Six Tips to Prepare for Your Mission Trip

Six Tips to Prepare for Your Mission Trip

Toni B

Toni Burns was raised in a missionary family, they lived in Italy until she was 11.Upon returning to the states her family worked in South Dakota. While in college at Oklahoma State Toni did a summer mission trip to Ukraine. The following year she moved to Lubbock, Texas to attend missions school.She interned in Kosice, Slovakia for 13 months.After her internship she finished missions school and got a degree in Human Development from Texas Tech.Toni and her family lived in Guadalajara, Mexicofor 10 years.During that time they helped plant churches and minister to the Mexican people.Toni and her husband, Cory, mentored 21 year long interns during their stay in Guadalajara.
Currently Toni is a Realtor® in Lubbock, Texas and enjoys ministering to those she helps buy and sell houses.

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Preparing for Summer Mission Trips

Summer is my favorite time of the year. I love the warm weather and traveling. Over half my life, I have been blessed to do mission work and travel to other countries. I have worked in Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, Italy, and most recently spent ten years in Mexico.

There is no greater joy than traveling around God’s creation sharing Jesus with others. Many of you might be preparing to leave, or have a loved one leaving for summer mission trips. I would love to share some things with you that I have learned about missions to prepare you for this great experience.

Mark 16:15

1.  The American way is not the only way.

Yes, we live in a great country and are very blessed in many ways. Please do not expect or want natives to act as Americans do. They are God’s creation just as much as you are, but they might do things differently than you do.  It’s not a question of right or wrong–it’s just different. Embrace the differences and praise God that we are all different even though we are made in His image. Praise God for the diversity in cultures.

Enjoy the culture you are visiting. Try new foods, activities, and enjoy the sights.

2.  Bless the people, but at the same time make your work simple and reproducible. 

It’s fun to bless the natives with neat gifts and crafts from the United States. Just make sure that you are not making it an environment where they think the only way they can bless others is by having neat things that they might not be able to get.  Help them see that sharing God’s message can be simple and is reproducible.

3.  Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  

You will fall in love with people and places on your trip. Please don’t tell them you will come visit or promise to send them gifts, etc.  Remember, “let your yes be yes.” It is easy to build a deep love for those you will serve. As you leave you will want to promise them that you will see them again. Hopefully that is true, but realistically you might not ever get to go back. They will hold on to that promise and will be disappointed or bitter when you can’t fulfill your promise.

4.  Be more like Jesus every day. 

While living on the mission field my husband and I mentored twenty-one interns. One of the most important things we tried to instill in them was that being more like Jesus every day is all that is expected of them. God will do the rest. We go on these mission trips wanting to save the world. If we go with expectations of baptizing and converting we might come home feeling like a failure. This is one of the devil’s ways of discouraging the church. Did you come home more like Jesus? Do you have more of a vision for what God wants? Did others see Jesus through you? Don’t define your success with things that are out of your control.

5.  Don’t expect those at home to understand what you have experienced. 

You will come back a changed person. Unfortunately many people back home will not understand how life-changing the experience was. They might not even think to ask you about how it went. Before you leave, set up some times to meet with people when you come back. Maybe you can host a breakfast or lunch for your supporters, missions committee, and family. Plan times when you can talk about your experience so others can be blessed by what you learned.

6.  Have a great time and keep your eyes open to His blessings!

 

Six Tips to prepare for your mission trip

Five Characteristics of a Unified Church

Five Characteristics of a Unified Church

Tamika R

I was born in Denver, Colorado. I moved to OKC after quitting my jobs as a teacher and YouthIntern to pursue the call into ministry. I started as a non traditional student at Oklahoma where I met my husband. He was a non traditional student working on a 2nd degree after moving from Poland to pursue a degree in Ministry. We dreamed together of serving the Lord in Europe. Now we are blessed to be witness to the awesome way that God works all over the world. We live in Vienna, Austria with our3 kids. We work with Eastern European Mission. We provide Bibles and ethics materials in native languages of Eastern Europe. That means we get to seeGod's hand and providence all over Europe. I am Publishing Assistant at EEM and a fitness trainer. I fill my days caring for my family, teaching gym classes and designing book covers and working on details to provide quality materials to those who need God's word. In my free time I paint, cook, make jewelry and run 2 blogs.

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Why is Church unity important? What does it mean exactly?

We travel to churches in various parts of the world each year. We meet with the churches we partner with and are constantly building relationships with new ones.

It is really one of my favorite things to do. Each church has its own unique set of characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. I like to think of it as fingerprints. No two are the same, and they are indicative of who you are.

Unity is one of the things I always look for. Unity in Christ crosses cultures and any other boundary we put in its way. When the body of Christ is unified it looks the same in the U.S., Africa, Honduras, and Germany.

When we are of one mind and working in one accord as the Lord has asked, it is unforgettable and in some cases truly life-changing.

