How to be "PALS" with the Community You Served
Just because your mission trip is done, it doesn’t mean you should leave your experience behind. There are lots of ways to continue serving the community you visited and keep loving the people you met. Here are four simple things you can do to keep doing what you started on your mission trip and be “PALS” with the community.
The Bible has a lot to say about prayer and gives a ton of examples of prayer’s power. Jesus often snuck away to a quiet place just to pray. In Ephesians, Paul writes a letter to a faraway church letting them know he’s praying for them. He prays that they would be rooted in love and would experience the fullness of God’s love (Ephesians 3:14–19).
Think about the people you met during your mission trip and the community you served. Think about their faces and names and try praying this same prayer for them – that they would experience the depth of the love of Christ in their lives today.
In Matthew 25:31–40, there’s a story about God telling people that they provided for God’s needs of food, water, a home, clothing, care and friendship. The people ask, “When did we help you with those things?” And God responds, “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, you did it to me.”
Now that you’ve left the community you served, it will be easy to ignore the needs you saw there. But you are invited to continue meeting needs! Consider what actions you can take to keep meeting needs in the community you visited. It might be something as simple as writing a letter, or maybe it’s starting a drive for supplies needed at a school or clothing closet. Maybe your action will be going back to serve the same community next summer… or even sooner. Consider what actions you will take to serve God by serving others.
Hopefully you learned some awesome things about the community you served this summer. What you learned might have been interesting, exciting or even upsetting. Take time to think and talk with others about what you’ve discovered. And keep learning!
Think of how nice it feels when others take time to learn about you and your life. In the same way, you can value and love people by learning more about them. And by learning, you can better understand how to serve them. Discover more about the place or culture you visited. Dig into issues like poverty, homelessness or hunger. Serve others through continuing to take time to understand them.
It can be easy to think less of people whose lives are different than yours. Sometimes we only see other people’s problems and forget all the strengths God has given them. The truth is everybody has something to offer! That certainly includes the people you met during your mission trip.
Proverbs 31:8–9 calls us to “speak up for those that cannot speak for themselves” and “defend the rights of the poor.” When you talk about the community you served in, what will you say? Will you only tell about the pain, hurt and poverty? Or will you choose to also share the bigger picture – that there is strength, hope and healing. With your words, you can continue to serve the people you met. Whose story do you need to tell? Who do you need to speak up for?