Perhaps you are an experienced short-term missionary or you are considering your first overseas mission trip. Either way, we are excited that you are thinking about joining one of our trips and wanting to impact the lost for Jesus Christ! Most likely, your trip will change your life in some manner and expand your heart for the world!
We assume that part of your motivation is founded in your desire to be obedient to the Great Commission. But you need to ask yourself certain questions. “Why am I going?” Do you want to give God a week or two of your time to serve him, instead of yourself? Perhaps you have a heart for orphans, evangelism, or helping the poor. If so, this agency may be a good fit for you!
Our short-term mission trips involve orphanage work, construction projects, evangelism outreaches, and prayer trips. You do not have to be a skilled worker to join our organization. If you have a loving heart, profess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and come with a servant attitude, then we need you!
Don’t feel like you have to be a gifted carpenter to work on a construction project. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish with instruction and encouragement. Frequently, your presence and willingness to do the small things go a long way.
We want you to join us year after year. So it is important that you have a good trip experience. We encourage you to select the right trip for you. Review each trip carefully, pray about your selection, and see if you have peace in your heart that comes from the Lord. If this happens, then begin the process. It will be exciting to see how the Lord blesses your act of faith in stepping out.
Let me provide some insight on our evangelism and orphan projects. Be realistic about the depth of evangelism you will be able to do in Ukraine. Many people expect that their cross-cultural efforts will result in many conversions for Christ. Realistically, there may be a few conversions, but Europe is a very hard mission field today. Furthermore, the Ukrainian government is cracking down on Christian evangelism. There is still the ability to minister openly, but come realizing that your efforts are to build upon our existing ministries that keep going long after you are back home. In other words, you will be planting seeds which we will be watering throughout the year. Don’t expect dramatic results, even if that this happens, then praise God!
Before deciding which short-term mission trip you’ll go on, ask yourself these key questions to help select the right trip for you.
Questions to Ask Yourself
• Why are you going? What is your motivation?
• What type of experience are you looking for?
• Am I willing to be a servant and not seeking personal glory?
• Am I a good fit for this organization?
• Have I considered the pitfalls?
Pitfalls to Consider and How to Overcome Them
Just as the people who go on our trips are not perfect, so are the actual trips themselves. This is not a vacation, but a trip to a developing country, where anything can change at any given moment! That being said, your STM experience will be a good one if you remain flexible, attempt to understand the diversity of your teammates, and appreciate the fact that Ukrainian culture is different than yours.
Individuals going on a short-term mission trip can help themselves immensely by examining their own hearts, approaching a trip correctly, choosing wisely, and praying continually! Here are a few pitfalls common to STM and how you can overcome them:
PITFALL #1: THRILL SEEKING
There are some individuals who look for the “experience” rather than coming to serve as a humble servant. This personality type can often become disillusioned, disappointed, and cause negative spirit within the team atmosphere. Their destructive behavior can often leave other team members and Ukrainian nationals embittered.
Ways to Overcome
While there is a certain amount of adventure to your trip, it’s important that your focus remains on the task at hand. Check your heart and maintain a servant attitude.
In an effort to alleviate this problem beforehand, Slavic Christian Ministries will contact your pastoral referral. Without his or her favorable consent you may not be accepted as a missionary. Please remember that you are not approved for a trip until the application screening has been completed and you receive an approval email!
PITFALL #2: LACK OF PREPARATION
You may arrive with proper motives but we understand that in all likelihood you will have inadequate preparation. In the beginning you may experience a lack the cohesiveness that develops throughout the week. You may also lack cultural sensitivity and an awareness of your own ethnocentrism―which can offend others and give a negative impression to the Ukrainians.
Ways to Overcome
Each person should be prepared as much as possible before arriving on the field. You need to thoroughly research our website and complete all assigned tasks given to you by our ministry beforehand. For example, teams that work with orphans are expected to learn an assigned Vacation Bible School lesson before coming to Ukraine. You will be expected to teach and train other team members how to minister to the kids during your one-day assigned teaching.
Slavic Christian Ministries will also provide a day of training during your first day on the field. We will have team building projects, time for interaction with other team members, give basic information on Ukraine and your trip, and help in any other way to make this a safe and rewarding trip for you and the Ukrainians.
PITFALL #3: SELF FOCUS
Mission trips today are often used to bring about positive change in your life. We want that to happen for you too! But once again, check your heart – what is the motivation of your going?
Ways to Overcome
Remain focused on God and his purpose for the trip, rather than focusing only on you. Ask yourself, “Why are you going on this trip?” Although experiencing and serving in a different culture may be rich and rewarding, the ultimate goal for going is to express the love of Christ to a hurting and lost culture. Keep focused on the primary reason for your trip – to serve Jesus and to mirror Jesus to a viewing world. Think of others before yourself.
PITFALL #4: PROJECT SELECTION
Not all mission trips are the same. Make sure you decide the reason why you are going before choosing a trip. Orphan projects and evangelism projects are rich in cultural experience, but can be stressful at times because of the great emotional demands. Building projects are much easier emotionally, but have very little cultural interaction and limited time with Ukrainian nationals. Prayer trips have some cultural experience and interaction, but not as much as with our evangelism and orphan projects.
Ways to Overcome
To safeguard yourself, carefully evaluate your trip, you’re desired expectations, and what you are emotionally willing and able to give. Be honest with yourself and do your research on each trip. Determine your physical and emotional limitations.
PITFALL #5: DEPENDENCY
There is the possibility that you may get emotionally involved with the people you meet and build relationships with during your trip. Naturally, you may want to provide material blessings because of your huge heart. While you may not see this as a problem, it can cause extreme problems to the national leadership and our organization. It can cause division among the Ukrainians who don’t get anything and a sense of dependency upon those who do receive something from you. At the same time, some nationals may want to manipulate you in order to get more from you. This may be the hardest of the pitfalls to overcome because you are wanting to give out of a sense of love.
Way to Overcome
First and foremost, don’t trust your emotions! It is good to give, but we need to do it in appropriate ways. Preventing this pitfall is best accomplished by asking your team leader if it is alright to give to someone money or valuable assets while on the trip.
Slavic Christian Ministries will do the necessary research and discover if your generosity will be appropriate by analyzing each case by case request. If there are no foreseeable problems, then we would be happy to honor your request.
However, the best way, is to become a financial partner with our ministry and allow us to target projects in an appropriate manner. Trust us that our years of experience and vast network of relationships will accomplish your desired outcome in an appropriate way that honors Christ, protects you from manipulation, and deters Ukrainians from becoming dependent Americans in unhealthy ways.
I believe that you will have a successful, rewarding, and blessed trip if you follow these simple guidelines. We hope to hear from you soon! Ukraine needs you and our Lord needs you too!