One of the great joys of being a Christian is the opportunity to partake in short-term mission trips. Being the hands and feet of Jesus in the lives of others is one of the most fulfilling and life-impacting parts of what we’re called to do.

Whether you’re digging wells to provide clean water to those who need it or helping a team build new schools, the work you do matters. Before you pack your bags and head to the airport, take time to properly prepare for what you’re walking into. To best help the communities you’re visiting, you need to be both spiritually and practically prepared. Here are three tips to help you get ready for your next short-term mission trip.

Equip Yourself

Before you begin filling a suitcase, it’s important to know about the area you’ll be visiting. Do your research on climate patterns, cultural traditions, and the environment in which you’ll be spending the majority of your time.

Your first inclination may be to pack basic T-shirts and pants, but keep in mind that the cultural norms of the area may dictate appropriate attire. While your intention may be dressing for comfort, it could be misinterpreted, so it’s key to know the traditions in advance.


Photo by Resi Kling

Another important aspect of traveling abroad is medical care. There are a variety of medical-based risk factors to take into consideration before taking trips to underdeveloped areas. The last thing you want on your trip is to catch an illness or virus that you could avoid given the proper preventative care. Look into short term health insurance plans to cover various medical costs for pre and post-trip needs. Having precautionary measures taken care of before your departure gives you peace of mind to be fully present in the work you’re doing.

Prepare Your Heart and Mind

Mission trips are often the source of great spiritual and mental uplift. Serving others for the sake of spreading God’s love can fill your heart to a place of overflow. To fully embark on this journey, be mindful of the emotional and spiritual preparation it will entail. Before you leave, take time to open your heart to what God is calling you to do. Invest time in reading scripture, journaling key passages to share with the local community, and devote quiet time to spend with Jesus.


Photo by Joel Muniz

If you’re unsure where to begin in your spiritual preparation, there are plenty of tools to use. Websites who sell supplies for churches will often carry journals specifically designed for mission trip attendees. This resource provides you with tangible tools in the areas of teamwork, servanthood, and other aspects that your trip will require of you.

Leave a Mark

You can also use the aforementioned site to purchase bibles, devotionals, or various translations of key materials to give to the leaders of the community you’ll be serving. In doing so, you provide them with the tangible tools they’ll need to continue pouring into their people. When you arrive, ask the church leaders where they have the most need in their community outside of the work you’re scheduled to do. It might not be a realistic achievement in the duration of your stay, but praying over their needs makes waves in the eyes of God.


Photo by Avel Chuklanov

Remember that your role as a mission worker is to do more than physical labor. Your presence in the lives of those you meet could be the first reflection of Jesus they’ve seen. Make the time to prepare your heart and mind to be a testimony of his great love. When you invest in yourself in preparation to pour into others, you’ll leave a Christ-like impact that lasts long after you’ve boarded your flight home.

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