Here are some of the things I have learned as we have witnessed the power of unity in Christ.

Five Characteristics of a Unified Church:

Take advantage of everyone’s gifts and strengths. They allow everyone the blessing of giving their gift back in service of the Lord, knowing that it will benefit and grow all of them.

They confront whatever threatens the body of Christ. If someone is stirring up disunity or hurting the spiritual development of individuals, they put an end to it.

They pray defensively. The things on the prayer list are more about edification, encouragement, and vision for the church and its members. When someone struggles with faith or in life, they all carry the burden and bring their concerns to the Father in prayer.

They do not brush issues under the rug. They confront them, deal with them, and move on. The first time I witnessed this, we were at a family retreat in Croatia. A woman who had an issue with the behavior of another member asked the speaker about it during a session. One of the church leaders stood up and facilitated a discussion that helped both sides to work through it.

They don’t allow fear to stop them. One of my favorite churches to watch, hear about, and fellowship with is the church in Athens. It is the most diverse group of Christians I have ever seen. They hold multiple services, Bible studies, and events to spread God’s love to the many different people groups that gather there. As a matter of fact, last Sunday, the church in Athens baptized nine refugees traveling to build lives in Europe. While many fear all the unknown things that come with such a large group of people on the move, this church is taking advantage of joining God in meeting the people in some of their darkest moments. Keep in mind, this is a church that within itself has multiple nationalities. Aside from the many obvious differences they work together to bring others to Christ.

So what does this mean for us? What is our call to action?

Church unity begins with each one of us. When we decide to use our gifts to edify and develop the church, we are living as the body of Christ. When we forgive, have hard conversations, and pray blessing and success on one another, we are building up the church. Each one of us has the responsibility of ministering to one another and the world.

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A Road Map to Unity

Ephesians 4:1-16 gives us a road map on how we need to behave to grow in Christ and foster unity. Take some time today to read it and think about what role you have to play in your church.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gently; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  This is why it says:  “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”

(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)  So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Are there ways you bring about disunity?

What are your talents and how can you use them to build up the church?

ephesians-4_2

Love Gives Freely

Love Gives Freely

Tamika R

I was born in Denver, Colorado. I moved to OKC after quitting my jobs as a teacher and YouthIntern to pursue the call into ministry. I started as a non traditional student at Oklahoma where I met my husband. He was a non traditional student working on a 2nd degree after moving from Poland to pursue a degree in Ministry. We dreamed together of serving the Lord in Europe. Now we are blessed to be witness to the awesome way that God works all over the world. We live in Vienna, Austria with our3 kids. We work with Eastern European Mission. We provide Bibles and ethics materials in native languages of Eastern Europe. That means we get to seeGod's hand and providence all over Europe. I am Publishing Assistant at EEM and a fitness trainer. I fill my days caring for my family, teaching gym classes and designing book covers and working on details to provide quality materials to those who need God's word. In my free time I paint, cook, make jewelry and run 2 blogs.

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The Shunammite Woman

Do you remember the story of the Shunammite woman? You can find it in 2 Kings 4:8-41. It is a beautiful story full of selfless actions. She is a woman who had great means. She used what she had to bless the servant of the Lord without being asked.

God took notice and blessed her in kind.  Even when tragedy struck, she responded with grace. She was able to say, “It is well,” and walk forward with hope and trust. She knew who she was dealing with and behaved as one who had expectations that the LORD could do all she thought he could. Not only did she believe he could, everything she did was evidence that she believed he would.

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Last year while having breakfast with my dear friend Leslie, I heard of women in India who have this kind of faith.

Leslie is an amazing and inspiring woman whom I met about four years ago. We bonded by talking about creative projects. She lives in Ireland, but she and her husband minister all over the world so we cross paths often. My husband was there preaching about three weeks ago. He returned excited about the projects Leslie is involved in. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to hear about them myself.

She spends her free time trying to support women in India who could greatly benefit from very little. As she was talking to me about the things she does, I thought, why couldn’t I join her and we could help more women? I have decided not only will I join her, but I would like to invite other creative souls out there to join as well.

Curious?

Let me tell you what she is doing. The first project brings us back to the Shunammite woman. There are women in the Indian villages who need jobs. They are people who can and will work in a local craft. They want to start their own business in their craft, but they need start-up money. The organization is called SWAN and was named after the Shunammite woman. All of the women enrolled in the program have already committed to give 10% of their earnings to support the local preacher.  How much money is needed depends on the craft and the village.sweetcoupleinIndia

The second project is a more personal one. They have a rice project in the village of Pavara in Andhra Pradesh. They provide daily rice for about 150 widows and orphans. During this year’s trip, Leslie noticed an elderly couple and asked for their story. In their culture, the son would provide for them as well as his family in their old age, but their son is really poor and can barely care for his own kids and grandkids. So they collect wood and sell it. The husband chops and the woman pushes the wagon. For the past two years they have been unable to make this journey.

