A mission trip can be a life-changing experience. When you see the receptivity of the people to the Word of God and experience God using you to lead someone to salvation in Christ, you are never the same. A typical mission trip starts on a Saturday, which is a travel day to reach your destination. After being picked up at the airport and being transported to the hotel, there is a short orientation time to explain the ground rules of the week. On Sunday morning, the teams always attend one or more of the local churches in the area with one or more of the team members preaching the Sunday morning message.
In the mornings, from Monday to Friday, the teams either go to the central marketplace or downtown plaza or to one of the schools. Each morning, before the teams go out, they meet in the hotel for prayer and a short Bible devotional shared by a team member or one of the pastors in the host country. When the teams go to the plaza, a central preaching point is set up while some of the team members share the gospel one on one with people who are walking by or sitting down. Thousands of people move through the marketplaces and plazas each day in Latin America, as they are the heartbeat of most towns and cities. While most of the team is sharing one on one, the rest of the team sets up a sketch board and sound equipment to draw a crowd. Sometimes dramas are performed, sometimes Christian songs are sung and sometimes messages are painted on a sketch board; anything to draw a crowd so that the gospel can be preached to each group through a 15 – 20 minute message. An invitation to trust Christ is given at the end of each presentation and those who make professions of faith in Christ are counseled by national team members about their decision.
When the teams don’t go to the central market or plaza, they usually go to schools. One of the most exciting things about the MetroAmerica 020 area is that public schools are wide open to preach the gospel. Sometimes the teams share the gospel through a Christian movie or drama and preaching in the school auditorium, other times they share the gospel in the classrooms through music and preaching, and recently, we have been sharing the gospel through a talk on purity that leads into a gospel presentation. The most important part of the activity occurs after the presentation when the team shares Christ one on one with the students. We have seen tremendous results in the schools and want to continue to go through this wide open door.
After the morning activities, the groups are given 3 to 4 hours to eat lunch and rest. Some team members like to go out and evangelize during their rest time while others stay in to get much needed rest. Remember, the weather is warm or hot year round and you can get worn out if you don’t pace yourself.
In the afternoons and early evenings, from Sunday to Friday, the teams go out to neighborhoods where a new church is being started or where an existing church has a home bible study. The activity starts out with prayer and then each team member is paired with an interpreter, when necessary. Don’t worry if you can’t speak Spanish, an interpreter can help you. The teams go out and visit door to door to invite people to a Christian movie and more importantly to share the gospel one on one. Most people are excited to have someone come into their home and open the Bible and share about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some of the best contacts are made at this point of the activity. While teams are visiting door to door, a team stays behind to set up the sound and movie equipment.
Usually, at 6:30pm, a Christian movie is shown such as the Jesus movie, the Revolutionary (the life of Jesus), the Burning Hell, Future Tense (a movie about the rapture), or the Passion. At the end of the movie, the youth usually do an evangelistic drama such as the Redeemer or the Burden and the drama is immediately followed by a 10 minute preached invitation to trust Christ as Lord and Savior. As soon as the invitation is given, the children are separated from the youth and adults so that the children’s workers can share a message that the children can understand. At the same time, the teams go to the youth and adults to counsel those who have made professions of faith and share the gospel with those who have not. Many of the people pray to receive Christ at this point in the activity. This is my favorite part as it is such a joy to hear so many people talking about Jesus in such a small area. The neighborhoods are literally turned into holy ground as everyone who ventures nearby hears about Jesus.
After each of these activities, the name of the people who have made professions of faith are collected so that the local churches can follow-up and disciple the people who want to grow spiritually. Many of the people who have been saved in these activities are faithfully serving in local churches throughout El Salvador and Central America and some are even pastors or missionaries. The results have not only been wonderful in the lives of those who have been saved through the witness of the teams but also in the lives of the members of the teams. Many who have made short term mission trips have gone back to the States challenged to be more committed to God as a faithful witness where they live and many have ended up on the mission field. A mission trip can be a life changing experience!