mission trips: common fears you may have & the truth you need to know
If you’ve been around here long enough, you know that I absolutely LOVE missions. I love traveling the world, being bold for the Gospel, giving glory to my King, and serving others. I love adventures birthed in love.
But you know what I love even more? I love seeing and equipping others to do missions and to build the kingdom.
I want every single person in the world to (1) know God and give their lives to Him and (2) experience the life-changing adventure of mission trips.
Which is why it breaks my heart to see people not go on mission trips.
So, in this post we’re going to uncover a few reasons why people don’t go on overseas mission trips, unravel those fears, and embrace the truth and facts.
1.) YOU don’t know if YOU feel called.
Can I tell you a secret?
You’re not always going to feel like doing ministry. You’re not always going to know exactly what to do. You’re not always going to get some awe-inspiring, flowers-sprouting-out-of-your-toes sign from God.
I know, I know. It came as a surprise to me, too.
But you know what? We have this really cool thing called the Bible that tells us exactly what to do, even if we’re not feelin it.
I GUARANTEE that you are called to missions, that you are called to go somewhere new and be bold for the Gospel, that you are called to love and serve people as best as you possibly can, that you are called to give your life for the glory of Christ.
Jesus calls and commands every single one of His followers to share the Gospel with those around them. Actually, I’ll take it one step further. Jesus calls and commands every single one of His followers to share the Gospel with not only those around them, but with people all over the world.
Here’s how I know:
"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'" (Mark 16:15 ESV)
"Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!" (Psalm 96:3 ESV)
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'” (Isaiah 52:7 ESV)
"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
"For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47 ESV)
You, my dear friend, are called to go to that place overseas that God is nudging you toward. You are called to share the Gospel and build His kingdom all over the world.
George Wilson said it like this: “Don’t wonder whether you have a call to go. Have you had a distinct call from Christ to stay at home?”
2.) you don’t want to go overseas because there are people here who don’t know God, either.
Okay, yes, there are people around you who don’t know God. And YES, you need to boldly share the Gospel with them.
But are you?
Are you really doing something about it, or are you just using it as an excuse to not go on a mission trip?
I know, I know, it’s a little blunt. But I like to ask the real questions, and I hope you do, too.
I want you to live for God completely, at home, at your workplace, at your school, in your community, and all over the world.
If you are not currently doing ministry and giving everything for the sake of the Gospel, can I ask: what are you doing?
You NEED to be ministering to people, preaching, teaching, loving, serving, and sharing the love of Christ to ALL people.
If you’re not doing that at home, you have three options:
Disobey God, get caught up in the world around you, and don’t build His kingdom.
Make it your mission and your life’s purpose (because it is your life’s purpose) to minister to the people around you at home.
Go on a mission trip, experience God’s power and love in a new way, minister to people there, impact the kingdom there, and then come home revived and fueled to bring the Gospel to those around you.
Yes, there are people at home who need Jesus. But there are also people all over the world who need Jesus, too, and who aren’t exposed to our “Christianese” culture. People all over the world have never heard of Jesus, have never heard the Gospel, and have no means of ever hearing it unless someone steps out in faith and goes there to tell them.
That person could be you.
3.) you “don’t have time” for mission trips.
This is a big one. And one that needs to be addressed.
Okay, so maybe you can’t carve out two weeks of your time to travel the world on a mission trip.
But you CAN carve out time for a two day, three day, maybe even week-long trip.
It’s all about priorities, friend.
What can you do? Do that.
The simple truth is, you make time for the things that matter to you. If missions matter to you enough, you will find some way to do it.
4.) you have responsibilities here that keep you from doing something so “illogical and reckless.”
*climbs on to a pedestal calmly*
Is it illogical to invest in the kingdom of God? Is it illogical to love people? Is it reckless to go into a dangerous place for the sake of the Gospel? Is it reckless to give your life to please your King? Is it against everything the world teaches you? Does it defy common sense? Is it so far off the wall that it’s terrifying and crazy? Maybe.
But is it worth it? Absolutely.
To me, it’s illogical to follow what the world tells you is logical and fail to follow the logic of Heaven. It is reckless to waste your time on this earth and live in regret for eternity in Heaven. It is reckless and illogical to not do missions, to not give your life to please your King and spread His love throughout the world.
One day we’ll stand before Jesus (the guy who basically invented being illogical and reckless) and have to explain to Him why X amount of people aren’t in Heaven because we played it too safe. I’m just sayin.
5.) you’re afraid of dangerous people and dangerous situations.
Your community is just as dangerous as most places overseas. Sure, there’s a bit more risk if you don’t know the language or the culture, but most people are pretty safe when they follow common sense: stay in a group, don’t go into fishy areas, and be vigilant.
And, honestly, God will provide.
He will keep you safe, OR He will do something better and put you in dangerous situations so you can build His kingdom.
Don’t be afraid of what people can do to you; be afraid of disobeying God.
I was reading God’s Smuggler (highly recommend!) and in it, he says that we are God’s royal servants. There is no need for us to cower, to fear, or to stoop because the King of kings fights for us.
6.) you think you’re too young (or too old).
King David was a teenager when he took down Goliath. Jeremiah was a teenager when he became a prophet. Esther was fourteen years old, and God used her to save the Jewish people. Mary was a teenager, and she was the mother of Jesus.
DO NOT DISCREDIT YOURSELF BECAUSE OF YOUR AGE (or your weaknesses, for that matter) because God uses everyone to build His kingdom.
If you feel like you’re too young or old to be used by God, think again. God is bigger than your age, bigger than your insecurities, bigger than your fears, and bigger than your weaknesses.
Do not dishonor His name by saying that He can’t use you.
God likes to use those who the world would never use. If you feel called to do missions, DO IT. Talk to your parents or whoever you need to talk to, and God will make a way if He has called you.
God WILL use you if you are WILLING to follow Him.
7.) you don’t think you could ever make a difference.
You’re absolutely right. You can’t make a difference.
But God certainly can.
If you’re willing and obedient, I promise that He will work in you and through you, and He will make a difference in the world.
Pretty much everyone in the Bible thought that they could never make a difference, either, and then you know what happened? God made a difference through them.
Plus, it doesn’t really matter if you make a difference or not. The point is that if God calls you to go, you NEED to obey, because it will make a difference in you.
8.) That’s waaaaaaaaaay out of your comfort zone.
Girl, I totally get that. Stepping into a new culture, doing weird things that you wouldn’t normally do, and being thrown into a new way of life is SCARY.
Nobody is judging you for being scared of being uncomfortable, least of all me. I was very nervous to go to Peru for the first time for a number of reasons.
I’m introverted, for starters, and having to talk to strangers and be around my team all the time made me super uncomfortable. Not to mention, I was stepping into a country where pretty much nobody spoke my language. Throw in having to do other things that I hate doing (sleeping in front of others, rooming with people, having to share a bathroom, having to pee in a bucket because there are places with no running water, having to eat funky foods, etc.) and you had the perfect recipe for a-n-x-i-e-t-y. For reals.
I was so scared about all of these things. But you know what? I started praying about it, confessing my nervousness to God, and I chose to go anyway. And it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
You see, the reality was that I was afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone and finding myself too weak to thrive. But God takes advantage of our weaknesses to show His strength.
The girl who was afraid of talking to people spoke in front of over a hundred people and made a complete fool of herself (gladly!), boldly peed in a bucket with sawdust in it, and slept on a plane next to a creepy, smelly guy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way (except perhaps sleeping next to Mr. Creeper).
God doesn’t want you to be comfortable; He wants to stretch your faith and push you out of your comfort zone because that is where you see His power and that’s where you find out what you’re made of.
However, I understand that some things are just a little too much. Totally get that. In that case, there are plenty of other options. Find something in which you can use your skills, because God gave you those skills to be used for His glory.
