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How Meals Open the Door to Eternal Hope

How Meals Open the Door to Eternal Hope

Across the Horn of Africa, famine looms — again.

Just scan news headlines, and you will see that hunger haunts the region, hunting down entire communities throughout the Horn of Africa every few years.

In one country in the area, more than 5 million people will soon require help to meet their nutritional needs to survive. The country has faced over half a dozen periods of food insecurity in four decades. People are hungry once again. They are also weary.

But they are not alone. Around the world more than 800 million people struggle to find enough food.

A United Community

In nearby Uganda people from South Sudan seek safety and a fresh start. Currently there are roughly 1 million refugees living in Uganda; most have fled the trauma of civil war.

But life still is not easy in their new country. Many of the South Sundanese refugees living in Uganda struggle to find food and hope. Recently 980 refugee families, along with prison inmates, orphans, and university students, received meals from Global Aid Network® (GAiN®). They were so grateful for the nourishment they need to survive.

After the meal distribution, many of the refugees who once struggled with bitterness toward other groups began to experience reconciliation and forgiveness. The kindness of Jesus softened their hearts and began the healing process. When the eternal hope of Jesus was shared, 235 people responded and 89 joined a discipleship group. Amidst hunger, war, and strife, these refugees now have a brighter future filled with hope.

A Cup of Cold Water

When you consider world hunger, and the 800 million people who struggle to find enough food, it feels like we can do so little. Yet Jesus reminds us that small things matter. Look at His words in Matthew 25:37-40:

Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?”

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.”

Whenever we take the time to express kindness to those who are hurting — when we offer them a cup of cold water or nourishing food — we are also offering that same kindness to Jesus. Such acts, however small, restore dignity and ultimately reveal hope.

We may not be able to end world hunger today, but we can each do something. And that small act — whether it be for a neighbor or someone around the world — might just change their life.

Fight Famine: Rush Meals and Hope to Africa

Across the Horn of Africa families and communities are teetering on the brink of famine. They are desperate for food now. We are trusting God to send 1.8 million meals to hungry people in 13 countries by Christmas. But we need your help to reach that goal and save people from starvation. Every 13 cents you give today will rush a nutrition-packed meal to a hungry child or family. And with each meal given comes an opportunity to relieve suffering, restore dignity, and reveal hope! Learn how you can help here.

As the humanitarian partner of Cru®, Global Aid Network® (GAiN®) expresses the kindness of Jesus to people living in the toughest places on earth by relieving suffering, restoring dignity, and revealing hope. We accomplish our mission, in partnership with international Cru ministries, through three programs: food and agriculture, clean water, and critical aid. Our partners at Cru work in more than 191 countries in the world. Over the course of 25 years of ministry, GAiN has leveraged strategic global partnerships and the service of dedicated volunteers to relieve suffering for people through humanitarian assistance.

One Man Changes A Village

One Man Changes A Village

Moses is a man who grew up, came to know Jesus, was trained by Operation Mobilization (OM) in his native Zambia and was then sent to Chitwe, a village on the great Lake Tanganyika that borders Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Tanzania.

Stretching 420 miles long and 31 wide, Lake Tanganyika is the world’s second largest body of freshwater that beautifies Africa like a glittering pool when seen from outer space. But, with a lake bottom that sits almost a mile below the surface, it is also Africa’s deepest lake, giving the water a dark and abysmal quality, as if to symbolize certain occult beliefs associated with the lake.

Your youngest child for a fish

Once a month, the bright light of the full moon drives fish to very deep parts of Lake Tanganyika leaving the fishermen without a catch. Not understanding natural laws, the tribal fisherman concluded that angry lake gods were at fault.  Each month, after consulting a witchdoctor, a fisherman would sacrifice their youngest child and sprinkle his fishing net with the blood and remains before going out to fish. This would appease the lake gods and ensure their hand in an ample catch of fish until the next month when the pact would be renewed. This practice is a tradition that goes back for centuries.

Showing a better way – one man changes a village

Into this context OM sent our worker, Moses. He settled into this unreached village, perched on the border between Zambia and Tanzania, with a boat OM supplied so he could live as a self-sustaining and credible presence, using relevant skills in this unreached community that depends on fishing for its main industry and sustenance.

