It is a noble cause to set out into the world with the aim to make it a better place. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” That scripture can be taken to heart and put into practice in the form of going on mission trips. But there are some simple truths about mission trips that few people like to admit.

Before you commit to serving others and thereby serving God by going on mission trips, please consider these points of view.

The Best Way to Help Others Isn’t By Doing For Them

As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

When you’re heading out on your next mission trip—or your first mission trip—keep in mind that the best way to have a sustainable impact on any community is not to do for them, but to do with them. The most meaningful change comes from a heartfelt exchange of ideas.   

Many Villages Have Been Around Longer Than The U.S.

Keep in mind, no matter where you go in the world, that their culture and traditions have likely been around much longer than the U.S. has been established as a nation. We have so much to give others as a country, but we also have a lot to learn from other cultures that have been around for centuries longer than we have.

Enter into any mission trip situation with a heart that’s full of respect and reverence, and you’ll likely be met with surprising wisdom and gratitude.

You Will Likely Be More Impacted Than They Will

You may only go for a week or two to help build a school or teach art classes to orphans, but that week will stick with you for a lifetime. The school may fall apart (hopefully to be refurbished before too long), and the art lessons may fade from their memory, but the impact that community had on you will last forever.

That impact will flow through you and speak out in your everyday actions and choices. If you let them, mission trips can be truly transformative experiences.