Servant Life Blog

This past summer, Dennis Johnsey brought his group to serve in Cuba, and we had a little Q&A session to hear all about it. Over the course of one week, their team saw over 125 professions of faith! Read below to hear about their experience.

Servant Life teams in Cuba will be serving with the Eastern Baptist Convention of Cuba. Teams might be involved in camp ministry, VBS, preaching in church services, relational community ministry (soccer, for example), and door-to-door evangelism and home visits. The trip cost is $999 plus airfare, and this amount includes a donation / scholarship to support camp ministry in Cuba. For more information, click here.

Q: For many people, considering a trip to Cuba is scary because of safety concerns. Can you speak into the safety of this trip? How was your team treated by Cubans?

A: “Cuba is a beautiful country with beautiful people, beautiful inside and out. Every church we visited we found people singing Hillsong and worshipping a mighty God. Safety was never an issue with our group. We went downtown at 8 p.m. and ate ice cream with people all around. We walked to city square and there were over 100 people there. We found they were very friendly. Cubans seemed to love Americans and loved having us in their homes.”

Q: What were the ministry opportunities like? How was your team able to share the gospel?

A: “Ministry in Cuba is multi-faceted. We brought materials for children’s church for Sunday and VBS supplies, so we could work with children in churches and youth at a two-day camp. They love to hear Americans preach, so we were able to do that. The biggest ministry that the churches do is door to door evangelism. So our team had the fast track on sharing their faith.”

Q: How did the trip impact your group personally? What did the Lord teach you?

A: “Cuba stands out among places we have ministered on Mission trips. Our team fell in love with the people. Most of the team had never shared their faith with a stranger or gone into strangers homes. Now it is second nature to them. I experienced on this trip how your team grows the most when they are pushed out of their comfort zone.”

Q: What would you say to a group leader who is considering leading a team to serve in Cuba?

A: “If a minister is considering a mission trip I would highly recommend Cuba. The response of the people is so rewarding. The trip is not any more difficult than other Latin America countries, and the food is very good. Whatever we asked of our host they were only too happy to accommodate us.”

To sign up for a trip to Cuba next summer or for more information on our partnership there, click here!



8 Tips for your Upcoming Mission Trip

And of course all good lists are alliterated. 

1. Prayer. Set up a prayer network with friends and family. Send out prayer cards with your picture and bullets of how people can pray. Be committed to prayer yourself. Commit the work you do and conversations you will have to the Lord! Check out Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” This work is not yours to do, it’s His!

2. Packing. Consider rolling your clothes to better use your space (and eliminate wrinkles). Wear your bulkiest items (jeans, sweatshirt, etc) on the plane and travel day. Pack in layers; where you go, mornings and evenings could be much cooler than the heat of the day. Be prepared for weather changes! 

3. Pro-tips for travel:

  • Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate piece of luggage (just in case!).
  • Create a special luggage identifier for your entire group’s bags (this can be a simple luggage tag or, if you like arts & crafts, can be a fun project!).
  • Look into your airline’s luggage fees! Some will waive your fee if you tell them you are on a mission trip whereas some may have free bags to specific countries. 
  • Be prepared for airport customs. Know the address of where you will be staying locally and be ready to tell the customs agent your reason for entering their country. 
  • Check your cell phone plan for international advantages and disadvantages. Some even offer free international texting!

4. Prevent unreasonable expectations. You are not a Christian superhero and you might not see hundreds of people surrender to the Lord. This trip probably will not go as you have always dreamed. Expectations that are not filled simply lead to discouragement and disappointment. You may not even see much fruit or results from your time there. THIS IS OK. 1 Corinthians 3:6 tells us that some are given the job of planting seeds; our ultimate responsibility is not to see results, but to be faithful to the Lord. Be grateful for whatever your role may be and support those who may be in a different role than you.

5. Prepare for a new cultureLearn some phrases in the local language. Show interest in the culture of those you are interacting with. Try to communicate and understand, even if it’s only the simplest phrases. Don’t be a tourist. Research the food you will be eating and be ready to try new things! Also prepare to be exposed to different living conditions and the culture shock it may bring. 

6. Plan to drop your plans. Be flexible! Remember things will not always go as you expect them to go (see again tip #4), and it’s your job to roll with what comes your way. A flexible team member with a positive attitude can be crucial at keeping the rest of the team on track.

7. Preserve your thoughts. Bring a journal. Document your thoughts, prayers, what you did each day, how the Lord moved, people you met, their stories and how they impacted you. These are special moments you will want to look back on for the rest of your life– and you won’t be able to recall them forever!

