Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Planning for a Long-Term Missions Trip: Taking Care of the Homefront

by Denise Oliveri |

Long-Term Missions, Missions Emotional Issues, Planning to Go

chessA lot of work and preparation goes into planning a long-term missionary trip. You will certainly need more than a few days of clothes and your visa as you prepare to leave for months, or even years. When you sign up to go on a long-term mission your agency or church will help you prepare. It is important that you follow these instructions so that you are not left out in an unknown country unprepared for what may come. The following are some other considerations to make as you place to leave for a long-term missionary trip.

Taking care of things at home:

One of the hardest things you will have to do is to decide how you will care for things at home. The best way to leave on a mission long-term is to have few things left to worry about at home. You will want a clean break so that you can focus on your purpose. If you own a home, you will need to decide whether you will sell your home, or rent or lease it while you are away. If you decide to rent, you will have to put someone you trust in charge of the property.

lookingBills are something else you will have to consider. If you have debt, it is a good idea to work to pay off that debt before you leave. However, you can also ask a trusted friend or family member to take care of your bills while you are away. The best way to handle this is to have a checking account that has enough money in it to cover your bills for several months.

If you are taking the whole family, then you will need to carefully research homeschooling for your children and prepare your children for this life as well. Kids can be adaptable, but you will need to help them along the way. If you are leaving your family behind, you need to make sure they are emotionally prepared for your long-term absence.

Preparing to leave:

There are other essential parts of packing up and leaving the country that you will need to consider. First of all, make sure that you have all of your necessary documents and paperwork for traveling. That means having your visa updated and ready to go. It is also a good idea to have copies of important documents such as your social security card, birth certificate, and other papers in a lock box. Make sure that someone in your family can take care of this in case it is needed.

goodbyeImmunizations are also very important as you embark on a long-term mission trip. Talk to your doctor about what you need to stay healthy, and make sure that everyone in your family gets the proper medical care before leaving. Most physicians know what types of immunizations you will need for different parts of the world. You will also want to think about medical care while you are away. Will you have access to a clinic or hospital? Will you be able to secure your prescriptions? Consider this and make plans accordingly.

Packing and planning for your trip:

It will be important that you take the right things when you leave. Learn all you can about where you are traveling and pack for the climate. You want to avoid taking unnecessary items, but you also want to make sure you have the items you need. If you are stationed in a remote area, going to the local department store to pick up a winter coat won’t be an option.

You will also want to become familiar with the language and customs. This is very important to the success of your mission. Take some time before you go and familiarize yourself with these factors. Learn the basics of the language and be prepared to learn even more when you arrive.

Chess photo by Mariano Kamp
Goodbye photo by  The Udall Legacy Bus…
Thinking photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

Fundraiser Ideas for Missions

by Denise Oliveri |

missions Fundraising, Uncategorized

piggy bankTaking a mission trip, whether you are leaving for a few weeks, or a few months takes more than advanced planning. It takes money, too. If you don’t have the right funding, your mission will be short-lived. Thankfully, most churches, friends and family members are usually happy to help pitch in. There are many fundraisers that can help the much-needed funds for any type of mission. Here are some ideas.

Letter writing campaign:

A letter writing campaign is simple enough. It involves sending out a well-written letter to as many people as you know. This includes church members, families and friends, or local businesses. You can expect to raise anywhere from $2000-3000 in a well planned letter. Make sure you send a stamped return envelope and send everyone who sends in money a thank you card.

Get the church involved:

Most churches are happy to help missionaries raise the funds needed for a mission trip. The church can help by giving their endorsement or sharing the idea with the congregation. Many times, churches that want to raise a large amount of money for a mission will “pass the plate” for that specific reason. You might also consider having a meeting about the trip so the congregation can understand the reason why you are going and what needs you may have. Make sure that your upcoming trip is mentioned in the church bulletin or newsletter each week.

Have fundraisers within the church:

Many families preparing to leave on a mission, will organize fundraisers within the church. This is a great idea, and most church members are more than happy to pitch in to help. You could hold a coffee and bake sale before or after church services, a large car wash, or even sell pre-made dinners that the congregation has donated. You may even consider holding a carnival-type event so the children can participate, or a penny drive, which usually turns out very successful.

