Nov 1, 2014


Before my journey this summer, I had never been out of the United States.

I had no comparable experience I could use as a basis for any expectations for the summer—really didn't know what to expect. It was difficult to have any sort of expectations.

But I knew what I wanted out of it. I wrote in my journal days before my departure, "I want to come away valuing Christ more supremely than ever and treasuring the gospel more deeply than ever."

I knew that since God had made a way for me to go and provided for every detail, this experience had eternal significance. It was more than just an opportunity that had the potential to deeply influence my life. No, we're talking about the God who is the Author of the life story of the billions and billions individuals who have existed throughout history, the God who purposefully weaves the simplest events and seemingly insignificant details together to add up to the beautiful and profound and glorious story of History—the stories of individual lives he uses to bring about his perfect and sovereign will.

God's plan for me is not limited to my lifetime.

I love the quote from John Piper that says, "God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of just three of them." Although I will never know all the things that God did through what I experienced, saw, and did this summer, I went into it knowing that it wasn't about me.

My journal entry about wanting to treasure Christ and the gospel more than ever reflected my desire to only gain the only thing worth gaining: Jesus Christ. Yes, I gained so much about cross-cultural living, and assimilation, and language learning, and missiology, and discipleship, and evangelistic strategies. But my mindset going into this internship was the glory of Christ. That's what gave this summer eternal significance.

Before my journey this summer, I had never been out of the United States. The thought of setting foot on soil halfway around the world from my home was surreal. So surreal. But then I landed, and it became so real. And it was still just life as I had lived it before—but at the same time it was completely new. After so much anticipation for this experience I'd never had before, the words "I'm here" meant SO much. I just couldn't get those words out of my head once we landed.

"I'm here."

May 16, 2014

25 Ways to Fundraise for Your Mission Trip

How do I fundraise? One of the biggest struggles of mission trips is often raising the funds needed to travel. Don't let the cost of mission trips prevent you from serving internationally! Here are 25 ideas you can use to raise money for your mission trip:

1. Send Support Letters
You can thoughtfully explain the purpose of your trip and your passion to serve through a friendly, concise support letter. Inform your friends and family about your financial needs and budget for the mission trip, and maybe even provide a suggested donation. If you're willing, list some ways you are willing to work in order to earn the money (see the rest of the suggestions below for ideas). One page is an optimal length (add a photo or two to grab attention!), and try to target around 75-100 people. It's most efficient to print out the letters, but add a personal touch by addressing each recipient by name and signing your name by hand. Be sure to keep track of everyone you give a letter to and who gives you money—you'll want to send thank you letters after the trip! :)

2. Partner with Your Local Church
A home body of believers is foundational for any successful mission endeavor. The Great Commission is not meant to be carried out alone—and this includes short term missions as well as long term missions. Talk to your pastor and see if you can personally share about your opportunity to your fellow church members. If you have a Missions Board at your church, talk to them as well; sometimes churches have specific funds set aside for supporting and contributing to their students' mission trips. Also consider talking to Bible study and small groups about financial and prayer support. Prayer should be of highest importance in any ministry, so whether or not your church gives, you'll want the blessing, encouragement, support and prayers of your church family.

3. Host a Dinner or Banquet
Raise money by preparing a delicious meal. Make it simple and fun: breakfast for dinner, baked potato bars, chili or spaghetti… An ice cream social would work as well! You could either raise the money by selling tickets in advance, or you could place a donation basket on the table and allow people to give as much as they feel led to. This is an event that could easily be combined with another (e.g. talent show, silent auction, game night) to make it more exciting and to draw more people to participate. Take the opportunity to share with people about what you'll be doing on your mission trip while they eat.

4. Organize an Auction 
A silent auction could have a single theme (such as a dessert auction), or you could include anything and everything from baked goods to pizza, from handmade items to gift baskets… maybe even your services! Start off each item with a suggested price, and then let people bid as much as they want until the event is over.

5. Plan a Bake Sale
You could sell homemade baked items at a local farmer's market, or even at your church (everyone is hungry and willing to buy food when church gets out!). Wrap individual items with charming ribbon or paper—make it appealing to the eye! And if you sell out of a particular item, you could have a piece of paper "take orders" for those who may have wanted some and get it to them later.

