Category Archives: Short-term Missions

8 Over Exaggerated Short-termers

Missions is an exciting places to be serving. Christians have taken missions trips all over the world. Not only that, but there are always certain people on the trips who make them “interesting.” If you have taken a short-term missions trip before see if you recognize any of these over exaggerated short-termers:

Over-Saved-Sammy: This guy is so excited to be going on a missions trip. Everything on the trip is a blessing. You know the guy in church who says “amen” in all the wrong places. Everything from a flat tire to luggage being lost, he finds a blessing in it all.

Over-Spiritual-Stacy: This lady has her nose high in the air thinking her spiritual status is way above the rest on the group. She is the one that from beginning to end is giving out all the spiritual jukes.

Over-Sized-Stan: Also know as too-tall. You most definitely are going to have problems with him fitting into third-world taxi cabs, but he will be a great asset for your basketball outreach.

Over-Weight-Will: This guy causes all the locals to stop and stare as they wonder how a person can be so BIG! No only that, but the small portions of rice and traditional food will not do, he must find the nearest McDonald’s at all cost.

Over-Serious-Stanford: He doesn’t leave room for fun and play. Everything is work. He didn’t go on this trip to see a bunch of tourist attractions, but he does plan on learning the language, starting a church, and evangelizing the country in a week.

Over-Safe-Stephanie: She has studied up on the country and has taken all the necessary precautions. She doesn’t drink the local water, doesn’t eat food that could have been made with the local water and fills her suitcase with bottled water from the USA.

Over-Silent-Sally: She is the silent one. You aren’t really sure if she is having the time of her life or if she is can’t wait to return home. You try to make awkward conversation, but she doesn’t make a peep. You abandon all communication efforts designating her as the group’s prayer warrior.

Over-Nervous-Nelly: He is nervous about the trip knowing that something will and must go wrong. He doubts the leader’s decision making skills. But because of his earlier years in the boy-scouts and watching Survivor, he is prepared for the worst.

These over exaggerated short-termers always make any short-term missions trip more interesting! Enjoy your trips this summer!

Gospel on the Move – A VisionTour Update

Tuesday was a great day on the VisionTour. We went to an area of the city that we refer to as the slums (I wrote about it before, read it here). We brought a bunch of water guns to give out to the kids as a small gift to brighten their day and hopefully draw a crowd and play some games. After we passed out the water guns, we asked if anyone could allow us to use their water to fill up the water guns but they informed us that they didn’t have any water (that was a shocker). We had to go to a nearby restaurant who let us use their water to fill up the water guns. The kids really enjoyed them and we play for a long time with them. After the games, the Chinese pastor who leads the Children’s activities gathered everyone around and preached the Gospel to them. While this was happening some from the VisionTour team stayed and helped with the kids while others walked around the area, going to different houses to give out Gospel tracts. Before we left, they gave out some more things that we brought like snacks, toys and clothes.

In the afternoon, we went door-to-door hanging flyers and Gospel tracts on the apartment doors, climbing several flights of stairs! (Side note: this was the first time that I saw another tract already on someone’s door when we got there that was left by a cult.)

In the evening, we started the last night of our 2 day VBS. It wasn’t raining so we started the activities outside in the public square. We were able to draw a much bigger crowd this way and we had about 30 kids participate. After playing several games outside, we brought the kids inside where they were taught a couple songs, the Gospel was preach, and they were taught how to pray. After that, some had snacks, did crafts and then back outside for the final game of the night. Everyone was told about church on Sunday, so pray that we will have a good turn of kids that will come.

From morning to evening the Gospel was on the move! Praise the Lord for His boldness and protection!

Church, Buddhist, Dragon & VBS – A VisionTour Update

Sunday – We had a great day! Our church attendance was back up and we had tons of first time visitors. The group was able to attend their first service at Omega. During the Sunday school hour the team was divided into the different Sunday school classes and many were able to share or teach in their class. After the service we enjoyed more Chinese food, hung up flyers about the VBS and then went back to our house for dinner (and my daughter’s birthday party).

Monday – We started the day off with some great Chinese breakfast (at least I thought so). Then we went to the Buddhist Temple. It was an emotional time as our eye affected our hearts seeing people worship idols, offering incense, money, fruit, and bowing before these idols. We weren’t reading about it in some book or seeing it on TV, it was happening right before our eyes. We stood as a line of monks passed us singing and chanting (as if it was a march to hell). We left their to go to the top of the dragon tower where we could see the vast majority of the city. At both places we gave out tracts and prayed asking God to raise laborers and to do a work in this city.