8. Praise and proclaim Christ (before, during, and after your trip). This one is most important.

Remember the purpose of your trip: for Christ to be made known to all peoples (including those in your hometown). Be prepared to share your story with those who have been praying for you and waiting to hear about the trip. Have a 30 second version ready to share about what God did and a 5 minute, longer version. You will not always have plenty of time to share, but be ready to give the key points in a short time. Think about a moment or person you met who impacted you there; tell those stories of what God did in those moments. Be careful to not exclusively share about the activities you did or things you built; always remember the purpose of those activities and the people you were able to love. Give God all the glory in all things!


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(*The base cost for this trip is covered by Servant Life and Clubhouse Guatemala. You are only responsible for airfare and a few meals.*)

In the Fall of 2015, Servant Life took a group of youth leaders down to Guatemala for a vision trip. It was a great opportunity to learn more about short-term trips in Guatemala and what a week of ministry would look like for a church group.

Because of the success of that trip and how beneficial it was for youth leaders, we are doing it again this November! From November 1-4, Servant Life and ministry partner Clubhouse Guatemala will be hosting prospective group leaders on another vision trip. Group leaders will be responsible for purchasing airfare as well as a few meals in-country, but all other expenses such as transportation and lodging will be covered.

This is a great opportunity for any group looking for a mission trip opportunity, especially for any leaders who would feel better about experiencing the setting before leading a group of students. If you are interested in joining us on this trip, please send an e-mail to, and we would love to give you more details!

Here’s what those who went on the trip last year had to say:

Anytime you can preview the mission work you will be doing and pray with the people who will preparing for your team’s ministry, it’s invaluable.  It was also meaningful to be able to post and share firsthand pictures and stories from where our students would be going in the midst of encouraging them to apply! – Trevor Brown, FBC Round Rock

Seeing the country and mission opportunity firsthand helped solidify my decision to serve this summer in Guatemala. The blessing I received was even greater than I could have expected. I can’t wait to serve this summer alongside others from my church. – Tina Wilson, Cave Spring Baptist Church

The vision trip was awesome! It really helped me to get an idea of what to expect for our students and leaders. It also helped us to be better prepared and how to best equip our group for the trip. Having the opportunity to see first hand what kind of ministry is happening in Guatemala really confirmed this was the trip for our students. – Jason Leschitz, Youth Pastor, FBC Daytona Beach

Whether you are going on a mission trip or are simply eager to learn more about Christian missions, there are an abundance of great resources available. From missionary biographies to textbooks on the theology of missions, it can be a little overwhelming to try to find the right book for you.
We have put together this simple list to help you find the book that fits your needs. It seems unfair to “rank” these books because they approach Christian missions from many different angles and cover many different topics.

With that in mind, we wholeheartedly recommend all ten of these! Since adding ten books to your reading list might be a little daunting, we encourage you to read the short blurb about each book to help you decide which few books might be the best fit for you.

There are MANY more books that we could have listed here. To see our even larger list of recommendations, go here.


Radical, by David Platt


This book is not so much about mission trips as it is about living a missional lifestyle. David Platt now serves as the president of the International Mission Board and has played a huge role in helping mobilize a generation of believers to the mission field.

“God blesses his people with extravagant grace so they might extend his extravagant glory to all peoples on the earth.” – David Platt, Radical


Ten Who Changed the World, by Danny Akin

If you are looking for a volume of missionary biographies, search no further. This book profiles ten different prominent missionaries from the last few centuries and looks at a passage of Scripture that fits each of their lifestyles. Missionary profiles include William Carey, Lottie Moon, Ann and Adoniram Judson, Jim Elliott, and others. Author Danny Akin serves as the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Let the Nations be Glad, by John Piper

John Piper is a brilliant author and pastor, and in this book he lays out his understanding of our call to missions and connects it all to the glory of God.

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” – John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad


When Helping Hurts, by Corbett and Fikkert

One of the most widely acclaimed books for short-term missions among the impoverished, When Helping Hurts seeks to demonstrate that not all methods of ministry are beneficial in the long-term. This book helped shift many contemporary Christian mission efforts away from harmful practices. If you are trying to discern what kind of missional methodology is helpful and God-honoring when working among the poor, this is your book.

