Phillip Slaughter, BCM campus minister at the University of Arkansas in Monticello, has been on a few spring break mission trips–eight to be exact. It’s a sacrifice other people notice.
“You hear some students say to the other students, ‘Oh, Wow! You spent your time serving God. I spent mine at the beach.’ There’s something spiritual about knowing you have one week free from school, and you’re deciding to sacrifice free time to serve God.”
To him, short-term mission trips are hard work, but fun. And they don’t just happen automatically.
”Spring breaks can be challenging for those who are planning them; there’s the difficulty of looking ahead not knowing what all challenges there are in the future. It’s hard to prepare for the unknown.”
Once he’s secured the place (proximity matters/the closer the better), student briefing is necessary. What’s the culture like? What do the students need to know? “Prepare students ahead of time. Make sure they have information in their hands so they know where they’re going, what to pack and what time to be there.”
Checklists help. “The Arkansas Baptist State Convention has a checklist that I especially used when I was first new at my job.” It has everything from insurance forms to packing lists.
As for the trip itself, attitude adjustments might be necessary. “Anytime you have a group of diverse students with diverse interests and with unique characteristics, it can be difficult when you’re traveling together.”
1) Be flexible
2) Don’t Complain
3) Put God and others before yourself
Finally, pray. “I can tell the difference between trips where we’ve been praying a lot in preparation and trips where we did not spend a lot of time in prayer–maybe just praying quickly about logistics.”