After lunch, we returned to the church and started putting together flyers and Gospel tracts to invite people to the church. Part of the group left to hang the flyers on doors in the complex while others started to prepare for VBS. Because of the rain we moved the first part of the VBS inside and only a had a few kids. We were excited about the turn out as more kids started to arrive. The VBS was a huge success and the gospel was given. We ended and drew a large crowd at the end when we taught the kids how to do a water balloon toss. We invited everyone back for the final night of our 2-day VBS tomorrow.

Thanks for your prayers and pray for the VBS Tuesday night at 6 PM (6 AM EST).

Journaling Your Mission Trip

We encourage those taking a mission trip to keep a journal of the trip. Because of today’s technology, your journaling might not be by means of pencil and paper, maybe a computer or ipad, whatever it may be, record your trip. You will be so busy during the trip and so tired by the end of it, you don’t want to forget all the great things that happened and that you experienced. Here is some more advice from Pastor Austin Gardner on journaling for your missions trip:

Keep a Journal of your trip!

  • A Diary of your daily thoughts and events.
  • A record of your prayer requests .
  • A record of how you felt on the trip.
  • Preserve your joy for future memories.
  • Keep a list of what you are learning and how God is working in your life.
  • Right down quotes and sayings that you hear that are a blessing for you.
  • Review your day with God.
  • Be able to share with your family, friends and church all that God did in your life on the trip.

Tips on how to keep a journal

  • Start before you leave home
  • Set aside a quiet time each day for writing
  • Talk to your journal as though it were your best friend
  • Keep your journal confidential

Answer some questions in your journal entries like the following:

  1. What did I learn today that will benefit my spiritual life?
  2. What areas of my life does God seem to be talking to me about right now?
  3. What did I learn about serving Him?
  4. What did we do today?
  5. Who did we meet today?
  6. What decision did you make today for your spiritual life and growth?

Meeting Chinese Students – A VisionTour Update

This morning after devotions and breakfast we headed to Central Street (a popular and historic part of town) to see more of the city (and hundreds of people walking their streets) and meet up with a several college students. At first, we were told only five students would arrive, but their were about 11-12 that came. All of them were students from North of the river where one of the guys has started a small Bible study.

The purpose of today was simply to spend the day with these students and them to spend the day with us (building relationships). It gave the students a chance to practice their English and a chance for the group to help them and share the gospel. They spent the day walking around the Central street area and took a boat on the river. The students helped everyone get around and eat some authentic Chinese food!

Then we headed to North of the river for a Bible study and outreach activity. Almost all the students came to the Bible study and there were about 24 in attendance. The group was able to participate in preaching, testimonies, and signing.

After the service we went outside to the main plaza of the housing estate and started playing some games with the kids. A crowd started to form and then we passed out gospel tracts and church invitations.

Finally, we finished the day with fellowship over another Chinese meal and returned home for the night.

Adjust, Adjust, Adjust – A VisionTour Update

We finally made it back to our city today from Beijing! We flew in this afternoon after being delayed an hour because of our plane arriving late. The group arrived safely on Tuesday night and I was there to receive them in Beijing. The plane was several minutes late and by the time we got to the check-in counter we were almost that many minutes late from checking in. The airline wouldn’t work with us very well and so we missed the flight. Then the curve ball…there were no flights available until Friday afternoon. That was three days later. I was reminded of the famous words of my youth pastor “adjust, adjust, adjust.” We rearrange the trip to tour Beijing at the beginning and would move everything else to the end of the trip.

(Note: I didn’t bring hardly anything with me to Beijing because I didn’t ecpect to be staying there. Therefore, I didn’t have my computer and wasn’t able to keep everyone updated.)

I sent the group off to a hotel that we booked from the airport and I was running around the airport all night like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to get our new tickets and making arrangements for my wife, daughter and a friend to join us in Beijing. Finally, I was able to get most things worked out by 2:30 AM and I headed to the hotel.

The next couple of days we had a great time in Beijing. My Chinese was really tested as I was put in many situations that I really had to use it. We found some drivers and we were able to see Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, and experience the Beijing markets. The best part of Beijing was Wednesday night when we were able to visit a friend’s church. We were able to participate in their meeting and it was a blessing to hear the testimonies of a couple Chinese believers. God is doing a work in Beijing!

Today, we spend most of the day traveling and getting settled in here. Tomorrow, we should be back on schedule and are excited about what God is going to do in this city over the next several days!

Also, everyone kept a great attitude through it all and it was encouraging to see many from the group pick up tracts from the church and start giving them to different people they met throughout the course of the day.

Thanks for prayers and continue to pray for us!

How to Give Your Testimony in the Services

Many times on short-term mission trips there are opportunities to give your testimony during the church services. When you are giving your testimony and it is being translated, it is very different than giving it at your home church. Below is some advice from my Pastor Austin Gardner who was a missionary for 20 years (I adapted it for China).

