Mexico (MNN) — What is a mission trip?
For some, it’s an opportunity to bless needy people. For others, it’s a time to be blessed.
MOSES Inc. (Making Ourselves Equipped Servants) is getting ready for a trip to Ensenada, Mexico this July.
Judy VanderArk, founder and executive director of MOSES Inc., says, “We believe that our mission is really two-fold. First of all, we have a primary mission to those that we take along with us in the van because we are changing lives of not just teenagers, but adults as well as they go out and see the places that we serve.”
The second part of the mission trip, ministering to the churches in Mexico, is what allows the first part to happen.
VanderArk explains, “The people that we take with us see the strong faith of many of the people in the little churches that we go to serve, and they see the extreme poverty, and yet they see the strength of their faith. And so, they kind of gain a new worldview.
“It’s not focused on the material things that they have back at home, but they see people that have a shortage of food, shelter, medical care, and somehow the things that they have back at home become less important to them.”
The reality of what life is for other people hits hard and highlights the things of life that matter. “They come back with a greater sense of people around the world and the needs that they have and the faith that we can share together,” VanderArk says.
MOSES doesn’t always observe how those that go with them are impacted. But often, they hear stories down the road, of lives forever changed.
However, VanderArk points out that this change doesn’t stop at the individual. Because of their strengthened faith, the individual raises a family in a healthy atmosphere of faith.
“That kind of thing just warms my heart when I see how these young people have grown up with a desire to commit not just part of their life to Jesus Christ but their entire life,” VanderArk says.
When asked if these kids take the passion for sharing the Gospel back to their day-to-day life, VanderArk says, “I believe many of them do. I think it shows up in their behavior at school and in their communities.”
She explains that it can be a difficult thing to do for those attending a public high school, but that their willingness to share the Gospel and live it out is evident to their peers and family.
The trip to Mexico is a peer-led experience. This means that the adults who go along act as chaperones, and teenagers orchestrate the trip. VanderArk says MOSES uses this method because teenagers are more receptive to other teens. “They become close to these other young people on the trip, and they have credibility with them in a way that adults often don’t have.”
MOSES has a training session a week before their teams go down to Ensenada. The training is for church leaders who want their congregations to institute VBS–the program with which members of this team will be involved.
This teacher training program is attended by 400 individuals representing 125 churches in the greater Ensenada area.
After learning, the teachers replicate the lessons so that kids benefit from them all year round.
“We have heard that the materials that we produce for the Vacation Bible School each year reach an approximate 10,000 children miles and miles away from Ensenada,” VanderArk shares.
The primary pastor MOSES works with came to faith through the VBS ministry when he was younger.
The lessons are created in the states, but volunteers from Mexico are the ones who teach the children. The VBS mission in Mexico is becoming increasingly self-sustaining.
“We’re working ourselves out of a job, so to speak,” says VanderArk.
“Our skills are inadequate for doing the teaching of the Bible lessons and leading the children to Christ. But now that we’ve been able to kind of get the ball rolling with the church leaders that are already there, we’re seeing this just take off.”
There is still room for July’s trip to Ensenada, which leaves on the 8th. Teams will build a couple of mall houses and assist the VBS teaching in many churches.
“We have very few qualifications: we just say a willing heart and a willingness to respect our rules and our leadership,” VanderArk says. “Having a commitment to Jesus Christ is strangely enough not a requirement to go on this trip.”
“We welcome people that are seeking, searching in their faith to learn more about Christ as they go out and serve.”
Not only is this trip an opportunity to strengthen the faith of others, it is a chance to cement yours.
If you’re interested, sign up for the trip here.
Look for more information on a family-oriented trip to Toronto coming up in late November.