[Editor’s note: P2C-Students offers opportunities for young adults to go on mission trips nationally and internationally. We want all people to experience God’s heart for the world. This blog series is one way to discover more about the what, how, and why of #globalmissions.

This article was written by Dave, a member of our global missions team. Originally from Ontario, Dave lives in Montreal where he is part of P2C-Students. He loves opportunities to be in nature, especially when there are amazing views and chances to be near water.]

What’s the value of a short-term mission trip?

To describe something as “life-changing” can sometimes elicit eye rolls. But for many who take part in mission trips with Power to Change – Students (and other organizations), six weeks—or even just one week—can be transformative. 

Of course the focus of a mission trip is usually to share Jesus’ good news with others. But the experience of living in community, learning about cultures, and talking about the gospel daily has a profound effect on participants too. This article is about their transformation, which is often long-lasting. 

If you’d like to read about how locals in our partnership areas have been recently encountering Jesus, check out “God, what in the world are you doing?” 

As you talk to past mission trip participants, they can easily recount for you the ways in which they are different because they had the opportunity to go and take part in God’s global mission. Let’s check out what four of them have to say.

Seeing God and others more clearly

Leslie has participated in five P2C-Student mission trips: summer trips to Peru and to Desert Rain, a reading week trip to St. Clair College, and two P2C-Student summer digital mission trips. Now in her final year of studies in psychology, she reflects on these experiences: 

I have learned that the nations are unique and beautiful, revealing values important to God such as hospitality or passion, yet most people are missing the thing that matters most: knowing God. I learned how deeply he cares for these people, whether they see it or not. 

I also learned that I cannot do anything on my own apart from God, and that I can’t control people’s responses to the gospel. On every trip I have been reminded of God’s power.

Other students also report learning to see God and others more clearly. Kay went to East Asia in 2016 and then again two years later as a summer intern. She graduated from Carleton University and currently works for the federal government. 

Looking back, I see that the Lord taught me humility in ministry. I wouldn’t be able to get to know the local people, learn how best to serve them, or see what the Lord was already doing in their lives if I didn’t listen to them first and patiently earn their trust. 

I learned to trust in God’s sovereignty and to rely on him, which meant I could be confident in his work and in the interactions I had with people.

Knowing God in weakness

Indeed, many students shared about how being on a mission trip deepened their dependence on God, as they realized that God is faithful to help them through challenges. 

Kay was especially encouraged by how her struggles became a bridge, rather than a barrier: 

I was going through a difficult time in my personal life during my second trip to East Asia, but I persevered. Halfway around the world and on a campus full of thousands of students, God brought me to a girl who was going through the exact same struggle as me. I had the opportunity to comfort her with the same scriptures that brought me comfort. It was amazing to see the power of God’s Word and the beginning of her faith journey.

As a student, Jack participated in two reading week trips to Montreal and served as an intern during the Paris mission trip. As he considers the impact of those trips on his life now—a life in Toronto, in the finance and music industries—he shares this: 

During those trips, I saw first-hand how powerful God is, and how important prayer can be. There were many situations that seemed impossible to overcome during these trips, whether it be evangelism, communication, or logistics. Our God is big and nothing is impossible with him. This really deepened my faith and trust in him! 

During those trips, I saw first-hand how powerful God is, and how important prayer can be.

Alex, an alum of Western University, went once to East Asia and twice to Montreal, and now works in the United States in business. He shares,

The biggest challenge that I faced was mustering up the courage to talk to students during my first trip to Montreal. I was deathly afraid of rejection or the conversation becoming awkward. God gave me courage by telling me that ultimately it is his responsibility to bring people to Christ and I just have to step out in obedience as a faithful witness.

As mission trip participants work through these challenges with God, they are prepared to take new steps of faith. Alex continues, 

A large part of why I decided to go on the six-week mission trip to East Asia is because of the confidence I gained and lessons learned during the reading week trips in Montreal. I learned that in a different cultural context, with some adaptation, I would be able to serve God in a similar way anywhere in the world.

