Staying Safe on International Mission Trips
Monday, July 29th, 2019
Mission trips are one of the most rewarding acts of service that a church or faith-based organization can provide to others. Organizations frequently make mission trips abroad to share the gospel, deliver items like clothes and food to those in need, administer medical and dental care, assist in construction of churches or schools, or to offer disaster relief.
As important as these trips are to the health and well-being of people in need, embarking on an international mission trip can present safety concerns for the members of your congregation. However, if planned carefully, there is no reason that an international mission trip can’t be both rewarding and safe.
One of the first things you should do is to educate yourself on the area where you will be traveling. Before getting too far into the planning process, thoroughly research the area and find out about any safety risks that could potentially impact you and your group. This could include factors such as crime, spreadable diseases and unstable political situations. Take time to visit the U.S. Department of State website at travel.state.gov for travel advisory information.
Having a support system at your destination is another important safety step that you can take prior to leaving for your trip. This could involve working with a local church in the country where you will be visiting or with another nonprofit organization that is familiar with the area. Both groups can help provide insight into any safety concerns that might be present in the area where you will be working.
Once you and the members of your church or organization arrive in the country where you will serve, there are several ways to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
- Always be considerate of the different customs in the local culture. Be careful to avoid language, phrases, jokes or gestures that could be considered offensive to residents of the country you are visiting.
- Avoid accepting any rides or invitations to go anywhere without prior permission from the mission team leadership and never go anywhere alone.
- Dress modestly, making sure to wear minimal jewelry and to not bring anything you don’t want to lose.
- Keep copies of passports in a separate, secure place to protect against loss or theft.
- Always be on the lookout for pickpockets, and keep your valuables secure at all times. If you carry a purse or bag, consider wearing the strap across your chest so it will be more difficult to steal.
- If your mission team will be staying at a hotel during your trip, be careful to not disclose your room number or open your door for unexpected visitors or deliveries. Keep your hotel room door and windows locked.
Finally, it’s important to avoid any unnecessary risks when traveling on an international mission trip. Never venture out alone, especially at night, and always stay away from any volatile areas or events. If you are confronted by someone, do not attempt to fight back. Instead, give up your money or valuables and try to get out of the situation.
Traveling internationally as part of a mission trip can be done safely. With proper planning and common sense, the members of your mission team are sure to have a safe and rewarding experience helping those you are serving.