“Until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do more harm than good. I sometimes unintentionally reduce poor people to objects that I use to fulfill my own need to accomplish something. I am not okay, and you are not okay. But Jesus can fix us both.” – When Helping Hurts


Cross-Cultural Servanthood, by Duane Elmer

This book is simple to read, yet highly practical and profound in its application. Author Duane Elmer uses his missionary experience to explain the importance of entering a cross-cultural setting while retaining the humility and servant nature of Christ. We cannot assume that our ways of thinking and doing things will translate into other cultures. We must, in humility, lower ourselves in order to raise and exalt Christ.

“If God connected with us as a servant, that becomes the way we too connect with people of this world. While it runs counter to our natural desire, we have no choice. We are never more like Jesus than when we serve others.” – Duane Elmer, Cross-Cultural Servanthood

The Insanity of God
, by Nik Ripken

This book follows the journey of a missionary couple through all the ups and downs of life on the mission field. It is a remarkable story of intense faith and will certainly challenge you to consider how much you truly rely on the Lord as you carry out your faith. The Ripken’s story is an enjoyable read, but also an intense and compelling story about life in the Middle East.

“If we spend our lives so afraid of suffering, so averse to sacrifice, that we avoid even the risk of persecution or crucifixion, then we might never discover the true wonder, joy and power of a resurrection faith. Ironically, avoiding suffering could be the very thing that prevents us from partnering deeply with the Risen Jesus.” – Nik Ripken, The Insanity of God

The Missionary Call: Find Your Place in God’s Plan for the World
, by M. David Sills

This book serves as a great introduction for those who are considering the call to be a missionary. Sills deals with topics such as “What is the missionary call?”, “Understanding your missionary call,” and “Fulfilling the missionary call.” It is both an introduction to missions and a crash course on missions and life on the mission field.

“When God calls His child to live the life of a missionary, He gives them the desire with the calling.” – M. David Sills, The Missionary Call

Master Plan of Evangelism
, by Robert E. Coleman

Instead of focusing on cross-cultural missions, this book focuses on evangelism in general—which is of course a prerequisite for missions. Author Robert Coleman seeks to get to the heart of evangelism strategies by looking at the greatest missionary and evangelist of all time, Christ himself. If you are looking to grow as a communicator of the gospel, this is the book for you.

“It is good to tell people what we mean, but it is infinitely better to show them. People are looking for a demonstration, not an explanation.” – Coleman, Master Plan of Evangelism

Theology and Practice of Mission
, by Bruce Ashford

For those of you who are looking for a thorough, yet easy to read theology of Christian missions, this book is a great starting point. It does not feel as dense or overwhelming as a textbook, yet is rich in content. Editor Bruce Ashford covers topics related the mission of God and the church’s mission to the nations (including missions to specific people such as Muslims or postmoderns). He connects his understanding of missions back to the biblical grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.

“One of the most significant challenges facing churches, agencies, and missionaries today is the imperative to allow Christian doctrine to shape their actual ministry practices.” – Ashford, Theology and Practice of Mission

Discovering Church Planting
, by J.D. Payne

While this hearty work is styled more like a textbook, it is an excellent read as J.D. Payne covers “the whats, whys, and hows of global church planting.” He argues for different biblical, historical, and missiological principles related to church planting strategies and methodologies. If God’s plan for the spread of the gospel is going to be accomplished through Kingdom communities (aka, “churches”), then it is important for believers to propagate the gospel in a biblical, God-honoring, Christ-exalting manner.

“Believers are not commanded to go into all the world and plant churches, but rather make disciples. It is in the process of making disciples (evangelism) that new churches (congregationalization) result. Biblical church planting is about using contextualized methods in a strategic manner to reach unbelievers, equip them as church leaders, and send them as evangelists and church planters throughout the world.” – J. D. Payne, Discovering Church Planting

Recently we welcomed 10 college students to our offices to train, equip, and prepare as they are sent out on mission for the summer. On the heels of the inaugural A1eight Project summer last year, we could not be more thrilled to introduce the college students who make up this year’s A1eight Project mid-term teams.

As mentioned in previous posts that you can find HERE, the A1eight Project is sending college students as summer long missionaries and teaming them up with our partners already on the field. By supporting the local missionaries each day, they will be helping to host the short term Servant Life teams each week.

Asking yourself how you can be a part? If you are between the ages of 18-25, we would love for you to apply the A1eight Project, summer 2017. Click here for the application! You can spend your summer ministering in countries like Bulgaria, Kenya, Guatemala, Canada, DR/ Haiti and more. This summer, A1eight teams will be serving in Guatemala and New York city!

As teams serve in these places, we ask primarily that you would join us in praying for these 10 students. Ask for endurance for the summer as well as hearts and hands that are prone to love those around them.

