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What Mission Trips Mean to Us

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by EM Staff

The Experience Mission staff is made up of people who’ve always felt the call to GO. Whether in high school, as a young adult, or later in life, the idea of serving others in a cross-cultural setting grabbed hold of us and wouldn’t let go. It became a part of who we are—individually, and, of course, in the work we do every day, connecting volunteers to opportunities to serve and love others like Jesus.

We don’t all get regular opportunities to talk with people who are considering mission trips and share our heart for missions, so we thought we’d give a few EM staff members the chance now. Each EM team member below has spent years working and serving in missions, and they are passionate about what mission trips can do for all people involved!

Why mission trips matter

“I have participated in many mission trips throughout my life spanning high school, college, and parenthood. On my first venture, I was part of a skit group performing in a homeless shelter in an urban setting. I was incredibly self-conscious and desperate to get away. My second trip was at a deaf orphanage in a foreign land, and I began to feel a healthy tension between completing a mural painting project and just spending time with the kids. Every mission trip since then has deepened my love for every culture, my desire to learn, and my faith that God is at work everywhere and always.”

- Maricana Heemstra, EM Kids Club Coordinator

Why mission trips matter

“The more I learn about Jesus, the more I’m drawn to how He lived — in community with others on a mission to bring people to life. I believe short term missions can provide opportunities to live in this global community of the Body of Christ. Being willing to give up my resources to serve in uncomfortable places has opened my eyes to see that God is at work all around us. We aren't "bringing Jesus" somewhere. He is already there. We have the amazing opportunity to lock arms with people from around the world to bring hope to this broken world.”

- Autumn Zimmerman, EM Missions Program Director

Why mission trips matter

“Somehow, the world feels big and small at the same time. The more I've had the opportunity to travel and step into new cultures, new homes, new families — the more I am reminded of how we are all the same. Our fears and hopes are deeply connected, even across thousands of miles. Our stories are so similar, yet so unique. The largeness starts to feel intimate as we look at each other in the eye, stumbling through language barriers and trying new recipes around a wobbly kitchen table. My personal struggles feel so unimportant on the grand scale of war and injustice and poverty. I feel insignificant. But yet, I feel known and valued, like our lives were meant to overlap.”

- Heather Reynolds, EM Finance Director

Why mission trips matter

“For me, mission trips have always opened my eyes to how BIG God is. We do not have a small-minded God, but a creative, personal, relational God who desires to be in connection with his creation. God created us with different languages, cultures, values, skin colors, and without knowing people from other places (whether that place is down the street or across the ocean) then we can't even begin to know how big God really is. Mission trips make my scope of who God is bigger, and I get to be in a place of learning while serving others.”

- Kelsey Bennett, EM Latin America Community Coordinator

Why mission trips matter

“Over the years, I've been blessed with so many memories and experiences as a result of the opportunity I've had to lead mission trips with Experience Mission. I could never recount all of these experiences, but if I were to identify the essence of what makes mission trips powerful for me, it would be that they shake us up out of our normal routines and ways of viewing the world. There's something about building relationships with people in a different culture and context that forces us to rethink how we see God, ourselves and others and ultimately how we live our lives. The hope is that mission trips will open us up to greater love and acceptance for others, and I can say this has most certainly been the case for me.”

- Josh Gray, Co-Director of EM’s RISING program in Haiti

Are you open to what a mission trip might do for you and your group? Find your next trip today!


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