Fundraisers in the community:

There are also ways that you can get the community involved in your fundraising efforts. Many restaurants and fast food places have fundraising nights where the percentage of the proceeds for a particular time is given to a charity. Call around to see if this is an option for you. Garage sales can also earn big bucks and if you are going on a long missions trip, it might be a great idea to clear out the unwanted items in your home. How about selling high ticket items on eBay or signing up for GoodSearch? There really are many ways that you can band together with others to help earn money for your mission.

Think about your fundraising ideas and plan carefully to implement them. In no time, you will have enough money for your trip.

Photo by annia316

The Great Commission Music Video

by Melissa Chang |

Facts and Stats, Missions Emotional Issues, Planning to Go

This is a GREAT short video montage of quotes about missions set to music. Feel free to use this anywhere… enjoy!

Local Mission Opportunities

by admin |

Local Church

habitat for humanityWhen we hear the words “Mission trip”, we tend to think of flying to the nether parts of the world where there are physical hardships and language barriers. We may forget the abundance of opportunities in our own communities. In fact, reaching out to the people in our own backyard has definite advantages. We don’t have the expense that comes with traveling to other countries, seldom is there a language barrier, and the likelihood of ongoing relationships is greater.

In fact, local mission work is far less limiting than foreign mission work. It costs far less and because we are closer in proximity, we are much more available and can more readily become involved in all areas of the work, whether it is to evangelize, serve, or form relationships.

So what are some of these opportunities? Let’s take a look at some evangelism opportunities first:

• Prison ministry
• Youth juvenile justice
• Drug rehabilitation centers
• Homeless shelters
• Nursing homes
• Hospice
• Backyard Bible studies

The first six opportunities above require planning and also permission from the agencies themselves. Most of the residents of these first four are not allowed to leave at will, so you must go to them. You can have worship services, bible studies, craft activities, etc. right on site.

food bankBackyard Bible studies can be done in your own neighborhood or in the heart of a disadvantaged neighborhood. If working in a neighborhood you are not familiar with, try contacting a church in that neighborhood and combining efforts with them. I heard of a church in Tennessee that went across town to work in an area of poverty and got the complete mission trip “experience” by sleeping, eating, and worshipping, in the church they had partnered with. It was for them a time of focusing on the Lord and bonding with Christians from a different walk in life.
Service opportunities are easy to find; so many people have physical needs.

• Soup kitchens
• Habitat for Humanity
• Home repair for the elderly
• Special constructions for those that are physically or mentally disabled
• Christmas presents for kids in boys or girls homes
• Christmas presents for poorer homes
• Christmas presents for those in foster care
• Disaster relief
• Help for minorities and immigrants planting churches
• Food for those that are housebound

These are only a few. For more information about these opportunities, contact Habitat for Humanity, Angel Tree, or your local Department of Children and Family Services.

volunteerYou may have heard it said, “People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” Each opportunity listed above requires a physical effort, but more importantly we have a chance to let people get to know Christ through us. Sometimes it means visiting just to listen. We all have a desire to be significant. God can use us to show those considered “the least of these” that they matter to Him and to us.

Recently, my church threw a fancy catered dinner for the women from the homeless shelters, abuse shelters, and rehab centers. There was music, testimony, worship, smiles, and laughter. The men served the food, and the women were blown away. In the end, many professed faith in Christ and there was much prayer and weeping for what had been lost. One said it was a magical night.

The mission field is all around us. We have only to look next door.

Habitat photo by tukanuk
Food Bank van photo by wschwabe35
Volunteer photo by  FirstBaptistNashville

Iraq: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by admin |

Iraq, Iraq, Middle East

Baghdad?
Photo by Army.mil

FACTS & STATS

Iraq MapLocation: Iraq is located in the Middle East and has borders with Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and the Gulf of Oman.

Capital: Baghdad 

Climate: Very hot, dry summers and cool winters that gets colder in the northern regions. The northern regions experience snow in winter that melts and causes flood in spring.

Population: As of July 2008 the population was 28,221,180.

Iraqi ManEconomy: The Iraqi economy is driven by its enormous oil reserves and petroleum based industries which accounted for about 95% of its earnings. Chemicals, textiles, agriculture, leather, construction infrastructure, fertilizer, and metal processing used to be other important contributors to the economy. War has considerably changed the economic landscape of the country. An unemployment rate of up to 30% was recorded in 2006.

