Missions -

2 ways mission trips build a spirit of community —

By Becca Haines

What can take a group of strangers and weave their mutual experiences into relationships they’ll remember forever?

Jason Dean, CIY’s IT director, and his wife, Wendy, led an Engage mission trip to the Dominican Republic this summer, and watched a diverse group of young people unite under the banner of Kingdom work. Jason Dean mentioned two contributing factors that play big roles in creating community on a mission trip.


1. The People

“God brought some amazing people into our lives through El Circulo Church, and each student was very open and flexible from the beginning,” Jason Dean said. “I would say that we had formed into a group within the first few hours of arriving in Miami, Florida. God’s hand was definitely in the selection of team members.”


Wendy, who is an administrative assistant for College Heights Christian Church in Joplin, agreed there was an instant bond between the participants.


“All of us on the team felt like God gave us an incredible gift of community,” she said. “No one really knew each other except just a couple of people, but God united us in a way that was tangible not only to us but to El Circulo. Everyone kept commenting about how well we got along and how it was amazing that we just met one another. I think because God gave us that gift, we were able to focus our energy on loving those we were there to serve and opening our hearts up to seeing God's presence where we were.”


2. God’s Remote Creations

“With every trip, I have heard team members express the desire to stay in country,” Jason Dean said. “The new cultures infuse the team with a need to extend love and compassion to all around them. God has definitely moved in the hearts of the team members each time we set foot in country. Pulling people out of comfort zones seems to open their hearts and minds to the needs around them on these trips.”


Wendy added that traveling miles from home can bring clarity.


“We were not distracted by difficulties in relationships, we just loved each other and trusted each other and the overflow of that spilled out to those we came in contact with,” she said. “We were constantly commenting on how the world is simultaneously broken and beautiful wherever you look, and because of that we were able to love the broken with a genuine love of Christ. I will forever be thankful for our team, the friendships we made, and the beauty that is found in the family of God.”