Where have we gone? Bolivia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Panama. Guatemala, South Africa, Galapagos Islands and San Blas Islands.
Who do we take?
- Teen guys and girls, who love God and want to make a difference, get out of their comfort zone and share their faith.
- Adults who love teens and are willing to invest their lives into students for two weeks.
- Medical staff. We need nurses, physicians, EMTs, P.A.s, people who are qualified to keep us healthy for two weeks.
- Counseling staff. We also need a couple of professional counselors who love students and are willing to listen, provide spiritual advice and give students a plan of action when needed.
- Senior pastors and youth pastors who love students and who are serious about helping others.
What age does a student need to be?
- We ask that all participants be at least 13 years of age—or bring an adult with them. For example, we’ve had some families participate who bring their teens and younger siblings.
- We use COLLEGE STUDENTS as assistant leaders.
How do we spread the Gospel? We bring in a professional drama training team from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who train the students before leaving the United States. We train in Miami and learn a 22-minute pantomime called “Toymaker & Son.” This mime is set to Spanish narration and musical background, so no one has to learn a foreign language to perform the drama. Each team has their own portable, battery-operated sound system they take with them each day on ministry. This allows them to perform the drama anywhere imaginable. But we give each team designated places to minister each morning when they leave on their bus.
Is it safe? There’s always a risk in international travel, but we serve a GIANT God who has always kept us from danger. Of course, safety is our top priority, and we go overboard to make sure things are extremely safe. For example, we don’t use public transportation. Instead, we charter our own buses.
Students aren’t allowed to go anywhere without an adult. And our adult/student ratio is usually one adult per six students. We stay at higher end hotels because of the safety factor (usually a gated area), and because we need a place big enough to accommodate our large group (at least 200 each summer), feed us quickly, has a ballroom big enough for us to have our own evening services, and a parking lot large enough to accommodate a fleet of chartered buses each morning.
What about communication? We either use the hotel’s internet café or set up our own if necessary. This way student can be in daily contact with their parents. We also provide parents the phone numbers of our hotel in Miami during training time—as well as the international hotel we stay in during the trip internationally.
Why “Never the Same”? Because, truly, you are NEVER THE SAME after participating on one of these trips! It’s like no other missions experience you’ll ever have. In fact, it’s a great mixture of adventure, missions, old-fashioned revival and church camp.
Each student is placed on a team of about 30. This team becomes a closely-knit family for two weeks. Each morning the team has breakfast and devotions together, spend the day ministering together, and then return to the hotel for dinner together.
After dinner everyone meets together for our evening service that we call FUAGNEM: Fired Up And Going Nuts Every Minute! Susie Shellenberger (and other special speakers) bring a message to the group, testimonies are shared, students engage in praise and worship and lives are truly changed.
Why is missions important? It’s extremely easy for students to become involved in their own world and forget that Christianity is bigger than their youth group or their church. A missions trip enlarges their world view, it places them in a situation where it’s easy to hear God’s call toward missions, and it deepens their dependence on Christ because they’re out of their comfort zone.
When a student leads someone to Christ, it’s an automatic confidence booster! There’s nothing bigger or more important than leading someone into the throne room of heaven. Also, by getting students away from familiarity, they have a greater opportunity to rearrange priorities, discern God’s voice and draw into deeper intimacy with Him.
When students are faced with true poverty and see families living in a cardboard box, see children who have no idea where their next meal will come from, it’s likely they’ll return home and never again complain about what Mom has prepared for dinner or not having the right labels on their clothing.
Check out this video to get an idea what the trip is like!