"Kids Who Should've Stayed Home"

Youthworker May/June 2001

Mission trips often spark life changes. Most mission participants will return home with a different perspective on life, ministry, and compassion, but some will have a difficult time dealingwith all they experience.

Janet is in India working in one of Mother Theresa's relief houses. The team is sitting at a table resting and she says, "I am so hot. I'm miserable.  I can't wait to get home." She says this with lepers eight feet away.

Daren is in Haiti in a missions compound eating an authentic Haitian meal consisting of goat, rice, beans and plantains.  He say's "This tastes horrible. I'm not going to eat it." The youth pastor tells him, "Turn your head to the left. See those boys hanging on the fence, 90 feet away?  How long has it been since they last ate?  You're right, it doesn't taste great. Shut up and eat."

Donna, an adult leader, has been with the mission team in a Mexico City orphanage for mentally and physically handicapped children.  After playing with them and loving on them for almost three hours everyone in the bus was quiet as they reflect on what they have just experienced.  Upon arriving at the hotel, Donna asks,  "Can I get a taxi and take my daughter to a mall?"

Sharon, a textbook student leader, is in Mexico building a home with her group when she snaps in the 105-degree heat. She turns to her youth pastor and screams,  'I hate you! I hate you! I can't believe you brought us here!" and walks away.  She admits her mistake two days later.

Anne goes on the inner-city mission trip because the youth pastor needed one more adult to go and she thinks it'll be fun.  On the third day of the trip she tells the youth pastor that she has a gun in her purse.  He laughs, she doesn't.  "We're not in a safe area and you never know what might happen", she says.  He talks her into giving him the bullets but she keeps the gun.

How To Prepare Your Team

Before the Mission trip: Do your best to prepepare people for the trip. That way those who are not ready to accept what lies ahead can stay home. Use a mission trip application, require a written testimony, require a certain number of local outreach/service events, give them accurate expectations of what the trip involves and pray for the team.

During the Mission Trip: Talk one on one with the individual about the problem as soon as possible.  Review the reasons behind the trip and pray with them for perspective.

After the Mission Trip: Meet, reflect, and evaluate with team members individually about the trip.  Encourage the people who had a hard time as much as you can,  but be honest. There are different types of soil that receive God's word and there are different types of soils that go on mission trips.  Deal with them in grace, pray for them and don't return the bullets.