When you encourage your high school youth group to visit a foreign country to serve others, you are encouraging them to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and fulfilling Jesus’ command.
A youth group that serves others is a model of the type of person Jesus asks each one of us to be. Jesus taught us that we are to serve our brothers, sisters, enemies, foreigners, the poor, and the needy. When kids have the chance to volunteer and serve, they are learning this command to serve.
An international missions trip can be a powerful opportunity for youth to get away from the pressures of daily life, and possibly even rekindle their relationship with the Lord. They can be encouraged to leave their cell phones, tablets, and laptops at home, and use their down time to journal, read, and spend time in prayer. The daily lives of teens are busy, making it hard for teens to find adequate, quiet time for prayer. When they are on a mission trip quiet time is built into their schedule.
International mission trips are a great opportunity for youth to have fellowship with each other. Many youth groups will naturally want to encourage each other, pray together, discuss spiritual struggles, and share life with each other. These interactions between fellow Christians are important for our faith and are a great way to foster healthy, long lasting relationships.
Teens can have a huge influence on those around them. When young people go out of their way to serve as a group, this has an impact on the surrounding community that sees and hears about these things that are being done in the name of the Lord. Maybe even one young person will overhear members of your youth group talking about their mission trip experience, and be interested to join on the next one. The positive example that your youth group promotes, could impact other young hearts to serve the Lord as well.
Visiting foreign countries can be a huge eye opener for young people. They may see things that will give them an entire new perspective. By walking around as a minority in a strange country, they will develop a sense of empathy that they may have never had before. And by witnessing firsthand the way that other cultures live, your youth group will likely return to their homes more grateful for things they may have taken for granted their whole life.
Sometimes mission trips turn out to be life changing events for teenagers that experience something they had never felt before. The trip may have the effect of influencing future decisions, such as area of study, career opportunities, adult lifestyle, family lifestyle, and even life-long goals.
Many young people have never left their own country, and may even have fears that prevent them from experiencing new things. Teens can feel uncomfortable leaving their home for long periods of time and stepping out of their comfort zone. Even if there are not fears, some are just “comfortable” with their day to day life and have not been motivation to do new or meaningful things. A international mission trip can encourage kids to leave their comfort zones and step into an experience that will challenge their mentality.
International mission trips can also be used as educational tools to teach about other cultures, languages, history, and political awareness. By visiting another country, your youth group may want to study up on the language to be able to communicate with locals. If they do any sight seeing, they can learn about the history and background of the area. And when comparing the operations of a foreign government to their own government, students will develop a new sense of awareness about political practices.
As your youth group is asked to begin fundraising and thinking of ideas for how to raise money for their trip, they will be pushed to be resourceful and creative. The lessons learned from fundraising their own money can be lifelong teaching that can foster generosity, motivation, hard work, responsibility, and stewardship.