Written by Guest Contributor, Marie West, who heads up mission trips for Bridging the Gap.

I have always wanted to go on a mission trip. Have you ever said that?

Except for a family vacation in Canada when I was five, I had never left the USA until I was 40 years old. That year I spent a week painting an orphanage in South America. That trip changed my life! I am of the opinion that everyone should go on a mission trip in their lifetime. Here are some reasons why:

  1. You’ll expand your global view: Life is different in other parts of the world. Different cultures solve problems and see opportunities in ways that you just wouldn’t even think about. For instance, here in America we all do that weekly chore of taking our trash out to the street. If as an American you were living in a third world culture, taking your own garbage out is looked upon as being selfish. You should hire someone to do that! By doing it yourself, you are taking a job away from someone who desperately needs it. Here in America, we carry our own trays and dispose of our fast food trash at the mall’s food court. Elsewhere those service jobs are someone’s livelihood. A mission trip will cause you to think, “I never thought of that before.”

  1. Compassion for the poor and injustices of the world grows: When you see first hand what some people have to go through just to get water, it is an eye opener for sure. To see children searching through garbage piles for food is a picture you will never forget. Walking down the street with a child who has previously been sexually molested changes the very fiber of your being. A mission trip will cause you to ask, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about that?”

  1. You will see missions and missionaries differently: Maybe you have seen those old Tarzan movies where the missionary, wearing a pith helmet, slashes through the jungle with a machete, loses half his helpers to lions and quicksand only to reach a tribe where angry men have spears pointed at them and shrunken heads are stuck on top of poles outside of their huts. Todays missionary is most likely wearing jeans, armed with a smartphone, and maneuvering through traffic. They are meeting at coffee shops and discipling new believers, who very well maybe under persecution. They then come upon government buildings with long lines and administrators wielding extra paperwork, demanding bribes, and denying visa approvals. A mission trip will get you to start wondering, “How can I help them?”

  1. You start seeing giving differently: The things you have laying around the house and in storage suddenly seem not so important anymore, and you realize they could be better put to use elsewhere. Instead of spending your money at a coffee shop chain you homebrew fair trade coffee that supports a ministry. You may intentionally buy handmade jewelry from a woman who had been rescued from human trafficking. You will end up supporting youth group mission trip fundraisers because you realize the impact a mission trip will have on them. A mission trip will get you to start planning, “Who should I help next

  1. It will build your faith: Seeing people respond to the gospel builds your faith. Seeing doors of opportunity in ministry can confirm a call to missions. Sharing your testimony when you return home naturally allows you to talk about the Lord. Where before you may have been timid in sharing your faith, now you cannot stop talking about it. A mission trip will get you to start understanding, “People here are the same as people over there; We all just need Jesus.”

Click here for more information about how you can go on a mission trip with Bridging the Gap.