Lutheran High School has been involved in missions trips for many years now, involving students, parents, and faculty in reaching larger communities and the whole world with God’s message of service and Christ-like love. For instance, our school runs annual trips to locations such as Mexico and Alaska. We also partner with ministries such as Touching Africa Ministries and Oceans Ministries so students can experience serving in Africa. We’re always open to adding more mission experiences and are considering another stateside outreach such as a Native American reservation in South Dakota.
But what really drives our ministry efforts? Why do we continue to invest so much time, effort, and funding into annual trips nationally and abroad?
Opportunity to Minister
Foremost, and the reason that leaps to most people’s minds, is the service opportunity missions trips provide. Of course, our aim is to minister to the people and communities we visit, whether by helping with construction projects, bringing goods that aren’t otherwise available, performing labor in schools, orphanages, and churches, or simply helping out with local service initiatives, worship, and outreach. Students have the chance to demonstrate God’s love to those in need in a real and impactful manner.
Opportunity to Learn and Grow
Students (and their parents) have an unparalleled chance to discover more about their world and break free from cultural and communal “bubbles” that can limit their understanding of and empathy for people other than themselves. Students are exposed to levels of poverty and hardship in stark ways, and it becomes incredibly real to them as they see actual people living in circumstances that stand in sharp contrast to their lifestyles back home. Those on mission trips also can gain a greater respect for unique cultures and worldviews, which can help them grow and mature in ways no classroom can ever duplicate.
Plus, when students witness vibrant and strong faith being exhibited in dark or difficult situations, it can deepen their own walk with God as they recognize His goodness spreads across all cultures or economic situations.
Opportunity to Connect
When our faith is based on a relationship with an eternal and loving God, then it makes sense that ministering in His name should be relational as well. A mission trip is a short experience, and the help we can give people during them is limited. But each trip is a chance to engage with other believers around the world and establish relationships with those in need that can last for years to come.
Our hope is that these relationships don’t end when the students return, but that they find ways to keep the connections active and perhaps even commit to long-term support of the churches, organizations, and communities they get in touch with during those initial trips. A good way students and families can determine if they feel called to serve a particular people group or region is to really get “in the trenches” with the ministries already established there.
Not to mention that students can nurture deeper relationships with each other and their parents who go on the trips with them, helping them stay more engaged when they’re home. Few things can help bring more substance to relationships with family and friends than serving God together!
Inspiring Lifelong Change Abroad – And At Home
At its core, Lutheran High School believes that we are called to minister to those in need wherever we are. Mission trips are a wonderful way to serve on the international stage, but we also want these trips to help students act out their faith right where they are at home and in school. As our principal, Mr Ness, always says, “See a need, fill a need.” This is the attitude of a servant leader.
Students come home with a different perspective of the people and needs around them. Our prayer is that they are not only happy to have running water and an XBox but that they understand those are not the things that make up a full life. They see their daily routines with new eyes, and can begin to gain a clearer vision of what God might be calling them to do in life.
Whether a student gets involved in ongoing missions or not, these trips still serve as springboards for growth and development on many mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. They can be the catalyst for positive change in a person’s faith, in their friendships, in their families, and in the purpose they find in their lives as they draw nearer to God through the experience.