A mission trip is an amazing journey that exposes first-world luxury and opens the heart to people living in abject poverty or unsafe environments. For a teenager, a mission trip can be the beginning of a lifelong passion to serve and an opportunity for new adventures. For parents, a mission trip might sound scary and overwhelming so detailed research is vital in choosing the mission organization that best serves the population while keeping its volunteers safe. Domestic and international missions vary drastically in scope and regulation; this article offers the best domestic mission organization for teens, the best international mission organization for teens, and the best organization that offers mission trips both within the United States and worldwide.
The Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), founded in 1964 and based in Kentucky, serves the residents of the Appalachia Region. Much of their work is focused in Kentucky but they also send teams to help residents in 13 neighboring states. Appalachia is home to some of the nation’s poorest families, in fact 41% are considered living in poverty. The CAP works with families, the elderly, and adults living with disabilities; their goal is to lift people out of poverty by encouraging self-help and teaching life skills. Each summer, the CAP hosts YouthFest mission trips as an alternative to traditional Spring Break trips for high school students. Groups of any size can spend 1-2 weeks building and repairing houses for families in the region who desperately need help. They also offer Short Term mission opportunities for individuals or groups who can commit to a full summer of home building and repair. Teens can also apply for Summer Camp positions to offer encouragement and hope to children living in poverty and gain a more personal insight into the reality of life in Appalachia.
Teen Missions sent its first team out in 1971 and hasn’t looked back since. They currently serve more than 110 countries and offer several teen mission trips each year. Teen missionaries can choose which country or region they would like to serve and apply for a position on the team. Tasks vary depending on the location but often include building wells or schools, repairing homes, or helping to cultivate farm land. Obviously an international mission will require more documentation, medical evaluations, vaccinations, and personal volunteer costs but the investment may well be worth the returns. The opportunity to travel the world, meet new people, experience an entirely different culture, and make a positive impact on the world is priceless.
Domestic and International
Adventures In Missions offers prospective missionaries the choice between serving in the United States or internationally. Domestic missions may be urban or rural, an alternative that is appealing to many teens who wish to experience life and make a difference in a setting apart from their own without traveling overseas. Adventures in Missions focuses on relationships and weaving missionaries into the ministries already in place in their destination. Service projects may be a need in some areas but other mission trips may include prayer walks, evangelism, or sports ministry.
Choosing to serve on a missions trip is a commitment that should not be made lightly; teens should be aware of the responsibilities, code of conduct, and time frame they are committing to. Serving with an open heart can be a life-changing experience that will hopefully continue throughout a lifetime.
Mimi Rothschild is a veteran homeschooling mother of 8, writer of a series of books called Cyberspace for Kids, and passionate advocate for children and education that is truly worthy of them. In 2001, Mimi and her late husband founded Learning By Grace, a leading provider of online Christian homeschooling Academies.