Each summer tens of thousands of families plan trips to sunny destinations in order to relax on the beach, squish sand between their toes, and get a tan. While there is nothing wrong with waves and sand castles, a growing number of families are choosing short-term mission trips for their next adventure.

Chances are good that your teen has already been a part of some type of missions effort whether at home or abroad. Serving others has been a hallmark value of youth groups during the last decade. Mission trips have allowed teens to see different cultures and make their lives a little less about themselves. Recently, organizations that have serviced youth groups in the past have begun providing missions opportunities for the whole family.

I believe sending our teens to serve on missions trip is a good thing. The life lessons, exposure to differing cultures, having their worldview challenged, and being used by God–these are all worthwhile reasons for doing teen mission. I just personally feel that an even better experience is doing all of this in the context of your family. I know the benefits of this from firsthand experience.Adventures in Missions provides week long trips for less than $400 per person to Matamoros, Mexico or New Orleans, where your family participates in Bible programs for community children and helps with light construction serving people who live in substandard housing. YouthWorks has some great trips to the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota for under $200 per person. Mustard Seeds and Mountaintops will give your family a unique experience in the Appalachian Mountains for $275 p/person.

For the past eight years our family has sponsored a little boy from Guatemala named Barselo. Each month we receive letters from him and we’ve sent him countless letters in reply. It has been great for our kids to learn to pray for someone else’s needs, read how life is like in a developing country, and grow to appreciate their owns lives even more. At the beginning of 2011 we decided to see if it would be possible to take our whole family to Guatemala to visit him and his family.

We spent months raising the necessary funds, getting all of our shots and papers, and praying as a family for what God might have in store for us. To say the experience was impactful on our whole family would be an understatement. To lay eyes on a little boy that I thought we would only ever know through letters was a blessing from the Lord. Words couldn’t express how it felt to be embraced by him. Through tearful eyes his mother kept repeating, “Thank you for loving my son. Thank you for blessing my family.” We could have gone to Disneyworld…and we have. We could have gone to the beach or mountains…and we’ve gone there before as well. But just for one summer we wanted a different family experience.

Perhaps you could consider taking your family vacation in a different direction this summer. It will be an experience you’ll never forget. The memories you make will be of your family serving Christ’s kingdom together.

Short-Term Missions Opportunities

Here are just a few of the organizations you can partner with to help your family plan a meaningful missions opportunity. It goes without saying, that before looking into one of these, check to see if your local church is planning a family missions experience that you can be a part of.

Adventures in Missions www.adventures.org

Mustard Seeds & Mountains   www.mustardseeds.org

YouthWorks www.youthworks.com

Orphanage Outreach www.orphanage-outreach.org

International World Changers www.thetask.org

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