Moses remembers going to this community, “to be a light in that place. I didn’t go to tell them what they were doing wrong; I went to show them how to live right and bring the teachings of Jesus.”

Moses understood that on bright moon-lit nights, fish were just in a different part of the lake.  He caught fish on those nights of the full moon. The village fisherman took notice. Soon a change came over the village that would eradicate the fearful superstition with its cost of young lives.

Moses and his fishing boat became the talk of the village, gaining controversial recognition as the “prayer boat” when it surprised locals with a series of bountiful catches without any aid from ritual sacrifices. As word of this “miracle” spread, other fishermen came to Moses wanting to join as crew and were welcomed, giving him the opportunity to share the message behind the boat’s name, King of Kings, and its unconventional approach involving prayer.

In addition to catching fish without sacrificing young lives, Moses loved and respected his wife and showed love while interacting with his children in the village. His Christ-like attitude and interactions both in his personal life and with his crew on the boat demonstrated a light and a different way of being the villagers hadn’t witnessed before.

One of the first to hear and embrace Moses’ message and lifestyle was a village chief named Andrew. He prayed to receive Christ in large part because he was impressed with Moses’s distinct character and lifestyle.

Soon, many came to faith. Moses got to disciple them on the boat during the long hours on the lake helping their faith and understanding to grow. They learned for the first time about the Creator God who became a man and offered Himself as a human sacrifice, paying the price of sin once and for all in order to restore mankind to relationship with Himself. They learned that the King of kings is supreme and, unlike the angry and bloodthirsty lake gods, provides for those who seek Him with no further need of sacrifice and bloodshed.

Once fearful villagers fearlessly take light and hope to neighboring villages and a new generation

Today, Andrew is no longer consulting witchdoctors, beating his wife or relying on alcohol to cope with the guilt and superstitious fears from which he has been freed. Andrew became the church leader and is at Moses’s side in ministry, evangelizing neighboring villages along Lake Tanganyika and mentoring a group of younger men to become Africa’s next generation of native missionaries. The growing band of fishermen comprises a group of OM workers native to Africa who are upsetting tradition while bringing fundamental change to a remote and least-reached area of the world. Nicknamed the “fishers of men,” they own and operate a fishing boat business, with two more recently purchased “prayer boats,” that relies not on blood sacrifices but on the power of prayer. The business and its profits are a self-sustaining means to their missionary work.

A community of Jesus followers, impacting the society in which it exists with local leadership, is now multiplying itself in the surrounding area. A vibrant community was born and is bringing other vibrant communities to life, after investment in one indigenous man.

Operation Mobilization traces its roots to the prayers of an American housewife. In the 1950s, Dorothea Clapp began to pray faithfully for the students in her local High School. She asked God to touch the world through the lives of those young people. And God answered her prayers!

Mrs. Clapp gave a copy of the Gospel of John to one of those students, who later gave his life to the Lord at a Billy Graham meeting. That young man was George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilization.

Operation Mobilization (OM), USA is a global organization working with 6,800 missionaries in 118 nations to build communities of Christ followers, provide humanitarian assistance and demonstrate compassion. Though the Gospel has been with us for nearly 2,000 years, 2.8 billion people have never experienced its message of love and hope. In many cases, these same people are being crushed by unspeakable poverty, horrific injustice and cruel social and political systems.

Whether it’s rescuing enslaved women in Asia, assisting refugees in Europe, or developing bodies of believers in the the Middle East, we pinpoint ways to strengthen local communities and use the opportunities God presents us along the way to share The Bible’s life-giving message. When you partner with OM USA, through your professional work, financial generosity, and/or prayer, you become an important member of a worldwide movement with eternal significance. With operations in nearly every region of the world, the sun never sets on our operations, meaning you will be part of a team serving the needy and spreading the Word of God every minute of every day. Few other organizations allow you to see your time and talent reach so far or impact so many.

On MissionFinder, we have over 1,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Does your church or organization need help organizing mission trips? Check out our partner site, MissionMinder.com. Their easy to use software will help you manage all the details for your short-term mission trips and team members online. Unlimited Trips. Unlimited team members. Easy online fundraising pages. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.

