When the Mission Trip Came Home

The story of when the mission trip came home begins with a trip that fell through.

Impact Mission Camps partners with local associations and groups of churches to bring students to a locality where people need home repairs. We equip the youth to help ensure those homes are safe, warm, and dry.

While most of our churches and camps are in Virginia, students often want to go as far away from home as possible.

We had a group from far eastern Virginia register for a camp in Abingdon in the far southwest. This was a solid 6-hour trip, so the kids were pretty excited.

But fairly late in the game, the host school let us know they wouldn’t be able to accommodate us. In the scramble to find a suitable host, we ended up moving camp all the way across the state: about 6 minutes from the church in eastern Virginia.

They had already planned their summer around participating during that particular week. None of the other weeks or locations would work with their church schedule. They faced a dilemma: go to camp in their hometown or do something different altogether.

Fortunately, this group chose to serve at home for that week. They were full participants: sleeping on air mattresses a few short miles from their own beds and working in their own community.

The kids grumbled a bit at first. As the week went on, they started talking more and more about how crazy it was that this need was so near their own homes, and they’d never noticed. At the end of the week, they all agreed they were glad they’d decided to serve so close to home. But they were also glad that the next year, they’d be able to go somewhere else.

A year later, that same group came back to camp. This time, they are about four hours from home. One of the kids from the group walked up to me and said, “Hey, Glenn, do you remember me?”

In the most polite way I could, I said something like, “I saw 1,000 people at Impact last summer – of course I don’t remember you.”

He said, “I’m Patrick!” as if that would clear up everything for me. When he saw my blank stare, he said, “You worked on my house last year!” The other kids from his church walked up, and one of them put his arm around the kid and explained everything to me.

These kids had worked on the home of a kid they went to school with. During camp that week, they had gotten to know him. And they made sure that Patrick knew they were there to have a relationship with him – not just work on his house.

Through this new relationship, they discovered how much he had to contribute to their group – and to their community. The next year, because they had invested in more than just his home, he was ready to go to camp and do the same for other people.

At the end of every week, invariably, someone asks

“How do we keep this excitement going year round?”

A lot of times, I’ll tell them that story.

Maybe your next mission experience needs to happen at home.

That group was able to see need where they had never noticed it. They were also able to see the people they served as, first and foremost, people. People who have as much to offer to their church as their church had to offer to them.

It’s usually much easier to see a need when we go away than it is when we are at home. This is why it isn’t really about keeping the excitement of the week.

It’s about keeping an open mind, open heart, and open eyes to see opportunities and see people. And to see the opportunities and the people at home, too.

Glenn Maddox is the Missions Mobilizer and Director of Impact Mission Camps for the Baptist General Association of Virginia.