Get to know these summer missionaries! Each was asked to share something about themselves that someone may not learn or know upon a first conversation with them. Read what they chose to share! Without further adieu, give a warm welcome to the 2016 A1eight Project team members!

Serving in New York City

These A1eight Project missionaries will spend their summer alongside the staff of Urban Nations Outreach sharing the Gospel with refugees and internationals there through ESL classes and various aspects of community outreach. Learning from the church planters at UNO, this team will support the work being done there while also helping to host and guide short term mission teams.

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Serving in Guatemala:

These A1eight Project missionaries will spend their summer alongside the staff of Clubhouse Guatemala sharing the Gospel with nationals through summer camp and community outreach. Spending majority of their time with local children and their families, this team will also help host and guide the short term trips throughout the summer.

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Servant Life is excited to be offering a vision trip to Guatemala for prospective group leaders! Servant Life partners with Mike Parker and Clubhouse Guatemala to host short-term trips (as well as mid-term college students through the A1eight Project). After forming a relationship in 2014 and an incredible summer of ministry in 2015, we are excited to offer this vision trip for anyone interested in leading a team to Guatemala next summer.


  • November 2 – 5
  • All expenses in-country are covered (meals, lodging, ministry)
  • Airfare is at your expense
  • The vision trip team will include Servant Life staff, Clubhouse Guatemala staff, and prospective group leaders
  • Time will be spent seeing the ministry of Clubhouse Guatemala and possibly working with and equipping local pastors for ministry

This is a great opportunity for prospective group leaders who are interested in bringing a team to Guatemala. You will have the opportunity to meet the ministry team, experience the culture and ministry setting, and capture a vision for what God is doing in this country. As you experience the ministry firsthand, you will be a better at advocating and raising support from the rest of your church to return for a short-term mission trip. We respectfully ask that only those who are interested in leading their church on a trip to Guatemala contact us about this opportunity.

Because all in-country expenses will be covered by Clubhouse Guatemala, space is limited for this trip. If you are interested, please message us for more details at!



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New doors are opening in Cuba, and we are excited to announce a partnership in this island country! The culture of Cuba is rapidly changing as citizens are having increased exposure to the rest of the world through mediums such as the Internet and foreign travelers. The Church has been active in this country for many years, but Cuba is in a critical stage as people are deciding whether they will be influenced by the world or influenced by the Word of God.

You can join us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with this historic nation next summer! Servant Life is partnering with Christian Family Life to lead a team into Cuba. Groups will have a variety of ministry opportunities, ranging from sports ministry to VBS camps to other community events. Our hope is not only to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to new ears, but to encourage and equip local pastors with training resources and help them engage their local communities.

After sending one team to Cuba in 2016, we hope to be able to add more weeks to the calendar and give more teams the opportunity to serve in 2017. Our desire is to see the hope of Christ spread to every corner of the country!

Contact us if you are interested in this opportunity by sending an e-mail to

When we contemplate what the Great Commission is all about, we either get excited or gripped by fear that we might not be walking in obedience to this great call. We may be terrified to share our faith with the neighbor next door or even dare to invite them to church, worse still share with them the truth that Jesus is the ONLY Way, the Truth and the Life. But wait, what is the worst that can happen? Rejection! Yes, we can and will get rejected because our Master the Lord Jesus was rejected too, remember! But our work of going and telling them must be done if we are to walk in obedience. We have to keep in mind that the gospel is an offense, so those in the dark will naturally play defense thus we should never be shocked if they reject Christ. Our work is done when we have GONE and TOLD them and the Holy Spirit picks up from where we have stopped and convicts them unto repentance. The message of a loving God who never gives up on us must be preached to one in the Slums in Africa who went to bed last night without a meal and also to one living in a sub-division in America with no space in their fridge for extra food, these two equally need the forgiveness of a loving Savior. The bottom line is that the Great Commission must be a non-negotiable commitment of every believer and congregation to go locally and globally.

Peter Abungu, Founder/Director – Swahiba Youth Networks, partner Organization of Servant Life

Servant Life is thrilled to be partnering with Clubhouse Guatemala in Guatemala City.  Clubhouse Guatemala is a Christ-centered ministry that desires to reach the lost of Guatemala. Clubhouse was started in 2003 by Mike and Carla Parker. nepal . The Parker’s desire is to go into villages and reach children and adults through block parties, shoe and clothing distribution, face paint, cotton candy, vacation bible school, and many other creative ways to show the love of Christ.