 

Why We Should go On Short-Term Mission Trips

Why We Should go On Short-Term Mission Trips

For two decades as a leader in youth ministry, one of my goals has been to try and get every committed student to go on at least one mission trip before they graduate high school. There is some debate about whether short-term mission trips are effective for discipling students, but I am convinced that mission trips are a powerful way to help students grow in Christlikeness.

Here are some questions often raised about the legitimacy and effectiveness of short-term mission trips and my responses to them.

I know people who went on mission trips that are no longer serving Jesus. Isn’t that proof that other methods are more effective?

It is a sad reality that some people who go on short-term trips return home and the fire fades. In fact, that probably happens to everyone who goes on a mission trip. The passion and intensity experienced in the midst of a week of concentrated service on a mission are hard to sustain over the course of a year. Some students do indeed even walk away from their faith after amazing God-encounters on a mission trip. I have seen this firsthand, and it saddens me deeply.

However, I have seen kids walk through all different kinds of discipleship methods and end up the same way. It is also true that many students come back from mission trips having had life-changing encounters with God that propel them into a lifetime of passionate service. One of my greatest joys has been taking kids on mission trips and seeing them come home and change the focus of their lives. For example, rather than going to college to become a lawyer so they can make lots of money, they start to ask how they can use their law degree to help people in need, such as victims of human trafficking. I have also had several students pursue full-time ministry in the church as a result of God’s activity in their lives during mission trips. I can think of at least a dozen kids that I have taken on mission trips who are currently serving God vocationally in youth ministry, leading worship, and more. It is very encouraging to realize that taking them away for a week to serve others provided them space to hear God speak to them about His plans for their lives.

Isn’t it a waste to spend all of that money for a bunch of kids to go somewhere for two weeks when that same amount of money could simply be sent to communities and local/national workers who could do so much more with it?

This is a very valid question and one that I personally had to wrestle through quite extensively. However, I began to ask another question: How will we ever fully know the needs around the world and what needs to be done? The truth is, the most powerful learning happens experientially. It happens not when we tell people, but when we show people; when we give them a chance to see for themselves.

The most impactful way to help people get a vision for God’s world is to take them and let them see His world first-hand.

As we go and serve those less fortunate, we begin to see the world through God’s eyes and the reality of our abundance and blessing will stand in stark contrast to what we are witnessing. My prayer is that the question will begin to arise in each participant’s heart: How can I use the resources God has given me to help meet these needs and spread the good news to those who have never heard? In the short-term, the money point is absolutely true. However, if we can see the money spent to take teams around the world as an investment, just imagine what will happen in the long run if even half of the people who do decide to give to missional causes regularly. I dare to say that the money spent on short-term trips will be pennies in comparison to what they will give throughout their lifetimes.

I speak to these first two points, not just theoretically, but from personal experience. When I was 15 years old, I spent a summer on a mission trip in Tanzania, Africa. It was during this trip that I developed a burden for people around the world and God confirmed my call to vocational ministry. From that moment on I never considered doing anything else with my life. I knew that God wanted me to spend the rest of my life in vocational service to Him. Moreover, I love giving to support missional work around the world and inviting others to do the same. In fact, at the time of this writing, I am training to run a marathon, and people are partnering with me, giving to help provide clean water for people in Africa. (Say a prayer for me. 26.2 miles is a long way to run!)

Where do you find the phrase “short-term mission trips” in the Bible?

While you won’t find the phrase specifically, you will find countless short-term trips referred to in the gospels and all throughout the New Testament. One incident is recorded in Luke 10 when Jesus sent his disciples out to proclaim the good news. I once heard Ron Luce point out three things about this sending. 1) Jesus told them to go. 2) He told them to go even though they were young. (A study of the culture and the lives of the disciples will suggest that many of them were quite young when Jesus called them to be His disciples.) 3) He told them to go on a short trip. Since we are also disciples of Jesus commissioned to spread the good news of God’s love, we can see from this passage that short-term trips are one way to accomplish that mission.

When we are filled with the compassion of Christ for the lost, the poor, the suffering, it will compel us to get involved. Feeling sorry for people will not bring the Gospel to them. Compassion leads to action.

Through short-term mission trips, eyes are opened to the reality of how the rest of the world lives, people are motivated to life-long action aimed at spreading the Gospel, callings, and destinies are revealed and confirmed, and hearts begin to beat God-rhythms for God’s world. While short-term mission trips must be balanced by other discipleship initiatives, I would suggest that they are nevertheless a biblical and powerful tool in God’s toolbox that He draws from to shape us into the image of His Son.