Ethnic Make-up: Arab 80%, Kurds 15%, Others 5%.

Religions: Muslim 97% (Shia Muslims 65%, Sunni Muslims 35%), Christians and Others 3%.

Language: Arabic, Kurdish, Turkoman, Assyrian, Armenian.

Government: Republic.

Iraqi Children
Photo by Army.mil

Travel Issues: Presently being in a state of war and extreme conflict most countries deter their citizens from travelling to Iraq. While visas for religious visits are not being granted, that for tourism is granted under specific circumstances. Those intending to visit Iraq need to contact their embassies in order to get the latest information and travel restrictions. In normal situations travel to Iraq requires a valid passport, Iraqi visa, and a return ticket.

Iraqi WomenHealth & Safety: Travel to Iraq mandates the need for immunisation against Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, and Typhoid. Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, Malaria and Rabies vaccinations are sometimes recommended. Yellow fever shots are required from travellers coming from affected areas. Specific information relating to current guidelines should be had from embassies closer to date of travel.

Water and milk should be boiled before consumption. Tap water is not recommended even for daily ablutions, making ice, or any other personal use. It is safer to peel fruits and vegetables after washing thoroughly. The medical system is not as efficient as it used to be and it is safer to carry personal medication with you. Hospitals are often overcrowded and doctors stretched to the limit. Payment for medical services is expected in cash.

SOCIETY & CULTURE

Baghdad Father
Photo by Army.mil

The People: The history of Iraq has been plagued with conflicts which has caused general perception to be somewhat distorted when it comes to its amazing culture. Dating back to the Mesopotamian civilization is a cultural background which still dictates terms when it comes to society, customs, and beliefs. While that being so, pre-war Iraq was a modern society enjoying the benefits of education, world-class medical and scientific fraternity, infrastructure, and telecommunications. The ongoing war has however set the country back to devastating levels that experts fear may leave lasting scars.

Iraq PalaceThe Religion: Islam is the major religion of Iraq followed by about 97% of the population. A 3% minority adhere to Christianity, Judaism, and other religions.

Role of Family: Close affiliation with extended family is a hallmark of Iraqi society. Families of up to three generations, if not more, come under one unit and live together in traditional societies. In the urban scenario nuclear families live separate from the extended unit but are never independent of them when it comes to major decision-making and celebrations.

colorful girl by klika100Older family members are always deferred to and shown a great deal of respect when it comes to opinions and status. Strong values of loyalty and obedience are inculcated in children at a very early age. Businesses and occupations are handed down and taken care of by the male members of a family. Property and wealth is owned by family rather than an individual. Male kinsmen are very protective of the honour of women.

Ancestors: Lineage in families is traced way back to ancestors dead and alive. It is a very important feature in Iraqi society to know your roots and have an identity. Values and culture are handed down as a matter of routine from ancestors and there is very little change in attitude in spite of modern lifestyles.

fish cookingRecreational Activities: Football was played with a passion in pre-war Iraq and was the most popular national pastime. Camel racing, desert safaris, and other ethnic sport forms used to enjoy a lot of popularity.

Anything else important for this culture: The Iraqi lifestyle is strictly governed by Islamic laws in all walks of life from clothing to general social etiquette. Any discrepancies may entail serious consequences. Visitors need to be fully conversant with local behaviour and norms in order to avoid any unpleasant outcomes.

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

Baghdad Highway
Photo by jim.greenhill

Meetings & Greetings: There is a certain element of formality involved in meetings. You are expected to stick to formal courtesies. Men exchange handshakes and business cards printed in both English and Arabic. Arabs greet each other by embracing and kissing on both cheeks. There is a lot of general conversation even in business meetings in order to judge character and personality of people involved.

Women are rarely to be found in business and any greeting would have to be initiated by them. Outside of business it is normal for women to remain out of the spotlight and you are not expected to enquire or refer to them directly.

2 boys in IraqCourtesy: You are expected to address people by their family names and show respect especially when addressing seniors. Wait till you’re introduced properly before starting a conversation. You do not go directly to the business at hand but rather make small talk about affairs in general.

Gift Giving: If invited into a home, it is customary to arrive with a token gift. Chocolates, well-packaged fruits, nuts, and snacks are recommended gifts for families. Do not offer wine or any form of alcohol as gifts. If you are presented with a gift do not open it in front of your guests.

