Q & R: mission trip

Here’s the Q:

My name is xx I’m 25 and live in xx I am
contacting you because you have inspired me and had an influence on my life.
I work for [a youth ministry] and I’d like your advice and wisdom.
Last summer we ran a pilot trip to [east africa] for 12 young people (aged 15 –
22) and we took a ‘manageable group’! The dream though is to take youth that
we work with most of the time, which in our case are young people who live
in disadvantaged areas, struggle at school (or are excluded), are at risk of
youth offending and so on. All that said they have plenty of good about
them. It is my belief that the process of going on such a trip to volunteer
in a different community and be given responsibility and experience Tanzania
culture, beauty, gratitude, generosity and faith will have a real impact on
them. I knew it would be a roller coaster ride with this group of young
people and it certainly has been so far (since September) and the trip isn’t
till next July.
I really just wanted to ask you two things – one if you
could offer a prayer for the group and the vision and secondly if you have
words of wisdom when pursuing a dream that has lots of barriers along the
way. Thank you so much.

Here’s the R:

Thanks for this note. You are in my prayers today, and I know many readers of this blog will join me. I can only offer this one “word of wisdom” – God’s work in your team will be as important as God’s work through them. If some of your young adults become lifelong advocates for Africa (and for social justice and compassion) through this experience – the long-term impact will be multiplied. So I pray you’ll be a wonderful example and leader for these young people, who are blessed to have you as their leader!
A quick story. Nearly a year ago I was invited to one of the most beautiful worship services I can remember, led by a wonderful Methodist pastor (you can learn more here and here). It was held outdoors so homeless folks could have a time of worship including a meal. At the service, they announced that the week before they had taken an offering for earthquake survivors in Haiti and had raised a significant sum – from homeless people. You should have heard the shouts and celebration! They were given the dignity not just of being receivers but of being givers. I have a feeling your team will gain a similar experience. God bless you!