How to Give Your Testimony in the Services

1. Write out your testimony.  It will surprise you how easy it is to get sidetracked by all the commotion and translating.

2. Keep it brief, maybe about 3 minutes!  With translation 3 minutes will turn into 5!

3. Open with a greeting in Chinese.  The folks like it when you try to speak their language and show a genuine interest in them.

4. Tell who you are and a little bit about you, married, work, something about your family, etc.

5. Add a couple of positive statements about the country, the church, and the people!

6. Do not talk about the poverty of the area, the currency as funny money, how sorry you feel for them, etc.

7. Tell what Christ has done for you, how did you get saved, how did you realize your need of a Savior, how has your life changed, how has Christ helped you lately.

8. Give a verse and make sure and give the application.

9. Do not give graphic details about your sin or your past life.

10. Avoid slang and idioms in your testimony.  They can be very difficult to translate and may have no meaning in the other language.

11. Do not use very long sentences or very short either.  Give a good thought that can be easily remembered by the translator!

12. Avoid stressing your material success or blessings and especially making any comparisons to what the people have in the country you are visiting!

13. Avoid speaking of the sacrifice that you made to get to the field.  Remember what it cost you to get to the country may be several months of a working man’s income.  You may share with them the blessing of being able to come and how good God was to answer your prayers and make it possible to be there!

14. Don’t tell jokes, etc. without prior approval to make sure that they translate, etc.

15. Thank the folks again and ask them to pray for you.  Be excited about the country and the opportunity to be there.

Tips, Helps, and Suggestions For Short-termers Traveling to China (3 of 3)

Journal
#33 – Let me encourage each of you to keep a journal of the trip. You will not remember everything you did because we are doing so much. Write down things we do and how you feel. How the Lord is working in your life. People gave so you could experience this, so write it down and share it with them when you get back.

Evangelizing
#34 – When conversing with those who speak English, feel free or maybe I should say, please share your testimony with them and ask them their testimony. Sharing the Gospel is always our goal!

#35 – The two things that we try to avoid are 1) anything political 2) openly giving the idea we are here to proselytize (instead of giving the idea that we are here to openly proselytize we just do it, telling them about Jesus).

#36 – We usually just refer to our ourselves as Bible teachers instead of missionaries because outside of the U.S. “missionary” has a bad connotation (what would you think of a person you met said he was a missionary to your hometown). We rather have someone compelled because we started talking about Jesus verses turned off because we gave our title.

#37 – Religious Freedom? We just act like we have it.

Translation
#38 – Don’t use jokes unless you check with the missionary to make sure they will translate.

#39 – Any unfamiliar words or stories check with the translator to make sure they know the less commonly used words.

#40 – Don’t speak fast unless your translator can keep up with you.

#41 – Speak, stop for translation, speak, stop for translation. Don’t speak a paragraph and then stop for translation, speak in phrases or short sentences.

Airport and Beyond
#42 – Once you get to the airport, you need to check in all the bags (except your carry-ons and personal items). You can try to check in as a group! Once you are checked in, you will need to go through security. After security, you will find your terminal and gate. After this you can take a deep breathe and get some food. Just watch your time and note when they start boarding.

#43 – Keep all luggage tags and ticket stubs. Once you arrive in China, they may ask you to see them.

#44 – If you don’t have a direct flight, you should still only need to pick up your luggage once you arrive in China. One you arrive at your layover destination, check in and find your gate as before.

#45 – Once you get to China, you need to go through customs and the baggage area and collect all of your bags (follow the crowd). Then you have to re-check in all the bags and go through the whole process again (if you are flying to another city in China)!

#46 – Once you finally arrive in our city, we will get all the bags, take a bus to the place you will be staying. For those that are hungry we can make a McDonald’s stop (even if it is midnight)!

Series: Part 1: Culture, Clothing | Part 2: Electronics, Travel, Luggage

Tips, Helps, and Suggestions For Short-termers Traveling to China (2 of 3)

Electronics
#17 – Electronics: Feel free to bring whatever electronics you want but remember we use a different voltage and plugs. You can tell if it is dual voltage by looking on the product and seeing if it says 110-240. Most computers are dual voltage. If you plug something in that is not dual voltage, you will burn it up and ruin it immediately. (We can provided an adapter if necessary.)

#18 – You always have the chance of something getting stolen (though we haven’t had anything stolen).

#19 – Computer: You can bring your computer but remember the Chinese government blocks website like Facebook and Twitter unless you pay for a VPN (buy and download before you come because they are blocked here).

#20 – On the long flight every seat should have a personal screen loaded with movies, TV shows, games, etc. Some people take their computers or DVD players to watch stuff on the pane, but know this option is available, so it’s not necessary.

#21 – We have a Vonage phone at our home that anyone can use to call the states for free. Also, if any of your family needs to contact you in an emergency we can provided a number for them to call and reach you.

Travel
#22 Keep in mind, for international flights, you are supposed to be at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight. Plan enough time to travel and arrive at the airport on time.

#23 – Remember your passport and keep it on you! Don’t pack it in your luggage. You can use it as your ID in the airport and must use it once you leave the US.

#24 – If you want to exchange money, bring new bills. We have had the bank reject older bills and refuse to exchange them for us.

#25 – Keep track of your stuff as we travel. The easiest way to loose something is to forget it in a taxi.

#26 – Everything won’t go perfect and at times plans might change drastically so when things like this happen our motto is “Adjust, Adjust, Adjust!”

Luggage
#27 Pack Light. You will need to carry your own luggage and we will be taking planes, trains, buses, and taxis.

#28 – Make sure each bag is not over 50 lb. Otherwise when you get to the airport they will make you pay a pretty big fee or you must take stuff out of the bag (and you will just have to throw it away) for them to check the bag.

#29 – Keep your carry-ons with you. You don’t have to weigh them and check them in (a carry-on can be a suitcase and a personal item can be a backpack).

#30 – The first time I came to China, the airlines lost all my luggage, never to be found and never gave me any reimbursement for it. So with that being said, if there is something you can’t afford to loose… you can decided to bring or not to bring.

#31 – Bags: Everyone can bring one checked bag at 50 pounds, one carry-on, and one personal item. The second checked bag will be used to help us transfer different supplies and items for missionaries (this is a huge help and blessing to the missionaries).

#32 – When bringing the extra bag through security, if they stop and open it, don’t act like “this isn’t my bag, I don’t know what’s in it.” You can just say “it is stuff for the friends we are visiting.”

Series: Part 1: Culture, Clothing | Part 3: Journal, Evangelizing, Translation

Tips, Helps, and Suggestions For Short-termers Traveling to China (1 of 3)

We are having a short-term missions team join us this week. We have been keeping in communication with the team over Facebook as they have been preparing to come. This has helped us answer any questions they had and also allowed us to offer some tips and advice from our own experience.

Therefore, this is a short series on some very practical tips, helps, and suggestions that we offered to the group. I think they will be a help to anyone taking a short-term missions trip to China.

Culture
#1 – Learn to use Chopsticks! Seriously, they don’t use forks. Chopsticks are the utensil of choice.

#2 – If you are not used to being called fat, being stared at, or having people wanting to take pictures with you, then get used to it! (Note: Even if you don’t think your fat, no worries, they probably do.)

#3 – Time Change is hard. You will probably have a 12 or 13 hour time change (depends where you are coming from)! On the plane I wouldn’t try to force yourself to sleep at certain times, I found it easier just to fall asleep whenever I was tired and then wake up whenever, dosing in and out of sleep.

#4 – Stay up the first full day here. You will be worn out and want to sleep, but try to stay up the first day you are in China and it will help you adjust for the rest of the week.

#5 – You will get meals on the plane, but it is also a good idea to bring snacks. (Plane Food = Not always the best.)

#6 – I hope you like Chinese food, because we will eat a lot of it! The only American restaurants we have in our city are McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut.

#7 – Practice you squatting skills! Most of the public bathrooms here are porcelain holes in the ground.

#8 – Make sure to always have toilet paper on you. Most bathrooms don’t have toilet paper in them.

#9 – Culture shock that you might experience from a short-trip: time change, huge city, poverty, dirtiness, the only white people are in our group, the amount of people, eating different foods, or not being able to speak to the majority of the people.

Clothing
#10 – Take an extra pair of clothes with you in your carry on. My first time coming to China they lost my luggage and never found it

#11 – We ask groups to dress modestly (at your discretion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) to be an example to the church here.

#12 – Sunday’s service guys in leadership usually were a shirt, tie, or suite. This isn’t a requirement, just letting you know what we usually do. Wednesday is pretty casual.

#13 – During the week, feel free to dress casual. Our city is dirty and we will be doing a lot of travel.

#14 – Bring / wear comfortable walking shoes. Door-2-door here means climbing several flights of stairs.

#15 – Wear comfortable clothes when traveling, you will be in them for a long time. Also, at the airports you will be going through several metal detectors etc. so don’t wear to much bling.

#16 – Yes, it is okay to wear shirts with “Christian logos” (cross, church, verses, etc.).

Series: Part 2: Electronics, Traveling, Luggage