. And we are very cautious not to misspend one dollar of God’s money. Check with us before you go directly to a National. To our missionaries this is no hobby, they have put their lives on the line (and their families) so share your concerns and desires to help with them as they have a much better understanding of the culture and true needs. In the end our desires are the same, that the Kingdom of God would grow and that Jesus would be known and glorified.
What is all this going to cost? Raised by a father and mother that went through the Great Depression I have been known to be a little tight. That means, I hate to waste money, especially God’s money. We want you to get the lowest, best price for your international and domestic tickets, and we have folks that can give us just that. If you have sources that can do better please give us their number and we will give them the business. We have a suggested budget for your group and it is on the conservative side. We don’t charge a percentage nor do we charge for helping you sent up your mission trip. To stay at our Mission Center or Mission Retreat Center in Dumaguete City, Philippines is $8.00 a night per person. This includes a bed, sheets, towel and an electric fan (air conditioner is extra). You will need to pay for all expenses for your group and we can give you a detailed outline of those expenses. Needless to say all of our visitors desire to return. Glory to God!
Your expenses should be viewed in several categories.
First, the travel expenses (international & domestic airfare, plus local surface transportation). This includes your transfer from Manila International Airport to the Domestic airport and on your return an over night stay in Manila. Next, you’re housing and food expenses while in the Philippines. PTA has a very inexpensive budget, (rooms and food) while staying in the Province (note: everything costs more in Manila). Thirdly, funds brought for ministry. The needs are great in third world Countries. Our dollar goes far in helping many. How much do you want to help? You and your Church will be blessed for any and all help for mission projects in Asia. The last would be personal expenses. This includes souvenirs, personal comfort needs, etc.
For all groups of 10 and above a $200 deposit is required once the date is set. This deposit is non-refundable. Again, at this time we charge no amount for the work and involvement of our Filipino staff and USA PTA staff time and help. Do we need support? Yes. All love offerings are appreciated and wisely used for His Kingdom.
Please feel free to contact our Pastoral Training of Asia (PTA) Office in the USA 949-348-1808, email ptadavis1949@gmailcom Pastor Jim Davis is available to meet with your group and give an orientation and preparation materials. May the Lord bless you in your growth in world missions.
Note: The word Nationals is used instead of Natives. The word Native is offensive to most people groups in Asia who speak English as it is understood as backward or ignorant types.
Other PTA documents available include: PHILIPPINE ORIENTATION, GETTING THROUGH THE MANILA AIRPORT, WHAT TO BRING IN THE BOXES, and WHAT TO TEACH
Do not reproduce without permission.