6. Organize a Talent Show
Enlist some of the talented people you know to display their abilities for a good cause. Even those who may not have a particular "skill" to show off can participate in funny skits or be the "host" of the show. Make it a fun night, and be sure that you contribute with your own talents as well. :)

7. Sell Handmade Items
If there's some craft that you can make, sell it! For one of my mission trips, I sold some of my handmade jewelry and sewing projects by sending out emails with pictures and information. I also listed some of the items on Etsy (although there's small fee for each listing) and set up a table at church one Sunday to display and sell my items. You could also make flyers to hand up or give away and possibly put an announcement in the church bulletin.

8. Babysitting, Weekend Daycare, or Parents' Night Out
Get the word out that you are looking for some babysitting opportunities. Also consider watching children for multiple people for a weekend daycare, or advertise for a "parents' night out" (feel free to enlist the help of friends or family).

9. Host a Yard Sale
Clean out the house and make some money at the same time! But get ready for an early weekend morning… sales typically start as early as 7am. :)

10. Have People Donate Gently Used and Unwanted Items
This is a great way for people to support you, especially if they don't have a lot of cash to spare. Not only will it increase the value of your yard sale, but it will make it bigger and hopefully attract more people. One of my relatives donated a whole stack of brand new clothes that she had never worn… I was able to sell a lot of them on eBay, as I'll describe below

11. Sell Stuff on eBay
Several months before one of my mission trips, I began listing my family's old, gently used clothing and shoes items on eBay. I made somewhere around $500 by the time my trip came around, and it's a little "side business" I continue to this day! The job requires a lot of listing, packaging, and shipping; but if you're willing to put in the time and effort, it can really pay off. My personal tips: As far as clothing goes, name brand items sell the best. However, any clothing in great condition can sell as well–especially if they have unique characteristics that people will be searching for (chambray shirt, chiffon dress, chino shorts, etc.).

12. Offer Yard Work Services 
In the spring and summer, when things are growing and the weather is getting hot, many people will be willing to hire young people for yard work—and especially if it's going toward missions. If you're going to ask people for money, you should be willing to work for it too.

13. "Rent-A-Servant"
Send out emails and fliers, post it in the church bulletin—you're available for hire to do those tasks around the house people don't get to. Painting, dusting, washing, mopping, or whatever other job someone might want help with. This is your opportunity to be a blessing to others while raising money for your mission trip at the same time. If you want to serve other people in a cross-cultural context, you'd better be more than willing to serve them in your own community.

14. Organize an Ultimate (or Softball) Tournament
I don't know about you, but I love playing Ultimate frisbee. Another idea to raise funds is to organize an Ultimate tournament, or any other sport such as softball, and charge a small fee to join a team. This would also be a good chance to sell some concessions, as well.

15. Sell T-Shirts
There are several T-shirt companies that exist to help students raise money for mission trips. Check out Fund the Nations and Bonfire Funds to see how they work. Everyone loves T-shirts! So, get some awesome t-shirts made for a low price, and sell them to people you know to raise money.

16. Tutor
You know there's a subject you're good at. :) Advertise to parents of younger students the subject you're willing to tutor in. And, who knows, this might be a job that you can keep even after you come back from you mission trip!

17. Offer a Course of Something You're Good At
Maybe it's knitting, tennis, drawing, piano, cooking, writing, making Excel spreadsheets, or photoshop. Whatever it is, use it to your benefit and offer classes as a fundraiser.

18. Partner with a Restaurant that Will Donate a Percentage of a Meal
Some restaurants are willing to set aside a day or two where a certain percentage of all their meals can go toward a non-profit. Check around with your local restaurants. Then, if you find one that will partner with you, get the word out to all your friends and church community so they can all eat there that day and support you in the process.

19. Corporate Sponsorship
There are many companies and businesses that incorporate philanthropic giving into their budget, including your mission trip! Inquire with friends and family to see if they have any business contacts or associates that you can write a letter to. Also look for Christian business owners or business that advertise in your church bulletin or Christian magazines.

20. Use Your Photography Skills
If you've got the skills, try to find some families or individuals that want some portraits. In addition, if you're willing to give up the copyright to any of your photos, you can sell them at Go take a walk, snap some good photos, and sell them on a public domain photography website. It will take quite a few photos to make a substantial amount of money, but every little bit helps.