They should both be getting a pension, but for some reason the government is only paying him one. So they work. The pension they receive is 14 Euros ($14.87) a month. They can’t live on it. The amount of the pension for one year is 200 Euros. Leslie was able to sell crafts this past month to provide for her for this next year. I would like to raise 200 Euros ($212.36) to give her another year of pension.

Do You Have a Heart for Giving?

If you have a heart for giving and a passion for crafting, would you think of a way you could make and sell something to help these women? Women who are making so very little. Women who are willing to work hard to get the smallest amount of money to help their families and others.

I have set a goal this year to make 200 Euros to support this woman for the next year. Whatever I make beyond that I will give to the Shunammite Project in India. This will allow me to help women have the joy of creating, selling, and sharing to further the spread of the word of God in their villages. Everything made or collected for these women is 100% used for these purposes. It is all very well organized and professional. I will be painting, making beads, and felting.  You can do anything you love. If so, comment below and we will begin in January. Also, if you aren’t interested in making or selling something but would like to donate money, I know that would also be welcome.

Would you be willing to join me?

You can get involved by purchasing these great books written by Tony Coffey. He is Leslie’s husband. I read Once a Catholic before traveling to Europe on a mission trip for the first time. I recently created a cover for the Croatian translation of Answers to Questions Catholics are Asking.  He gives the proceeds from his books to the works and ministries in India as well.

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Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child

Elizabeth P

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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The Power of a Gift

Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is one of my favorite ministries and if you’ve never heard of it, I hope this becomes one you choose to support! They say it’s the “power of a simple gift” which opens the door to transforming lives, communities, and eventually nations. The third week of November is National Collection Week and most likely there is a drop off location near you. 

The folks at Operation Christmas Child make it so easy to be a part of overseas missions PLUS it is a fun thing to do with your kids during the holiday season. In each box goes a few small gifts or needed items, but what comes out is eternal. Think of every box as a soul, a child with whom the gospel will be shared.  Even better, OCC provides discipleship through local churches for follow up and supports these churches in a variety of ways so that they can best lead and impact their communities.

Building a box is easy, please do one this year… or five. You can even build a box online,  or track it so you know where it gets delivered!

Please take a minute to watch this video or click on the picture below to learn more about this exciting ministry.

Operation Christmas Child

 

A House Divided Cannot Stand

A House Divided Cannot Stand

Toni D

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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A House–and a Nation–Divided

In Oklahoma, where I live, we have a slogan: “A House Divided.”  This refers to families in which part of the family are University of Oklahoma (OU) fans and the other part of the family are Oklahoma State University (OSU) fans.  My family is one of those families.  We raised our children in an OU home, and our oldest child just started his sophomore year at OSU.  He is now an OSU convert, which has made for some interesting dinner conversation.

The Bible also speaks of a house divided.  “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”  (Mark 3:25 NASB)  Let’s back up to verse 24.  It states, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”  Right now, this is my concern and my fear.  Race, political affiliation, gender, religious affiliation, age–all of these and more divide our country.  This is not to place blame but to look at the issue of division.

a-house-divided

If we continue to allow labels to divide us as a nation, we cannot continue to exist.  Our country is in turmoil right now.  There are constant riots.  Ugliness surrounds the election and politics in general.  The wage gap between men and women is yet another point of contention.  Denominations bicker amongst themselves.  All these things have led to a division in our nation.  We are tearing our nation apart with all this.

Unity through Christ

I am not saying that we should compromise our principles.  We need to stand up for what is right, for what God tells us!  We must share the Good News of the Gospel.  The only way to have peace is through Christ.  As Christians, we must unite and take our country back.  Our nation needs a true revival of His people.  We must wake up!  We cannot sit idly by and wait for someone else to do it.  I am not talking politics here.  We must share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If all Christians would stand together, we could make a difference.

Perhaps University affiliation divides my household, but it is united on God.  My husband and I raised our children for God.  We taught them about Jesus and all three of them have a personal relationship with Christ.  That was our duty as their parents, to teach them.  It is our duty to share the gospel with others.  We like to push that off on the Church.   But it’s important to remember that WE ARE THE CHURCH!

Do you share your faith with others?

If not, what prevents you from sharing it?

A House Divided

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This Little Light: Letting Our Lights Shine

This Little Light: Letting Our Lights Shine

April E

April E

I grew up in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma Christian University. Right after earning my degree in Music Education I moved to Germany to do mission work for 5 years. During those 5 years, I married my husband and we eventually became parents to our spunky daughter! We settled back in Oklahoma and added an energetic son to our family! I am now a stay-at-home mom who is still very passionate about mission work, Germany, singing, family, and most of all, my relationship with God.
April E

I’m sure the song “This Little Light of Mine” is familiar to a lot of people.

