Servant Life Blog

Fundraising

Sometimes the word “fundraising” strikes fear into the hearts of mission trip participants.  No one likes feeling as if they’re begging for money. Plus, trying to raise money for your trip can seem like a daunting and potentially discouraging task.

This is where we come in! We want to provide tips that you might find useful as you begin the process of funding your mission trip.

First of all, here’s what we believe about fundraising:

– Let’s face it: fundraising is essential.  The reality of mission trips is that they cost money.  If done the right way, fundraising can be very beneficial.

– Servant Life believes strongly in partnerships.  One of the best things you can do in terms of fundraising is to establish partnerships.  You’re not asking for a handout.  You’re asking for people to come alongside you and support you in your mission.

– Give potential donors a reason to give. Clearly and thoroughly explain your mission trip to people.  Show them that what you are doing is worth an investment.

– Being an efficient and organized planner while benefit your fundraising efforts more than you can imagine.

Fundraising doesn’t have to be scary! So, to help you, we will periodically be posting fundraising tips and ideas.  Here’s one to start:

 

Percent Night!

A great idea to help raise funds for your mission trip is to have a percent night at a local restaurant.  The way this works is that on a specific night, a restaurant will allow a percentage of their profits to go toward your organization. Then all you have to do is get the word out to your friends and family! Simply tell the people you know to mention your organization when they order.  Restaurants that participate in fundraising opportunities like this include Chick-fil-a, McAlister’s, Chipotle, Subway, and Pizza Hut (just to name a few!). You can do some research and contact restaurants in your area to see about setting up a percent night.

 

Partner Spotlight: Northern Uganda

 

Currently, the country of Uganda has over 2.5 million orphans.  In light of this unsettling statistic, Four Corners Ministries exists to spread the Gospel in East Africa by building relationships with orphans and families.  Through this ministry, the team at Four Corners seeks to provide aid to orphans while demonstrating the love that Christ has modeled.  Most recently, FCM has established Abaana’s Hope, a project that is very close to the heart of Four Corners President, Tripp Skipper.  The desire for Abaana’s Hope is to provide holistic care for orphans through a new children’s village.  The goal is to raise up the future leaders of Uganda who will care for and support their community just as they have experienced.  In serving with Four Corners, teams can expect to help with one or more specific areas such as education, emergency relief, evangelism and orphan care.  Without a doubt, serving with Four Corners will stretch, grow and challenge anyone.  To learn more about how you can be a part, visit fourcorners.org or servantlife.com/trips.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

 

Store Ad

 

T-shirts. Patches. Wrist bracelets. Click on the picture or the “Store” tab above to get great Servant Life gear while funding global missions! 

 

Ukraine: Then and Now

Then and Now

In 2009, Heather Harris and the Midtowners in Ukraine took pictures of the kids to bring back to Nashville so that the church could pray for the kids. I picked up one of the pictures. It was two kids, both with happy little smiles. The name on the back of the photo said Dima Pelepenko and corresponded to the kid with the blond hair on the left. And he was maybe 11-12 years old. That was all I knew of him when I picked up the picture in 2010.

I went to a few “pray for the kids” meetings at Midtown. I placed the picture in my journal and started praying for Dima everyday and most times for his little friend too even though I didn’t know his name.

It worked out for me to go to Ukraine in August 2012. A few weeks and months before the trip, Heather found out that Dima might be coming to the camp for the first time since 2009. The two of us were getting really excited about Dima and I meeting. As the days drew near and we finally arrived at camp and Heatherconfirmed that Dima was there. She told me that she would introduce us when we got a breather at camp.

God’s timing is so perfect. As I was leaving my room on the 5th night of camp, John, the youth pastor with the Philly team, came out of his adjacent room. Together we chatted and walked down to the front door of the dorm. John saw Lesya and Dima and walked over.  I raced back up to my room and grabbed my journal with Dima’s picture in it. I came back down and John was talking to Dima with Lesya translating. He asked Dima what he thought about God. Dima said he believed in God but wasn’t sure about going to Heaven. In that moment, I could sense the Holy Spirit speaking through John as he witnessed to Dima. And then John asked Dima if he wanted to pray, but only do it if he really wanted to. Dima said yes and John started praying for him and Dima repeated. Right before John, Dima, and Lesya started praying, Heather walked up so I grabbed her too. The prayer went something along the lines of, “I’ve tried many different ways to take care of myself, Lord. But I need you in my life and I trust you God. I’m ready to follow you” Then I started explaining my side of the story and how I’d been praying for him.