A new passion for international students

“Anywhere in the world” includes serving in Canada. Alex recalls 

After East Asia, I gained a new passion for international student ministry back on my home campus. I asked myself, “Instead of going to the world, why don’t I let the world come to me and minister to the East Asia students who are right here?” I encouraged my campus fellowship to have the same passion for international students by telling them about my experiences and planning events geared toward international students.

I asked myself, “Instead of going to the world, why don’t I let the world come to me?”

Kay and Leslie also got involved with serving international students when they returned to Canada. Leslie shares this story:

My P2C-Students’ group hosted an event where we had buses bring international students to our local arena to watch a hockey match. While I was there, I began chatting with a group of guys and I felt compelled to invite them to a board games night. I wasn’t sure if they would come, but they showed up! 

At the end of the night one of them told me that it was the first time he had been invited into someone’s home. He was so grateful to us for showing him real Canadian living. This filled me with joy, but also made me sad because I realized that these students long to experience life with us, but rarely get invited. 

In my first year of university, I didn’t think twice about international students, but now I want them to feel loved and known. I want to eat meals with them, learn from them, and show them Christ’s love, looking for opportunities to share the gospel. Maybe one day they will go back to their home country and show it to their family and friends too! 

As Leslie noted, caring for internationals in Canada is an opportunity to continue bringing the gospel to all nations. And Kay points out that even from afar, she can continue to be involved in what God is doing in East Asia: 

I have stayed in touch with my friends online, to continue those friendships and to see how the Lord continues to work in their lives. I’ve also had several Canadian friends go on missions around the world and am grateful for the chance to support them.

Without mission trips, so many of these relationships, at home or abroad, would never exist. 

A greater sense of purpose

As these travellers settle and look to the future, they can already see how their mission trip experiences will shape their life choices. Kay shares, 

Doing a short-term mission showed me the importance of long-term discipleship. This actually led me to seek out and get plugged into a church that is actively seeking to fulfill the Great Commission.

Wanting to live with purpose extends into the workplace too. Alex comments, 

I realized that every Christian is called to missions in some way, whether it’s at home or abroad, in vocational ministry or in the working world. I decided that my pursuit of a career in business would not be for my own desires, but instead would be driven by a desire to glorify God through my career. 

Every day at work and outside of work, I still try to live out the things I learned during my mission trips. I strive to build relationships with others where they can see and hear about the love of God. 

Even if I am not called to be sent on more mission trips at this point, I am committed to obey God’s call to participate in missions by supporting that work in whatever way I can.

Every day at work and outside of work, I still try to live out the things I learned during my mission trips.

For some, a short-term mission trip can inspire long-term missional activity. Jack recalls,

After coming home, I was looking for an answer to a tough question about Christianity that one of my friends had brought up. When I searched online for answers in English, I found ample resources. However, when I looked for French resources, I found hundreds of results from atheist websites, all saying that Christianity was untrue. I thought to myself, “If I were a Francophone, my journey to Christianty would have been more of an uphill battle.” 

This has driven me to create a French-language apologetics website. At the moment, this ministry has allowed me to reach and interact with people from all around the world, from Africa to France to Quebec, who are looking for resources about Christianity in their language.

As for the future, I have very much felt God putting it on my heart to further engage in missions in French. I want to continue witnessing in areas where there are so few Christians, either in a working or ministry context.

How will you be impacted?

These four people went on mission trips knowing that they would serve people elsewhere, but in the process, God did great work in their own lives. Their deepened dependence on him, their new excitement for ministry in Canada, and their greater sense of purpose will ripple through the rest of their lives and in the lives of those around them. 

Maybe God is calling you to participate in a mission trip next year. If you do, we can’t promise exactly how you’ll be impacted, but we know that God is the one who changes hearts and lives. Consider coming with us as we prayerfully plan mission trip opportunities for 2022 and beyond.

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