For me, it was one of those VBS and Bible class songs that I don’t even remember learning. It was just something I always knew. It has a great lesson for us and our kids. Of course, when I was a child I didn’t necessarily completely understand its full message. It was fun to hold a finger up to represent a candle and move it around to show how we let it shine. We sang about not hiding it under a bushel, but putting it out in the open for everyone to see. We also sang about not letting Satan blow our light out. Sometimes we would even sing about where we would shine our light, all around the neighborhood or city.

Shining Light into the Inner City

Growing up attending church and being involved in a youth group, I had many opportunities to go on mission trips. Those experiences touched me in profound ways. On one particular mission trip to an inner city location, I was in in awe of the missionaries who dedicated their lives to serving that community. I was only there a week, but I knew it was not an easy task to live in an area with lots of crime, drugs, poverty, and many dark places that needed God’s light. I wondered how someone could possibly be strong enough to shine their light there on a daily basis.

Those missionaries weren’t aware that not only did their light shine for the community to see, it shone to me and the other teens on that mission trip. It wasn’t just the missionaries whose lights shone, but also the trip’s chaperones who showed love to the kids in this inner-city community.  

I’ve been so blessed to grow up among so many wonderful Christian adults who taught me not only what God’s Word says, but showed me through their actions. Obviously my parents are some of the biggest examples I learned from, but because they raised me in the church, I had the chance to be affected by so many other wonderful Christians.  Whether they were aware of it or not, their examples impacted me in ways that will affect me for my whole life.

An Interest in Mission Work

I guess it’s no surprise that during college I became so interested in mission work that I ended up moving to Germany and doing mission work there for five years after I graduated. Those five years were some of the most exciting, challenging, life-changing, and rewarding years of my life. God put a love of the country and the people I met there, as well as a passion to reach out and shine my light, in my heart. I will never be the same because of these experiences.

Mission Work and Kids

Even now that my family is living in the States again, we continue to have that passion and love for Germany and missions. We try to return as often as we can for short-term mission work. Now that my husband and I have two kids, it can be challenging to travel abroad and do these trips. Never, even for a second, have I considered not taking them with us.  People ask us if we will take the kids and I’m sure many have wondered why or how we do it with kids in tow. The answer is always, yes, the kids will absolutely go with us! Not only could I not fathom leaving them at home (even with family members) for the duration of our trip, but one of the best things about taking them with us is that they get to have these amazing experiences as young children.

They will grow up knowing that we go on these trips to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to others around the world! What better example is there for them to see God at work, than to take them with us and let them see it first hand? They always talk about our times in Germany with anticipation and wonderful memories. They love that we go, and maybe don’t always know all the reasons we are there, but hopefully when they get to an age that they fully understand, will see not only the “why” but the “how” of what shining our light means.

Shine Your Light Where You Are

Some of you may be thinking, “that’s great, but I can’t go to Germany or another foreign country with my family.” I know that this may not be for everyone, although I do encourage you to try to go on a mission trip at least once in your life. However, you don’t have to go to a foreign country to shine your light. There are so many ways you can shine your light, even in your very own neighborhood. There are so many opportunities around us. We just have to look for them. Find something you know you can help with, or maybe you will even find a passion for something you didn’t know you had. Perhaps you can donate your time to a clothing or food drive. Look for outreach opportunities or ways you can help in the community.

Involve your whole family in mission work. Ask your kids to think of some ways they can help others. Start out small by making some treats and delivering them to your neighbors. Let your kids see that serving others and letting your light shine is fun. They will start asking you to do it again! These will make the best memories for you and your family. Who knows, maybe this will start conversations with your neighbors or others in the community and lead to them asking more questions about who you are and why you serve the way you do.

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A Command to Serve

I’m not encouraging service just because it can be fun. It’s a command. 1 Peter 4:10-11 says:

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

This verse talks about using our gifts to serve. One of the main reasons I went to Germany to begin with was because some of my choir friends had told me about the trip and how you get to sing.  I thought it would be a great combination for me: mission work, which I had already enjoyed in the past, and singing, which was also a huge passion for me. Who knew one trip to Germany after my sophomore year at college would turn into a lifelong passion? You might be surprised if you try to get involved in some form of service using your talents, too! It could bring a lot of joy to your life.

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Bringing Glory to God

God also wants us to shine His light so that we can give glory to Him. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus says,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Let’s do everything we can to bring God glory! It may not always feel comfortable, but it is what God wants and what He calls us to do. One of my favorite verses is in Isaiah, when God commissions Isaiah to go speak to the people. Isaiah’s reaction is just how I want to be. Isaiah 6:8 says, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.” I pray that we can all be so eager to do what God has called us to do! Go and shine your light!

 

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