I recently returned from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with an organization that works with disadvantaged children. It was an amazing time to join where God is working and to see how my church can partner with them. This got me thinking about the greater reasons why churches should be participating in overseas missions.

Before Jesus ascended to the Father, he left his disciples with the words of the Great Commission, charging them to continue in the work he had begun. They, as his ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20), lived to carry out the vision Jesus had cast for the church: “You [are] my witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 ESV) and “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19 ESV). The command for the church was and is simple: continue the work Jesus started by telling the world the good news of the kingdom. So, what are some benefits of short-term mission trips?

In visiting other countries you have a better understanding of life there.

You realize that other countries and cultures are different. That other people have different ways of looking at life and doing things.

Visiting other countries gives you a better idea of peoples universal needs. You find out that people, though they may look different, are the same all over the world. They have the same feelings, hopes, and desires -- they are human just like you are.

More oriented to outreach when you return home, because of doing it there. People are usually more inhibited around those they know. When they travel to a distant place where no one knows them, they can more easily overcome those inhibitions. Once you realize you can witness, and pray for people there, it is easier to continue doing it when you return home.

A greater commitment to Christ and his plan. Doing work for God, and seeing results, is like starting a fire. It is natural for it to continue and grow larger. Once you get a taste of it, you want more.

Advancement of the Kingdom of God. Lives are changed to Christ, churches are strengthened, pastors and missionaries are encouraged, by those taking short-term mission trips.

Even if you were mainly helping build a church building, or supporting others in an evangelical thrust, you still were making a difference in the kingdom of God.

Short-term trips are essential to the life of the church, the spread of the gospel, and the discipleship of individuals. For many, participation in short-term trips is their first exposure to cross-cultural evangelism, providing a firsthand picture of what mission work looks like while also exposing individuals to the global need of the gospel. Often, God uses these trips to lead believers to commit to long-term missions. Trips cast a bold and personal vision of global missions, stirring in many a passion for evangelism that might not have been there before.

Engaging in these trips can alter perspectives and change lives, exposing believers to the unreached and personalizing the desperate need of the lost.