Shop in IraqDress Code: Formal occasions and business meetings will find men suited up and well-groomed. Hot summers may allow the exclusion of suits but formality needs to be observed by keeping sleeves down and shirts buttoned up. Informal situations do not require such austerities for men, however, women need to keep their shoulders, arms, knees, and legs covered regardless of occasion. Women would also do well to wear a head scarf in keeping with the dress code for local women. Make-up should be low key or minimal in order to do away with unwanted attention.

Iraqi FamilyDining Etiquette: When invited to dinner it is customary to bring a gift. Traditionally meals are often taken seated on the floor. But these days you are more likely to be seated at a table with all modern cutlery and utensils at hand.

Visiting a home: Wait till you’re shown to your seat and invited to be seated. Even if you are on friendly terms it is better to be not over-friendly and too casual, which means you do not place feet on coffee table. Always maintain decorum and this will earn you a lot of respect.

Communication Style: Seniors initiate conversation and others are expected to wait their turn and offer precise answers. Interruptions, jocularity, and raised voices are a mark of disrespect when talking to people who outrank you in age, status, and social ranking. You do not hold direct conversations with women under ordinary circumstances. Foreign women may address men directly but it is advisable to maintain the right body language, avoid direct eye contact, loud laughter, and proper use of a head scarf.

Palm Grove
Photo by Army.mil

Dos and Don’ts: Muslims have a lot of dos and don’ts that guide their lifestyles. It is a great idea to adopt these styles when in their country. While foreigners are not expected to follow these maxims it will increase their respect for you if you do so. Once you’ve earned their trust and respect life becomes a lot easier and relaxed.

Utmost importance needs to be given to their prayer times especially on Fridays. Avoid drinking, smoking and other frivolities during these times. Muslims go on rigorous fasts during the holy month of Ramadan. It would be insensitive on the part of non-Muslims to make merry during these days in their society.

Single women travelling alone invite trouble even during more peaceful times. There are extremely fundamentalist pockets where women should take extreme care to keep out of trouble. It would be a good move to take advice from locals before venturing into these spaces.

Map by ImageEditor
Column photo by markwgallagher
Shop and Colorful Girl photos by Klika100
Fish cooking photo by basrawii
Man, family, father, women, and boys photos by Army.mil

Keeping Yourself Safe from Exotic Diseases with Vaccines

by admin |

Planning to Go, Travel Health & Safety

colored syringes
Photo by ad-vantage

When your mission across the border is finished, it’s nice to come home with stories and a new sense of faith and purpose, not to mention a certain pride for being a part of something so meaningful. It wouldn’t be so nice to come home with a horrible and potentially lethal but preventable disease. Our immune systems and routine vaccination programs are developed to deal with domestic diseases.  When traveling internationally, additional vaccinations are an essential weapon for exotic disease prevention.

Before we get into those additional vaccinations it is important to be up to date with our routine vaccinations.  Just because we have those horrible childhood memories of being mutilated by those mean nurses with their big needles doesn’t necessarily mean we are up to date with our shots.  The recommended vaccines for any given person depend on multiple factors such as age, health status, and medical history. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has a questionnaire on their website to determine what routine vaccines a person should have. However, this questionnaire concerns routine vaccinations. International travel requires additional vaccinations. 

The CDC recommends a visit to a doctor for vaccinations 4 – 6 weeks before departure. This is because it takes time for our bodies to develop immunity given by the vaccinations.  Also, some vaccines must be given in a series over days or weeks. The Hepatitis B vaccine is given in a series of 3 shots, the second shot is given one month after the first, and the third is given 6 months after the second.

Yellow Fever Immunization RecordThe only required vaccination for international travel is yellow fever when traveling to certain countries in tropical South America and sub-Saharan Africa. To satisfy this requirement, the yellow fever vaccine must be taken by an authorized clinic. The CDC has a search tool for finding such a clinic on its website. 

The type of vaccine that you should get depends on your destination. (The CDC has a website tool for this too on the destinations page.) For example, when traveling to Columbia, travelers are recommended to have the Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, and Rabies vaccines which are in addition to their recommended routine vaccination schedule.  The only vaccine included in this Colombian travelers list that shows up in a routine vaccination schedule is the Hepatitis B vaccine for certain individuals. 