21. Organize a Car Wash
Of course, there's the good ol' fashioned car wash to raise some money. If you decide to do a car wash, my suggestion is to make it clear that sponges and wash cloths will be kept off the ground. My mom says this is the reason she never does them… the little rocks that the sponges pick up can scratch the car, and she never wanted to take that chance.

22. Have a Fundraiser Party
Do something fun for everyone and raise some money while you're at it. Have a family game night, plan a "Trivia night" with competing teams, skit night, "famous duos" night with costumes… or any other event you can think of!

23. Pet Sitting/ Dog Walking
Advertise to take care of those furry creatures to help you reach your financial goals.

24. Use a Fundraising Website
There's plenty of free websites dedicated to promoting the cause you're fundraising for, such as Razoo or Team316. They're easy to share on social media, and it tells you exactly where you're at with funds.

25. Frequent Flyer Miles
Many airlines allow people to donate their frequent flyer miles to non-profit groups. If you know someone who travels often, ask if they'd be willing to donate some of the mileage they've earned through flying so frequently to your trip (if your trip is eligible with the airlines).

What ideas would you add?


Apr 2, 2014

we do not waste our lives as missionaries

"People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives … and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted."

—Nate Saint, missionary martyr

Jan 3, 2014

CrossCon 2013: Reflections on the Cross Conference

I showed up at the Cross Conference in Louisville, Kentucky expecting to have my passion for God and the gospel rekindled.

That's exactly what I came away with.

John Piper, David Platt, Kevin DeYoung, and Matt Chandler are all pastors that have influenced me through books, blogs, and sermons. So of course, it was incredible to hear them all in the same place and even have the opportunity to ask them questions in special Q&A sessions.

Words cannot describe how incredibly glorious it is to be surrounded by over 3,000 college students who are on fire for Christ along with these passionate teachers of God's Word!

Not only was I challenged in my calling to proclaim the gospel to the nations, I was reminded just how much I need the gospel, how it's still the most vital aspect of my daily life.

So often I forget to be consistently amazed by God's grace and treasure the gospel.

"Until Christ is our treasure, any motivation we have to go out and suffer for him is a fool's errand."— Matt Chandler

Because I have chosen my degree in order to pursue full-time missions, it was such a joy for me to speak to the dozens sending agencies and missions organizations set up at the conference. There are so many resources and supports for missionaries today!

As David Platt prepared to give the closing session, he prefaced everything by saying at the end he was going to ask some of us to stand if we were willing to commit to making a move towards long-term missions. By standing, we would be committing to approach our church leaders about our desire to pursue missions.

At that point, I knew in my head that that's exactly what I wanted to do with my life—that's the very reason I chose English ed as my major. Still, the fact that I was being asked to make such a decided and binding commitment daunted me. This was serious commitment that could effect the entire trajectory of my life.

Was I ready? Was this really what God's purpose for my life was?

I began searching for a "feeling" of confirmation, some kind of heartfelt "calling" to give me confidence in my decision all through David Platt's session. I hoped that he would give a powerful list of motivations or some words that would so set my heart ablaze that I wouldn't have any doubts as to whether I would stand or sit when the time came.

However, instead of the closing words from David Platt that I was expecting, the last CrossCon session was directly from God.

David Platt said, "What if all it took was the word of God to inspire the worship of God?" Then he dove right in to a recitation of Romans 1-8.

What followed was literally one of the most glorious things I have ever experienced.

As he was reciting the first 8 chapters of Romans, people all over the room began standing in worship, raising their hands in adoration, rejoicing in the Word with shouts of joy, "amen's," and "hallelujah's." I experienced what it is like to be so moved the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is absolutely the power of God to salvation!

For the second greatest time in my life (the first being my salvation), I experienced the gospel's power in my life. By chapter 8, I had been moved to be feet, hands in the air, tears streaming down my face. 

The biggest motivation for missions is not anything any evangelist or speaker can say—it is the gospel and the gospel alone that is our motivation!

No longer did I have any doubts about my decision. I was ready to stand and commit my life to the proclamation of this powerful gospel of Christ to the nations, even if it meant risking my life and giving up everything. 

This gospel is worth it.

"Count the cost and count it well. Then pay it joyfully because Jesus is worth it." — David Sitton