Ever tried on snazzy red sweater only to find it makes you look like a tomato? Or discovered that you actually love your cousin’s boring hand-me-downs?
Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way we expect.
It’s why clothing stores provide fitting rooms, colleges arrange campus visits and employers conduct interviews. And it’s why TEAM offers vision trips.
A vision trip is a short-term experience designed to help globally-minded Christians explore life on the mission field. Participants travel to see ministries up close, encounter a new culture and spend quality time with current missionaries.
To go on a vision trip, you don’t have to be certain God is calling you to cross-cultural missions. You just have to be willing to ask if he is.
A vision trip is not a short-term mission trip.
On the surface, a vision trip might look and sound like a short-term mission trip. However, a vision trip’s unique purpose distinguishes it as an important tool in exploring a life of cross-cultural ministry.
A short-term mission trip is for people who know God has called them to serve for a short time. On a mission trip, you dive right into a more specific ministry role and participate as fully as possible in the life of the community there.
Vision trips, on the other hand, are designed to help anyone who is exploring a call to missions experience what it would be like to actually be a missionary for a longer term.
Over 10-14 days, you get a feel for it’s like to live and minister in a foreign context as you interact with a new culture, language and people. You’ll take local transportation, taste new foods, ask missionaries candid questions and attend ministry events.
Each team of four to six participants is lead by a missions mobilizer, who is there to help you process your questions, concerns and excitements as they surface.
A vision trip helps you discern how and if you are called to cross-cultural missions.
When Kayla took a vision trip to the Middle East last summer, she had a strong sense that God was calling her to missions. But with a Physical Education degree, she struggled to see how her skills would specifically fit on the mission field.
While in the Middle East, Kayla learned about job opportunities she could pursue for ministry such as teaching at a health center or physical training.
She met with local missionaries and their ministry partners and was inspired by the impact she saw they were having in a region with very few Christians. Gaining this context helped Kayla to clearly imagine how she could contribute to the Gospel ministry there, too.
Kayla also got a sense of what a daily routine could be like living in the Middle East. She dressed modestly, visited local markets and malls, ate cultural cuisine and took local transportation. These cultural experiences — some easy and some difficult to adapt to — gave Kayla the insight she needs to fully “count the cost” of serving in a Middle Eastern context.
Ultimately, Kayla’s experience illuminated her desire to move forward in pursuing a long-term missionary service. But, a successful vision trip could be going and understanding that you are not called to go overseas yet or at all.
For example, maybe through working with international students in Spain, you are led to return home to teach ESL in your city. Or maybe through a trip to Mexico, you experience a connection to the culture and ministry there, and return next summer for a short-term mission trip.
Whether God is calling you to go or send, a vision trip will help you discern how God is calling to participate in the Great Commission.