Yes! Mission Trips Can Be Reversible!
When you think of a mission trip involving Latin America, a few things may pop in your head. Perhaps it’s a remote dusty village or a dirty, low-income neighborhood in a third world city. But one thing is almost certain—you picture “us” going to help “them.” Some stateside church group hops on a plane to go lend a helping hand and share the gospel.
This summer, CMI helped organize a mission trip involving Latin America. Plans were made. Prayers were offered. Bags were packed. And plane tickets were bought.
But the flight originated from Quito, Ecuador. It carried 18 youth and 6 adult leaders from Puembo Church to Chicago. There, they met up with the youth from Fairhaven Church coming from Dayton, Ohio.
We asked Daniela, a youth leader from Puembo Church to share about their experience.
We started talking with our friends from Fairhaven Church. We knew we wanted to get both of our youth groups serving together again. That’s when they told us about Family Empowerment Center (FEC) in Chicago. FEC brings youth in for mission and training each summer. We met up with close to 30 youth and leaders from Fairhaven on the north side of Chicago where FEC ministers to a diverse urban community with 40+ languages spoken in a 2-square mile area.
From the outset, I knew this trip was different. It was clear the Lord was going to work through the missionaries and in the missionaries at the same time.
First, FEC had our youth do a prayer walk through the neighborhood…barefoot. Returning to the FEC building, our two youth groups were tired and ready to get cleaned up. Instead, they circled up, washed each other’s feet, and prayed for each other. It was such a powerful moment.
This was not what any of us expected. Mission trips are where you build something or paint something. You have a finished product at the end to look back on and say, “Well done.” We came to Chicago assuming we were doing the mission. Instead, the FEC family were performing the mission on us. This was a Reverse Mission Trip.
The biggest impact was what each student learned about listening to and following the Holy Spirit. Our kids learned to move beyond their comfort zones, pray out loud over people, with people, and for people. They were bold—listening to and relying on the Spirit.
These weren’t abstract lessons or Bible stories. Our kids learned the Holy Spirit is a real person. They learned He is talking to you! Prompting you to go! To go and do it!
The transformation was incredible. Our kids began the week scared, nervous, and unsure. By week’s end, they knew, “If the Spirit leads me to engage a stranger, He will empower me and go with me.”
While the trip ended, the impact didn’t. Leaders from both groups said, “Our kids came back with a passion to be missionaries at home, too.”