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about a number of horrible diseases at home like Yellow Fever or Typhoid.  Abroad, it’s a different story. It is imperative to educate yourself of the potential health threats of a given destination as well as measures available to prevent infection. Good old washing of the hands and bathing are the first line of defense to prevent infections; vaccinations are the next line of defense. Overall, educating yourself will help keep your healthy.

Photo by davebushe

After the trip…

by admin |

After the Trip, Missions Emotional Issues

Blue FlameShort-term mission trips can be likened to a retreat in some respects. We leave our everyday problems back home (hopefully you didn’t pack them, too) and our focus is on God and His purposes. Our responsibilities are light and we are on a spiritual high, so to speak. Hopefully, the experience has left us forever changed; we have a different worldview.

Upon returning home, people may react differently. For some, it may have the effect of a fun vacation that is forgotten in a couple of weeks as they reenter normalcy. They have to work to keep the flame alive after the mission trip is over. But for others, it is never forgotten and they struggle with the emotional impact of it all. It’s like they are walking around so full of the Holy Spirit they could just burst if they don’t let some of it out, but no one understands or cares to listen to them gush over their experience. It is very deflating to realize that the world didn’t stop while we were on our mission trip. It may be difficult for a while to concentrate on our daily duties. We may even feel depressed. So, how do we prepare for it?

Bend an ear
Before you leave for your trip, ask your prayer partners to agree to let you gush your stories to them. Show them your pictures and souvenirs. Assign it as part of their commitment. It may be advisable to set a span of time. You may have a lot to say!

Plan a team party
Have the team meet for a time of sharing pictures and stories. Recall impactful things. Each person can share how God changed them on this trip. Discuss future plans. Recall the names of the people they met. Pray for them by name.

Present to your church body
Prepare a PowerPoint presentation and have team members share some of their experiences. Have team members give testimony of their experience. This helps those that helped finance the trip “see” that God used them to make a difference, too. Set up tables displaying pictures and memorabilia. Be creative.

God wants you to tell what He has shown you. Keep that fire burning inside you and give it to others. You may just start an unstoppable wildfire.

Flame photo by athenius22

Spiritual Preparedness: During the Trip

by admin |

Spiritual Issues

Luggage During the trip…

You and your luggage have arrived safely to your destination. Maybe you are feeling a little woozy from an eight hour plane ride, but you breathe in deeply foreign air and you know that you have arrived. You are confident that God has sent you to this place.

You even had the opportunity to share your testimony and the gospel with a curious seatmate on the plane. “Where are you all going and what are you going to do there?” the gentleman inquired. One thing led to another and before you knew it the gospel of Jesus Christ was pouring out of you. It’s a very good thing you were spiritually prepared for that opportunity.

So, how do you stay spiritually prepared amid all the distractions of unfamiliar surroundings and culture? Some of it will come naturally. It is amazing how loudly we call to God when we are way out of our comfort zone and out on a limb.

But, we must also actively pursue spiritual preparedness while on mission. Mission work is physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting. We need to take actions to fill up with the Holy Spirit and keep our eyes on Jesus.

Team time

Every morning and every evening take time to come together as a team for prayer, devotions, and worship. Hopefully someone packed a guitar! Team members can take turns presenting a brief devotional. The morning is like a sort of pep rally to get the team jazzed up and ready to take the world for Jesus.

Save the evening for a wind down. Team members can share something that pricked their hearts. Discuss where and how you saw God working. Was He working in you or through you to touch someone else? Don’t forget to praise, worship, and adore Him for all He is doing.

Letters from home

Assign church members to write letters of encouragement for each team member. Give the members a calendar of events for each day, so they can pray specifically for the events of the day. Have mail call after morning devotionals to distribute the letters.

Read a letter of encouragement written for the team from church members back home. Do this every day. This is a simple thing to do and is incredibly encouraging.

Prayer walk

Walk through the neighborhoods and worksites (in small groups, never alone) praying for the people as you go. Notice the people and their situations and intercede for them to the Lord. Use this time to hand out flyers and invitations to Bible School or other activities you have planned.

Hopefully, during the trip, you have begun to see people as God sees them. Speak to God often in little breath prayers. And always remember that you are representing Christ. He is the source of your spiritual preparedness.

Photo by geishaboy500

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