© Kevin Mahaffy

Kevin has served in youth ministry for over 20 years as a teaching pastor and a popular camp and retreat speaker. Kevin has written two books and co-authored several others.

With humble beginnings going back to the early 1990s, Group Mission Trips has been working with and helping communities across the United States and the world. As the non-profit mission ministry of Group Cares, we work hard to bring meaningful service to the communities we serve. Since our beginning, thousands upon thousands of mission trip participants have racked up millions of volunteer hours serving people in need.

All these years later, one constant remains true: We strongly believe in providing opportunities for teenagers to encounter Jesus through serving others either in their own backyard or halfway across the globe. The Group Mission Trips legacy of lasting impact continues.

On MissionFinder, we have over 1,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Does your church or organization need help organizing mission trips? Check out our partner site, MissionMinder.com. Their easy to use software will help you manage all the details for your short-term mission trips and team members online. Unlimited Trips. Unlimited team members. Easy online fundraising pages. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.

 

Giving Back

Giving Back

Nelson Lungu Has been an under-the-radar part of ACTION Zambia (AZ) for many years. As a student he worked at Camp Ciyanjano during his school breaks, earning money for his and his cousin’s schooling. With Camp Ciyanjano’s encouragement, Nelson excelled in his studies and faithfully participated in his local church while becoming the first in his family to complete 12th grade. Having experienced God’s blessings, Nelson wanted to pour into others.

While in secondary school Nelson had noticed how young women struggle with math, a necessary skill for any commerce. He felt God calling him to be a part of a generation of teachers who helped underserved students become competent at math. To accomplish this, Nelson dreamed of college. Even while working at Camp Ciyanjano fulltime and paying family bills, he was able to save a bit toward his college education each month. The process was slow, at least by man’s perception, but God was using this time in a number of ways.

While waiting on God, Nelson participated in a discipleship program with ACTION Zambia called D2:7, a year-long program designed to build up students’ faith and knowledge. He also served with a group of youth leaders, Ciyanjano “Champs”, conducting camps and Bible Clubs. These ministries gave Nelson more opportunities to acquire wisdom and experience.

Nelson’s tenacity, experience, and desire to serve led camp leaders to ask him to help open a container library for the surrounding community. Nelson accepted! It seems as though Nelson was always studying with kids needing tutoring and today Nelson continues to share the good news of Christ by deed and word, pouring back into these students what others have shared with him.

We are celebrating God’s faithfulness as Nelson has begun a university teaching program. ACTION Zambia was able to augment Nelson’s college savings as he works toward his teaching degree. The ACTION team is thrilled to see Nelson grow in his desire to see others perform well in school and grow in Christ. Pray for Nelson, and that others will also be called to give back.

In 1974, ACTION started working alongside small Filipino churches on the streets of Manila, ministering to street kids who had run away from home. From that small beginning, we have grown into an evangelical, interdenominational missionary-sending organization with workers in 30 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. To learn more about Action International click here.

On MissionFinder, we have over 1,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Does your church or organization need help organizing mission trips? Check out our partner site, MissionMinder.com. Their easy to use software will help you manage all the details for your short-term mission trips and team members online. Unlimited Trips. Unlimited team members. Easy online fundraising pages. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.

21 Seconds Can Change a Life

21 Seconds Can Change a Life

A child dies from a water-related illness every 21 seconds. A startling statistic, yet these are someone’s children. Someone’s grandchildren.

Every day moms and dads in places like Africa face a terrible dilemma — giving their children drinking water that is contaminated. They have no choice. Water is needed to survive. Yet the only water available to them contains bacteria and parasites that can be deadly.

The reality is staggering, especially considering most water-born illnesses are preventable. But in many places, people lack the economic resources — and the tools — needed to dig deep wells that provides a sustainable source of water. So families are left searching for whatever they can find, often settling for dirty water when nothing else is available.

THE CHANGE WATER BRINGS

The change is remarkable. As you walk through a remote village in Tanzania, you see it everywhere.

Once clean water was nearly impossible to find. Families had to walk long distances in search of fresh water. When they couldn’t find it, they had to settle for dirty, disease-ridden water. The area was extremely dry spiritually too — the culture was hostile, and even violent, toward even the mention of the name Jesus.

