Our PPM staff is at it again… another blog series!! Check out the other posts my friends/co-workers have made at the bottom of this post! Here’s my thoughts on preparing your teenager for a mission trip:
Hey there parents. So, your teenager is going on a mission trip. First of all, you are awesome and courageous for letting them go! Their life will be changed for the better because of the few days giving of themselves until they can’t keep their eyes open and their hearts are about to explode because of everything they are experiencing!! You won’t regret this experience.
With that said, I want to give some pointers as to what your teenager should/should not take in order to make the trip the best possible. I’m coming at your from my own experience – going on my first mission trips as a teenager, working with lots of teenagers on our PPM trips, and from having a teenager myself (not that he takes my advice).
Trip Bible verse – If the mission team didn’t do this already, pick out a verse/theme for the trip. Look through the Bible together and figure out a verse that would really say in words what you are hoping will happen on the trip. For example, our first trip to Belize with PPM, we prayed Ephesians 6:19 over our team and our week. It says this: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…” That’s good stuff!! And that’s exactly what happened during our trip. Some of our group shared the Gospel with 3 teenage boys who had never heard about Jesus. We ministered in an orphanage, in Queen Street Baptist Church, and at the Golden Age Nursing Home. Picking out a verse for the trip really helps focus the mind and energy on the MAIN THING!
PRAY – If you don’t already pray as a family… do it now! Pray over your kiddo and over the week he/she is going to experience as a missionary in a new location. Pray together. Pray individually. Pray! Pray! Pray! When your teenager is going on a mission trip in order to advance the Gospel, the Enemy is going to be after them and your family. He wants to stop it… or distract while it’s happening. Be on guard and help prepare your student by praying, praying, praying.
Do missions together – If the family isn’t going on the trip together (which you should one day… IT’S THE BEST!), do missions at home! Do Christmas Shoeboxes, host a Bible study, feed the hungry, write Christmas cards to the nursing home, go help a widow from your church… whatever you can think of… DO IT! When your child sees their parents doing missions for the sake of Christ, it has lasting impact. To see a pastor/youth pastor/adult leader do it is one thing, but to see their parents actively engaged in ministry will shape them and empower them in a totally new way!
Notes for everyday – Whether or not they admit it, teenagers like the corny, sentimental things you do. Write them a little note of encouragement for each day they’ll be on the trip. They’ll love it! It gives them a boost each morning when they read it. Just write a little note, date each one, and stick it in their luggage!
A REAL Bible – You know… the kind with paper and words in it? Not a digital one. Encourage them to WRITE in the paper Bible. Later, they’ll be able to look back over verses that impacted them while on the trip and something they can pass on to others later. If they are going to a location in which they don’t speak English, encourage them to take a Bible in the location’s language with their favorite verses highlighted!
A journal – Gosh… the best and hardest thing is processing the trip and all that is seen and felt and happens. Journaling is an amazing tool for just that. Some would say journaling is a lost art, but I disagree. I believe journaling thoughts, prayers, and stories really helps teenagers (and myself) focus on what is being written and allows for a closer relationship to the Lord develop. Encourage them to write about each day, a special story that happened, a favorite child they met, or a new Bible verse they found/were told. It’s a life changer!
DO NOT TAKE:
CELL PHONE – Just don’t let them take it! I know… all the other kids will have them, you want to be able to get in touch with your child, it’s their camera…. and the list goes on. JUST DON’T LET IT HAPPEN! It’s such a distraction. They’ll say they won’t use it… or they will just use it for pictures or music. That’s a bit of a stretch. It can become a distraction so quickly and easily. One of my favorite quotes from a teenage girl on my trip from this past summer was, “Wow. I’m so glad I didn’t bring my phone… I have actually talked to people and feel like we are friends!” Ha! She was with her youth group… the one she’d been a part of for years… and because she didn’t have her cell phone, she was finally able to make connections, have real conversations, and develop great friendships with the people around her! Don’t let that cell phone get in the bag! Make sure you have contact information for the adults going on the trip… they’ll have their phones. Don’t worry! God’s got this! If they get mad at your for taking the phone… they’ll live. They’ll thank you later!
“The Ultimate Mission Trip Packing Guide.” – tips and tricks from Praying Pelican Missions missionaries on how to be best prepared for your mission trip and how to take the pressure off of packing your suitcase for a new culture, climate and lifestyle. Our heart is to remove the anxiety and focus from timeless questions like: “How much is too much?” and give you a few tips that we’ve learned throughout the years. Ultimately, we pray that these posts would be a resource for you as you prepare for your trip. We want to provide you with a few tools that can help you as you prepare for your trip of a lifetime.
Check Out The Other Posts In Our Packing and Style Series: