Mission trips. Maybe they sound cliché. Maybe you’ve been there, done that. Maybe you’re thinking, Why travel half-way around the world when there’s plenty enough to worry about in my own backyard? Maybe you’re right—but before you decide for sure, take a minute to read why you should go on a FOCUS mission…
1. You need to get out.
As Americans, we tend to think we’re the center of the world. We are distracted by our phones, our Facebook pages, our Twitter followers, our computer screens. Now—and I realize this could surprise you—but you should know the Internet cannot teach you everything you could ever want to know about life. You may be able to Google poverty statistics in India, health needs in Mexico, or evangelist initiatives in Russia. But that’s not the same as holding a sick person’s hand in Calcutta as they take their last breaths. It’s not the same as constructing a wheelchair for an elderly lady in Mexico City and seeing her face light up with joy and gratitude. It’s not the same as sharing the beautiful message of the Gospel with an orphan Vladivostok, letting her know, maybe for the first time, that she is infinitely loved. It’s just not.
2. You will see the world differently.
In Honduras, many people live in small, one-room houses. They sleep on the floor and have never heard of air conditioning, although temperatures often hover around 90 degrees. They have practically nothing and often don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Yet without hesitating, they will serve you, their visitor, their last bit of rice. They give from their necessity, because they do not have an overabundance. Their generosity is overwhelming, and while we may think they are poor, spiritually they are rich. Missions give you a chance to experience their lives and discover why and how they live that way.
3. You will meet Jesus.
Do you still feel like you haven’t really encountered Christ? Or, if you have, do you want to go deeper and experience Him in a new way? How about experiencing Him in Adoration on the other side of the world, where there is dancing and music and joy that surpasses understanding? How about looking Him in the eye as He lies helpless and tired in the form of a stranger? How about experiencing His love through the generosity of the poor? On a mission, our eyes are opened to seeing God in ways we never have before. Our distractions and the pressures of American college life are left behind us, leaving us open and vulnerable to the crazy love of God.
“Once we take our eyes away from ourselves, from our own interests, from our own rights, privileges, ambitions – then they will become clear to see Jesus around us.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta
4. Jesus tells us to.
“Go, make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
Did you know that in Africa and Asia, there is what’s called the 10/40 window? It’s an area between 10 degrees latitude and 40 degrees latitude north of the equator – think North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Two-thirds of the world’s population live in that window (that’s more than 4.4 billion people), but 90% of those people have never heard the message of the Gospel. NEVER. Not even once. The name of Jesus Christ is completely foreign to them.
Even in places where people have heard the name of Jesus, a re-proclamation of the Gospel is desperately needed, too. We can’t ignore the declining mass attendance in Europe, which is at the lowest in recorded history. As Catholics, it is our duty to share that Good News with them. FOCUS missions gives you that chance. We even teach you how to do it.
5. You will walk in the footsteps of saints.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Saint Francis Xavier. Saint Paul. Saint Thomas the Apostle. Saint Rose of Lima. Saint Charles Lwanga. Do what they did, live how they lived, and walk where they walked. Jesus Himself spent much time with poor, healing the sick, cleansing lepers, and bringing hope to the hopeless. FOCUS missions is your chance to enter into the service of Christ as these men and women have.
6. You can bring your friends!
That’s right. Talk about sweet. And what an opportunity for them to encounter Christ! Think about your friends who could be affected by such a profound encounter—and then imagine getting to experience that with them. Boom! Life changed. Maybe afterwards they won’t think you’re weird for going to Mass every Sunday (or more).
7. You have no good reason not to.
I’m sure you could come up with plenty of reasons not to go on mission. You don’t want to fundraise, you need an internship this summer, it would never fly with your parents… But really, looking back later on this time in your life, what will you wish you would have done? Will you be disappointed if you don’t go on mission? Will you wonder how your life might be different if you had? Will you imagine the people you could have met or the places you could have seen? Would your prayer life be different? Would you know God more deeply?
So, I challenge you: take a walk in another man’s shoes. Encounter Christ in the poor. Do something that scares you. See what God is doing in other parts of the world. Go make disciples of all nations. Trust Jesus. Ask the Lord what He wants from you. Apply for a mission trip.
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sights and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
– St. Augustine
FOCUS Mission trip applications are open now!