But that all changed when local partners, together with a Global Aid Network® (GAiN®) team, arrived to drill a water well. The act of giving villagers access to safe, clean water broke down barriers and slowly opened doors to share the eternal hope of Jesus.

Today three churches have been established. When our team and the regional pastor visited recently, 60 people came to publicly express their hope in Jesus.

Water gives life. It also opens doors for people to learn about Jesus’ living water and the transformation it brings.

THE DIFFERENCE YOU CAN MAKE

What if you could spend 21 seconds to save a child’s life or positively affect a remote Tanzanian village or other place that is tough to reach?

Here are three simple ways you can make a difference in little more than 21 seconds.

Pray. We often overlook the difference that prayer can make, especially when we consider global situations and crises. But God invites us to bring every issue — big and small — to Him.

Max Lucado says, “Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.”

So pray, even if it is just for 21 seconds to start, for those in need of water around the world.

Share. Did you know the water crisis is so serious? Chances are many of your friends and family members don’t know about this grave situation.

We cannot change what we do not know about. Tell others about the needs of families around the world. Post or Tweet about the global water crisis. You can help raise awareness. It takes little more than 21 seconds to share the serious news and potential solutions.

Give. If you want to do more than pray and share, consider giving to help provide clean, safe water to families in need. Whether it is a little or a lot, every dollar matters as we seek to end preventable diseases and provide fresh water to people living in some of the toughest places on earth. Right now your gift will be doubled to help twice as many thirsty families.

What can you do to give water to those who need it most? How will you make a difference? Often it takes less than 21 seconds to help.

By Amanda DeWitt

As the humanitarian partner of Cru®Global Aid Network® (GAiN®) expresses the kindness of Jesus to people living in the toughest places on earth by relieving suffering, restoring dignity, and revealing hope.

We accomplish our mission, in partnership with international Cru ministries, through three programs: food and agriculture, clean water, and critical aid. Our partners at Cru work in more than 191 countries in the world.

Over the course of 25 years of ministry, GAiN has leveraged strategic global partnerships and the service of dedicated volunteers to relieve suffering for people through humanitarian assistance.

On MissionFinder, we have over 1,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Does your church or organization need help organizing mission trips? Check out our partner site, MissionMinder.com. Their easy to use software will help you manage all the details for your short-term mission trips and team members online. Unlimited Trips. Unlimited team members. Easy online fundraising pages. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.

How to Engage Youth in Service

How to Engage Youth in Service

Several years ago I called our town hall to inquire about getting a parking sticker for my car. As I was listening to the menu options, I heard, “For the Youth Bureau, press 4.” Our town has a youth bureau? I thought. Forget the sticker! As a youth pastor, I was so intrigued that there were people in our neighborhood working with teenagers, so I pressed 4. Within a couple days, I was having lunch with the director.

“What is the name of your church again?” she asked. I repeated the name for a second time.

“And where is it located?”

“Just a half mile up the road from here,” I replied.

“Huh, never heard of it.”

Her words made me realize things had to change.

I serve at a church of over 2,000 people on a given Sunday. We have been in the community for over 50 years. We are involved in missions and our youth ministry and church are known all over the world. But the director of the Youth Bureau in our town had never heard of us. It was at that moment I knew God was challenging me to change the way I was doing youth ministry.

Without realizing, we had given our students the impression that missional work was something done once or twice a year. It was time for a culture change. We needed to rediscover the call of Jesus to be missionaries every day. So, I began intentional teachings on living with a missional mindset, helping students understand that service is about taking Jesus wherever we go and working to advance God’s kingdom through our actions.

I don’t know who first coined this phrase, but it became one I began to inject into the language of our ministry: The light that shines the farthest shines the brightest at home.

I soon joined the Youth Bureau in our town. I don’t believe I brought God to our city; God was already at work. But if we would choose to pay attention, He would show us how we could partner with Him to advance His kingdom. So, I went to meetings and listened to what was happening in our community, asking God how He wanted us as a youth ministry to serve.

At one of the meetings someone suggested having a program at the beach on Friday nights so kids would have a safe and fun place to hang out during the summer. I asked if our youth ministry could come and give away free food. Everybody loves food, and our offer was met with great enthusiasm. We didn’t go preach with words, we just showed up and preached with our actions. The coolest part was that when people asked us why we were giving away free food, we were able to tell them we were doing it because we had experienced the love of Jesus, and in turn, we wanted to share it with others in practical ways.

Soon, I began to build service into the rhythm of our youth ministry. I launched a service opportunity called “Serve and Swim” during the summer. Rather than our usual midweek gathering, we had students meet in town and engage in simple service projects, followed by a pool party.

A few years later I created, “Love Long Island.” Each year, for two days during spring break, we took students to do service projects for families and organizations in our community. We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for homeless shelters, sorted donations at community thrift shops, repaired fences, helped with yard work, painted, and worked with organizations that help people with special needs.

By building local service into the rhythm of our year to complement our annual mission trips, I noticed a significant shift.

While we haven’t solved the crisis of American self-centeredness, we did experience a noticeable change in our students’ mindsets and attitudes, which transformed the culture of our student ministry. Where once we were begging students to help with things like cleaning up the youth room, or serving at church functions, now, students seemed eager to help. They began seeing needs they were once totally oblivious to, and they started taking the initiative to be a part of the solution (or at least not complaining and dragging their feet when we asked them to help).

Some things that help engage students in service:

1 – Model it. Don’t ask your students to be servants if you and your leaders aren’t serving yourselves. Leaders, by definition, go first. Set the example. Show them, and do it with them.
2 – Make it a big deal. If you want serving to become a lifestyle for your students, you need to talk about serving…a lot. Spend time exploring topics of love and service in Scripture, particularly in the life and teachings of Jesus. The Bible is clear that we cannot say we love God and ignore the daily needs of others. Serving is how we put our beliefs to the test.
3 – Make it fun. If serving is a drag, students will not want to do it. It can be hard and challenging, but it’s never dull. Find ways to make service fun. Build fun competition, crack jokes when things aren’t going as planned, give them fun incentives, etc. Give students shirts when they register. Host a swim party after a long day of serving. Take students out for a Slurpee or a burger on the way home. Be creative and show them that serving, especially together with their friends, can be fun.
4 – Make it short. The best way to introduce healthy elements into your ministry is by starting small. For “Love Long Island,” I knew that if I asked students to sacrifice their whole spring break, our participation would have been minimal. By making it a two-day commitment on the front-end of the week, they still had five days to sleep in, play video games, or whatever they wanted. Our service days were only 9am-3pm so they still had their evenings on those two days.
5 – Make it affordable. Service projects are built into my student ministry budget. I purchase needed supplies, etc. using those funds. For “Love Long Island,” I just charged students $25. For the two days that covered their t-shirt, bag lunches, chaperones, and transportation. Even if you don’t have a budget, you can keep the cost low. Again, be creative. Have students bring personal work gear, tools, and even their lunch.
6 – Make it regular. Through the years I have always looked for ways to make service a constant on our calendar. In addition to our annual events and mission trips, we also designate monthly or bi-monthly “Serve Nights” for our small groups. On those nights, rather than having regular small group meetings, they plan and implement service projects as groups. Through the years they have made care packages for kids with cancer, wrote Valentine’s cards for veterans, visited nursing homes, cleaned the church, delivered goodie bags to local business owners, and picked up trash around town. By Kevin Mahaffy

Kevin Mahaffy Jr. is husband to Adriana, and father of two daughters — Claudia who is a college student, and Natalia who is in high school. He has served in youth ministry for over 20 years as a teaching pastor and a popular camp and retreat speaker. Kevin has written two books and co-authored several others. He is a big Yankees fan, bookaholic, Starbucks junkie, Krispy Kreme addict, and blogger. He exercises a lot, but he also eats a lot, so you can’t tell he exercises a lot.

With humble beginnings going back to the early 1990s, Group Mission Trips has been working with and helping communities across the United States and the world. As the non-profit mission ministry of Group Cares, we work hard to bring meaningful service to the communities we serve. Since our beginning, thousands upon thousands of mission trip participants have racked up millions of volunteer hours serving people in need.

All these years later, one constant remains true: We strongly believe in providing opportunities for teenagers to encounter Jesus through serving others either in their own backyard or halfway across the globe. The Group Mission Trips legacy of lasting impact continues…

At Group Mission Trips, we provide Jesus-centered short term mission trips for children, youth, and adults.  Group Mission Trips are divided into Workcamps which are week-long Home Repair Youth Missions Camps.  Weekend Workcamps which are four-day home repair service. Catholic Workcamps which are week-long Home Repair Youth Mission Camps designed to connect teenagers’ service activities to their Catholic faith.  Week of Hope, which are week-long Community Service Youth Missions Camps. International Mission Trips  which are safe, meaningful international mission trips for all ages. Learn more about mission opportunities and how to support their work here.

On MissionFinder, we have over 1,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Does your church or organization need help organizing mission trips? Check out our partner site, MissionMinder.com. Their easy to use software will help you manage all the details for your short-term mission trips and team members online. Unlimited Trips. Unlimited team members. Easy online fundraising pages. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.

The Rewards of Mission Work

The Rewards of Mission Work

“To put simply, they need you,” says mission veteran Nathaniel Planalp.

This statement encompasses one of the main reasons why RP Missions continues to send out young people to local and distant places year after year. While mission work may provide different perspectives of ourselves and others, or help us learn more about another culture, service is at the heart of short-term missions. Planalp, a recent college graduate from Columbus, Indiana, has served in both Cyprus and Germany and adamantly encourages everyone to give short-term missions a try.

“I think high school/college is an absolutely perfect time to travel the world, meet new people, get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, and grow in your faith. However, the number one motivator that always convicted me was the need to be a servant to my brothers and sisters in Christ. As great as experiencing different cultures is, it is not ultimately why you ought to go. Missions gives a greater scope of what is important, and you will not regret going.”

Through short-term missions, young people learn how to use their God-given gifts for His purposes and glory. For Planalp, his travels helped him realize how he could use his own abilities in service to others within the church. For example, his bachelor’s degree in English Writing became very helpful to the church in Germany, as he was able to write programs and itineraries for the Trinity Reformed Church’s summer retreat. He was also able to teach introduction English lessons in Cyprus to a group of refugee children. As Planalp discovered, many of the churches partnering with RP Missions make it a priority to find spots for everyone on the team, allowing each member to use their skill sets for service.

Working with the kids turned out to be one of the most rewarding aspects of Planlap’s trips. In Germany he had the pleasure of helping run the Vacation Bible School program. The team would divide into different positions or age groups and spend the week doing morning and evening sessions for the church’s youth.

“I think the inclusion of our team made it exciting for the kids, added fresh energy and helping hands, and the opportunity for the adults to have their own time of spiritual refreshing and learning,” he said.

At the end of the day, service abroad has given Planalp a new understanding of his role as a Christian in the States. These trips helped him realize what “real need” looks like, and how he can continue to pray for God’s people around the world. In the church in Cyprus, particularly, Planalp met with people from very different life backgrounds than his own.

Unlike his own comfortable upbringing, many of the families within the church are refugees fleeing persecution. Planalp had the opportunity to listen to their stories, which he described as powerful testimonies of God’s faithfulness in the midst of great adversity. One of the greatest lessons the team took away from their time in Cyprus was “that God is present and works mightily through his Holy Spirit even against fear and adversity.”

Planalp invites everyone to pray for his friends in both places. He asks we ask for refreshment and encouragement for the families in Germany, as many are military families living away from home. For the people in Cyprus, he asks that we pray for peace and safety for the refugees in the midst of dangerous and ruptured cultures.

RP Missions provides opportunities for God’s people to serve Christ through short-term efforts partnering with established congregations and missions. RP Missions helps Christians grow in their appreciation for Christ’s Church and in their service to our Savior, all while actively engaging in evangelism to the lost, discipleship of the saved, and encouragement to Christian laborers at home and abroad. Trips are anywhere from two weeks to three years in length.

On MissionFinder, we have over 1,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Does your church or organization need help organizing mission trips? Check out our partner site, MissionMinder.com. Their easy to use software will help you manage all the details for your short-term mission trips and team members online. Unlimited Trips. Unlimited team members. Easy online fundraising pages. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.

Emergency Field Hospital Treating Hurricane Survivors in the Bahamas

Emergency Field Hospital Treating Hurricane Survivors in the Bahamas

Lucinda Haven, her daughter Clarena, and grandson Abel weathered Hurricane Dorian inside a public shelter and avoided the dangers of flying glass, rising tides, and having to walk through miles of waist-high water.