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As the ministry has developed over the years, the Parkers have handed more and more leadership over to the native staff from Guatemala. The Guatemalan leaders have always been a key to the success of the ministry, but they need help from short-term teams to support their ministry and to build the local church!

So far this summer, Servant Life has sent 100 people to serve alongside Clubhouse Guatemala. There is also an A1eight Project team in Guatemala all summer leading our short term teams. The groups have been part of leading Vacation Bible School, feeding the locals, and participating in community home visits. We can’t wait for the summer of 2016 to hopefully send even more people to Guatemala! For more information about Guatemala and how you can be involved, visit our website.




Years ago I began dreaming about Servant Life helping both our global partners and also deepening relationships with college students, churches and campus ministries throughout the country.  As I just scratched notes in my journal and Evernote and prayed about what it could be, I continued to go back to the instructions from Jesus just before he ascended into Heaven that we find in Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  

As time passed and we talked as a team, with partners, and with various college students, we prayerfully came to the conclusion that we would launch a new option allowing for college students and young adults to serve for longer periods of time each summer with one of our (currently) 10 global partners.  The A1eight Project was born.




  • Experience disciple-making in a global context for their entire summer (project lengths range from 6-12 weeks).
  • Explore and learn through various missions related resources.
  • Become a part of a small team that serves alongside a missionary serving on the field.
  • Lead and host short-term teams that come to serve with you in your context.
  • Are a part of advancing the gospel and fulfilling the Great Commission. 

This summer we have two pilot teams serving in Guatemala and Toronto for the entire summer.  It has been a joy to hear weekly updates from them as they serve with short-term teams, learn from missionaries on the field and engage locals, both in villages in Guatemala and on college campuses in Toronto.  The diversity of our world is being engaged with the gospel daily.

Here are a few snapshots from some of the updates:

From the Toronto team – “We have been able to sit down in these conversations (with mostly Chinese students) and intentionally walk through the gospel with them, and while some have been less receptive to it, there have been a few who are very interested and want to learn more. Eddie* came to church with us this last Sunday and Emma* asked for a Bible and we were able to get her one, so that was exciting. Guang* and Emma have also voiced an interest in coming to church with us on Sunday as well. God is good!”

“Overall the Lord has continued to remind us of our need for Him and has graciously been showing us how He is moving here in Toronto. We ask that you continue to pray for our work on campus, the church, and the kid’s camp. Please lift the students that we are meeting with one-on-one that their interest in the gospel would continue to grow into a profession of faith. Finally, pray for our team that we would go into this next week of camp with the same joy and attitude of the first one and not allow comparison to corrupt how we view the importance of this next week.”

(* Names changed for security)



From the Guatemala team – “This week was great to have a Servant Life team and to see a full week. We were able to go to Zone 7 this week which is an area in Guatemala City, to do a VBS in a school. The team split up and did Crafts, Recreation, and a Bible lesson. There were about 320 kids 1st-6th grade. On one of the days, a few of the kids on the team shared their testimony with the older kids and many older boys prayed to receive Christ. It was an awesome sight to see.”

“Please pray for the people of Veremina whom we visited and spent time with this week, for their physical needs as well as spiritual needs. Pray that the children there, as well as all over Guatemala, will come to find Jesus as their Provider and their source of worth instead of worldly possessions, gangs, or prostitution.”

Our A1eight Project teams have experienced some great weeks. They’ve also had their fair share of challenges. Serving through international missions is incredible, but hard. You can’t always tell from an Instagram or tweet that there are tough days. It’s important in those difficult times to remember who God is and why He has you where he does. Guatemala team member, Elizabeth, has this to say about following The Lord in the midst of the hard days:

“This week was different in many ways. We were all three able to experience what the ministry looks like at Camp Calvary and be in a village that does not have many type of christian influences. It was a week that I could tell God was working in great ways in the area, but that also meant that Satan was working just as hard to stop all the good that was happening. This week was hard, but it was also good for us to go through. It brought us closer as a staff and as interns. We learned how to be flexible and adapt to the team and their needs whatever that might be. We were exhausted from days in the sun and long nights of prep work for VBS, but I think we would all agree that it helped us truly rely on God for strength and patience. God was at work this week and He is always in the end successful no matter how defeated and frustrated we might feel.



The Lord has done incredible work during this pioneer summer of The A1eight Project. Please join us in praying for those our teams have come in contact with and that they will finish their assignment well. We are expectant for future summers!

If you’d like more information about the A1eight Project, check out our website or find us on Twitter/Instagram: @A1eightProject.

– J. Roger Davis, Executive Director of Servant Life