Are you boarding a plane this summer with a team of youth and headed to Central America…or climbing on vans and headed to the inner city….or perhaps Appalachia? Good for you! As you look over your checklist for sunscreen, water bottle and other essentials, make sure you have made plans to take these people along with you:
1. Safety Sue: Sue is the perfect person for you to task with making sure you are following best practices for safety. It’s an awesome privilege to be trusted with the safety and care of another family’s child. Besides taking responsibility for minors, will you be driving? Flying? In an airport? In lodging away from home? On a roof? Using tools? Crossing a major road on foot? Crossing running water? If you are doing any of these things, you need to designate someone to take responsibility for thinking through your schedule with you. You need someone to help you and establish and communicate safety practices. Fortunately, Safety Sue loves doing that and can’t wait for you to ask for her help.
2. Treasurer Tim: Do you normally turn in receipts that went through the wash cycle in your jeans, are six weeks late and only cover half of your expenses? Quickly…before your church gives you the unsought opportunity to job-hunt, ask Treasurer Tim to come with you. He likes budgets. Tracking expenses is a game for him. He can organize receipts in his sleep, He can handle expenses and the group’s petty cash without attracting the IRS or losing his cool. While you are focusing on people, let Tim focus on money. He will love it. He might even keep up with your plane tickets and passports. Make Treasurer Tim your new best friend.
3. Nurse Ned or Doctor Dana: I’m sure you already collect everyone’s medicines on a trip so that others don’t have unauthorized access. But every single year the amount of kids and adults on meds increase. While you are in the middle of ministry, who is going to track and distribute all these meds at the required time? Who will make sure they are kept in a safe, secure, appropriate-temperature location? Who will have access to all the medical forms and keep leaders current on a need-to-know basis about medical situation and allergies that could put students especially at risk? You need Ned or Dana. Plus, they can help identify poison ivy, tell the difference between a sprain and a break, and make sure your first aid kits are stocked before you go. Nurse Ned or Doctor Dana is usually our first recruit once we decide where we are going on mission the following year.
4. “Momma” Matthews: Every group needs a mom. While everything else is going on, someone has to be focused on unconditional love and nurture for the group making everybody on the trip feel loved. Yeah, you need to do it too, but trust me. This is one place you need your momma along.
A mission trip is not only a chance to share the love of Christ in word and deed. It is more than an opportunity for our students to prepare for and practice incarnational cross-cultural and life-changing ministry. It is an opportunity for discipleship by allowing God’s people of all ages to use their gifts in the fulfilling of the Great Commission.