Once they returned home, however, Lucinda stepped out of the back of a truck with her family, fell, and fractured the bones in her lower left leg. It was terrible timing as Grand Bahama’s healthcare system is desperately struggling to recover after the storm.

In response to this need, Samaritan’s Purse has opened an Emergency Field Hospital in Freeport, at the request of the World Health Organization and the government of the Bahamas. Our team is now standing in the gap to take the pressure off local medical facilities. Lucinda was the first patient upon our opening Tuesday morning (Sept. 10).

Within the first hour, more than a dozen other patients entered the mobile hospital seeking medical help.

“Plenty of people lost their families. Plenty of people are still missing. It’s a tragedy felt all over the Bahamas. We lost everything, our homes, but we still have life,” Lucinda said while being treated at our hospital.

With this Tier 2 facility in place, our team of surgeons, physicians, nurses, pharmaceutical staff, and biotech engineers will be able to provide medical care for up to 100 outpatient cases per day. There is bed space available for as many as 40 inpatients. The hospital can provide up to 10 surgeries per day and is complete with an obstetrics ward with delivery room.

Additionally, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are on hand to provide spiritual and emotional care to patients and their families.

After Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas—especially Grand Bahama and the Abacos—many medical facilities were inundated by floodwaters, forcing them to close.

The regional hospital in Freeport, Rand Memorial Hospital, is normally the busiest medical center in the area, but it’s been crippled by power outages and damaged equipment. Many patients have had to go untreated, and others are hospitalized in wards woefully under equipped to handle their conditions.

Kelly Suter, a clinical manager for Samaritan’s Purse, says our Emergency Field Hospital is expected to stay busy while Rand Memorial gets back up to speed over the coming months.

“All of the electric has to be ripped out and the whole thing [Rand Memorial] has to be rebuilt before they can use it again,” she said. “They have no operating room and little space for patient care.”

With excellent medical treatment as a platform, our teams are able to go deeper in their care for patients, praying with them and their loved ones and sharing the hope found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Shannon Wood, an intensive care nurse serving with Samaritan’s Purse, says this is why she went into medicine.

Our medical team is working to serve the people of the Bahamas in Jesus’ Name.

“I think this is such an amazing opportunity to be here in the Bahamas to reach people for Jesus by providing healthcare to them,” she said. “I just love helping people when they need it most, and you cannot pick a time when people need healthcare and Jesus more.”

Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, medical director for the Emergency Field Hospital, says we will provide emergency and trauma care but that we will also help meet every day medical needs in Jesus’ Name.

“There are no operational hospitals on these islands, and there are people suffering not just from injuries from the hurricane but from normal day-to-day things,” Dr. Tenpenny said. “There are women who are giving birth all the time and nowhere to go. This is four islands with no medical care. They’ve experienced a great deal of suffering during this hurricane and we’re here to relieve a little bit of that suffering and to reach people for Jesus Christ.”

Samaritan’s Purse teams also are working in the Bahamas’ hardest-hit areas to provide shelter materials, water filters, hygiene kits, and other relief supplies.

Please continue to pray for hurting residents of the Bahamas. Many people have lost homes and loved ones and are reeling from so much devastation. Please also pray for our medical teams that God would use them to heal hurting, sick, and injured people in Jesus’ Name.

Update (10:54 a.m., Sept. 11): Samaritan’s Purse treated more than 90 patients on the first full day of operations at our Emergency Field Hospital (Sept. 10). That’s near capacity! Please continue to pray for the people of the Bahamas and for our medical team members who are working long days caring for people in Jesus’ Name.

Samaritan’s Purse stands ready to respond at a moment’s notice whenever and wherever disaster strikes. We specialize in meeting critical needs for victims of conflict, disaster, famine, and epidemics throughout the world, often working through ministry partners on the ground. We provide food, water, shelter, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. To learn more about Samaritan’s Purse and how you can help support their work click here.

On MissionFinder, we have over 1,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Does your church or organization need help organizing mission trips? Check out our partner site, MissionMinder.com. Their easy to use software will help you manage all the details for your short-term mission trips and team members online. Unlimited Trips. Unlimited team members. Easy online fundraising pages. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.