If you’re afraid of talking, go on a trip that’s mostly for building something helpful for the community.
If you suck at building, go on a trip where you can evangelize.
If peeing in a bucket is just a tad too roughing-it for you, go somewhere with running water.
If you like to teach, go teach English.
If you like to heal people, go on medical mission trips.
If you just want to love on some kiddos, go volunteer at an orphanage.
Just go. Go, obey, fulfill the Great Commission, and use your gifts (and even your weaknesses) for His glory.
Whatever your skills are, they can be used to build the kingdom.
9.) you can’t see how you could afford going overseas.
If God has called you, He WILL provide the money and the resources to go. You don’t have to worry about that.
If you think about it, not being able to afford to go on a mission trip is often an excuse to not even try. If we’re honest, we can afford it if we choose to live just a little more frugally.
A Starbucks coffee averages around $3. If you choose to not get a Starbucks coffee for a month and put that money towards your mission trip, you would have $60 ready to go.
Having Ramen noodles or a PB&J a couple times a week instead of going out would probably save you at least $10.
You might take a couple more shifts or clock out just an hour later.
It’s all about priorities. If you prioritize missions, you will find a way to pay for it. And if you can’t pay for all of it, God will provide the rest.
Plus, you don’t have to pay for it all by yourself; that’s what fundraising is for.
You would be surprised how many people want to help you and support you. My first mission trip to Peru, the cost was $2000. All I did was send out support letters (no other fundraising) and God moved in people’s hearts through those letters to give me $1600.
Add in different fundraisers, such as yard sale, bake sale, selling t-shirts, car wash, etc., and you’ve got it made.
Again, it’s all about how much you care about it. If God has called you, He will provide.
10.) Stepping into another culture is scary.
Yes, it is. But you know what’s even scarier?
Living with the fact that that girl will never know the love of Christ because you were too afraid to step out of your comfort zone and go tell her.
Or even scarier than that, standing before God on Judgement Day and having to tell Him why His daughter isn’t in Heaven because you decided to stay in your comfort zone.
I’m not trying to guilt-trip you; I’m just trying to make you see things in light of eternity, for Paul says that we should “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)
Your discomfort is temporary, but that girl’s heart? That’s eternal, friend.
Plus, there are MANY resources to look through if you need help stepping into another culture. Research the country a bit, talk to people who have been there before, search the country up on social media to see what it’s like, and most importantly, pray about it.
Here are some resources to learn about different cultures:
Believe it or not, people are people. Just because they do things differently doesn’t make them different.
I went to Peru for the first time a couple years ago, and I was really scared about the culture shock. But once I got there, it really wasn’t too bad. They do things differently, they speak a different language, they think differently. But on the inside, they’re just people doing people things, like you and me.
Don’t let the fear of another culture stop you; embrace the beauty of seeing how other people live, and learn from it.
11.) you’re afraid of what your family and friends will say.
Your family will not be the ones standing before God and having to answer why you didn’t do what He asked you to do.
Sure, they’ll stand before God about their own lives, but not yours.
This is your life, your eternity, your crown in Heaven, and you have no right to let someone else dictate it for you or keep you from doing what God has called you to do.
12.) you don’t know how to find an organization, where to go, how to plan, etc.
Welp, I’ve done some of the legwork for you.
The first step is to pray about it. Pray fervently, asking God if He wants you to go on a mission trip, where to go, who to go with, and what to do. Then, surrender to Him and allow Him to have His way in you and through you.
First, start looking at local churches (who believe the same as you do!). Odds are, someone will be going on a mission trip. If you don’t feel called to go with one of those churches, here’s some sites with more options:
I’m not telling you to go on a mission trip, although I really really really REALLY want you to; I’m simply asking you to think about why you’re not, talk to God about it, and be willing to do whatever He asks of you.
I’m telling you to obey God and go wherever He calls you, even if it’s a little scary. (This post details what to do when you’re afraid of going on a mission trip and why you NEED to anyway!)