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5 Reasons To Go On A Mission Trip With Your Family

Stolpe family in Guatemala

Stolpe family in Guatemala

Early this month, our family traveled to Guatemala to serve the orphans and widows in and around the village of Santo Domingo Xenacoj.

Deciding to go in the first place was a pretty significant leap of faith.

  • As a father and husband, did I think we would be safe in a strange land removed from many of the luxuries we currently enjoy? 
  • Did I really want to spend my vacation time working instead of relaxing somewhere? 
  • How were we going to come up with the money necessary to make this trip a reality?

These were just some of the questions that troubled me for weeks as we processed this decision last fall.

Having arrived at the other side of this mission trip, I can tell you that we made it.  We were safe.  The vacation time from work was well spent.  And God provided the funds for this trip in ways that far exceeded our greatest expectations.

Putting the details and impact of this trip into words is challenging to say the least.

We fed 450 poor children.  We served 175 widows.

We ministered to several families in need.  And we helped missionaries as they searched out opportunities to expand their ministry in Guatemala.  There are many stories and interactions that continue to replay in our minds as we process this trip.  I know we had an impact on the people of Xenacoj.  And I know for certain that this trip had an impact on our family.

Since we’ve returned, we’ve been able to share with many about our trip.  We share some of these stories which we hope will inspire others to help out and to even consider taking a similar trip of their own.  With this in mind, I’d like to offer a few reasons for you to consider taking your family on a mission trip.

  1. A mission trip is an opportunity to live out the Great Commission as a family.  In Matthew 28, Jesus commands us to go into ALL the world baptizing and teaching.  Serving local to your home is obviously more convenient, and I’d recommend serving in your community as an important discipline for your family.  But a mission trip away from home is a great opportunity to “go into ALL the world.”
  2. A mission trip is a great opportunity to establish of pattern of serving for your family.  As parents, we play the most significant role in teaching our children and in helping them to create habits that will be useful for the future.  Our trip provided many openings for conversations about serving others, about the poor, and about how our lives will be different as we return from Guatemala.  Our kids are already talking about going back.  They want to serve.  This isn’t by accident.
  3. A mission trip is an incredible way for your family to see the world.  Our kids know the New Jersey Shore.  They know the mountains of Vermont.  And they’ve been to many places in the Eastern part of the United States.  Guatemala is far different than any place they have been before.  While we were in Guatemala, they saw active an active volcano and one of the world’s most beautiful lakes (Lake Atitlan).  These are experiences they will never forget.
  4. A mission trip opens your family’s eyes to the rest of the world.  Let’s face it.  Here in the United States, we live like kings and queens.  If you live in the U.S., you are among the most wealthy people in the whole world.  In Guatemala, our family saw how most of the world lives.  People live in homes with mud and dirt floors.  Five or six people sleep on a bed made of plywood the size of your kitchen table.  Walls and roofs are patched together with cornstalks and pieces of metal and cardboard.  Most people daily battle significant hunger pains.  And many do not have access to doctors, dentists, and medicines.
  5. A mission trip gives your family a heart for others.  I confess that I’m selfish and self-centered.  I’m more concerned with my wants than the needs of others.  This trip changed and challenged me.  Our family is praying for the people of Xenacoj on a regular basis.  We are figuring out ways that our family can continue to help.  And we are calculating a return, so we can wrap our arms around the necks of those we have come to love 2,000 miles from home.

Questions: Have you ever taken a mission trip with your family?  If so, how did it impact your family? What’s holding you back from going on a mission trip?

This is a guest post by Jon Stolpe who is passionate about small groups, missions, family, marriage, parenting, and Philadelphia sports.  Jon is also a writer and blogs daily at Jon Stolpe Stretched. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wonderful wife, Leanne, and their two kids.  Connect with him on TwitterFacebook or his blog.

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Comments

  1. Thanks, Tor! I appreciate the chance to share with your community.

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading about your trip this summer Jon. I haven’t been on a mission trip to another country and am excited about doing this. Our church encourages everyone to go within 3 years, and they have dozens of options every year.

    • That’s great! Our church offers several international options as well.

      Our family is planning to go back to Guatemala at some point. And I’ve been thinking about inviting a group of bloggers to go down with me sometime as well.

      An international missions trip will definitely impact your perspective on life.

  3. I haven’t ever taken a mission trip at all. I look forward to going on one sometime.

  4. Carol Peterson says:

    Very cool. And great reasons to go on a mission. Loved hearing about your thoughts.

  5. Scott Berry says:

    Jon – As I read your article, I was anxious to see what the game plan was when you returned home. I’m glad to see that your children are talking about returning to Guatemala! So many people go on a mission trip and talk about how it’s changed their lives, and how they have a new perspective on life in third-world countries — but it seems to end right there. There’s no follow through. I’d love to see more people make it a life-long goal of serving on the mission field, even if it’s short term. People wouldn’t need to go every year, just go regularly. In between trips, they need to communicate and share with others about what they did and saw — and SHOW how it changed their lives.

    I went on a trip to the Philippines nearly two years ago, and I can tell you that it made a major difference in my views of the world and where I fit in God’s plan. I’ve been back two times since then, and I’m preparing to go back in October to November. I currently unable to be a full-time missionary living in the Philippines, so I’ve become a hybrid missionary, working in the US, sending school supplies, books, and clothing every month or so, and then returning to spend 3 to 5 weeks a couple of times a year. I know not everyone can do that — that’s okay. But we need to continue doing what we can. The needs in those countries are many, and as you stated, we have so much and we don’t even realize it.

    Anyway,I didn’t mean to go on a lecture, but I guess it’s close to my heart, and it just comes out. Once again, I appreciated your article, and I agree completely with the your idea of family mission trips. Thank you.

    • Scott, I get that. Our family is still processing this since we’ve returned. This was actually my second trip to the same community. We have been captured by the people of Xenacoj (Guatemala). It will be interesting to see how it plays out for our family in the days, weeks, and years to come.

  6. Jon, I’ve been on three mission trips but none with my family. Interestingly enough, I was just talking again about this with my son tonight. I would love to take mission trip with him one day.

  7. Wow John – seeing your post updates, and now after your return – it’s fun to read what you’ve learned. Children and adults can learn a ton from serving others, and from seeing how others live.

  8. What a great experience for your family! I’m sure it’s one you’ll never regret and neither will the people you served!

    Yes, I’ve been on a few missions trips with my family, well I mean our life is sort of one big missions trip! There are many positives and I think in the long run it is very beneficial. There are also many dangers, and I don’t neccessarily mean physical dangers. It’s not a given that the kids will enjoy being in another country, I’ve seen children of career missionaries grow bitter. There is an added stress of dealing with a different culture and often a foriegn language that can sometimes make children respond negatively.

    All that being said parents who are careful to cultivate a good relationship with their children and also who provide a good example are bound to benefit from missions trips!

    • Yes, your story would be an interesting follow-up to this post. I’d love to know how your family has “adjusted” to being in the foreign missions field full time.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] posting as part of The Network for Tor Constantino at his blog, The Daily ReTort.  In my post (5 Reasons To Go On A Missions Trip With Your Family), I share some thoughts about faith, family, and missions.  Here’s an excerpt to get you [...]

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