It was just the most perfect way God could’ve brought me and Dima together. I prayed for protection for Dima and that he would get to know the Lord. I still can’t get over the fact that I got to witness what I’d been praying for him over the past two years. God prepared me for two and a half years, matured me and allowed me to grow before meeting Dima. I was able to keep up with Dima after I left Ukraine. He graduated from his school/orphanage in April 2013. I was able to go back to Ukraine in July 2013. He came back to camp even though he didn’t have to. He’s currently in school and has a church family.  I can’t believe how amazingly God has worked in both of our lives through each other.

 

Prithvi Muddana

 

Since the fall of Communism in the late 80’s the doors to the Gospel have been opened in this former gem of the Soviet Union. This past month, we made a quick trip over to see our long-time friends and partners Oleg & Lena Vasilevsky who lead Radooga (www.radooga.com) there in Ukraine. I am always encouraged when I spend time with them and their team. Their love and vision for their country is contagious as they continue to reach out to young people and expand their ministry to orphans around the country. We were able to spend time with not only their year round staff, but some of their seasonal employees.  These young people carry the same spirit that you find with the thousands of American college students that work camps each summer.  It was great to hear a bit of these stories as well as stories of others that give their time to advance the Gospel in Ukraine.

I also spent a day with their year round staff that one friend said should have been called Secret Church for camp.  We began talking methods, models and philosophies at 9 am and went solid until leaving their small offices at 6:30 pm.  It was so refreshing for me to spend time with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, talking about how we reach young people in the states and how they do the same in Ukraine.  It really is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ.

Radooga needs American teams to come over and spend time serving alongside their staff in two main programs.  The first are English Language Camps, where groups spend time side-by-side with Ukrainian teenagers in Bible study, worship, recreation and teaching English classes.

The second allows for teams to go lead Orphan Camps for government funded orphanages throughout the country while spending time sharing the love of Christ with kids and teenagers that typically spend their summer with nothing to do.

Then, England…

Victor Hugo, the French writer that gave us Les Miserables once said, “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England.”  With the Bible at the core of the country, you likely don’t think of England as a place that is in need of missionary help.  However where we visited in Northeast England, 97% of the population claims to not have a relationship with Christ.  The country gave us great missionaries such as Hudson Taylor and has a rich faith history, but now is full of beautiful church buildings that are closing and becoming gyms, offices and civic clubs (we visited a few.) England is in desperate need of a spiritual awakening.

But how awesome is it that the Queen (obviously fully under the control of a sovereign God) years ago mandated that all schools provide religious education in the schools? Many of those very schools are asking our friend and missions partner, Mike Taylor and the gap year students of UK-USA Ministries to go into the schools and teach the students about Christianity.  Hello, are you getting that? There is an open invitation to go into the schools and talk about Jesus, the Scriptures and faith. And they are doing just that and seeing amazing things happen in town after town, school after school, and life after life.

Additionally, they are running after school programs for kids and students, various youth ministry activities throughout the year and camps during the summers.  Teams that serve with Servant Life will get to experience great life-on-life opportunities to share their faith and grown in it as well.

Before visiting, I was thrilled we were partnering with Mike and his team as we work together to advance the Gospel in England.  After visiting, I have wanted to share with everyone I can about the remarkable work and great need in a country that is often overlooked in the missions conversations.  Serving in England will not cause you to have to learn a new language (however a few accents might be hard to understand) nor will you likely be concerned about what you will eat, but no doubt you will leave forever changed.

Regardless of it being Ukraine, England, or another country, I encourage you to get into the action of responding to the Great Commission.

 

– J. Roger Davis, Servant Life Executive Director

Servant Life Helped Me Realize My Vision For Students

 

I had been a student minister for 16 years before I really sat down to hammer out some purpose statements and visions for student ministry at my church. I kept it simple and decided on KNOW, GROW, and GO. Simply put, I wanted students coming to First Baptist Church in Russellville, Alabama, to have an opportunity through events and weekly Bible studies to KNOW how to accept Christ as Savior, to GROW in their faith, and to GO into the world and share the Gospel through mission and ministry.

While mission trips were a yearly part of our ministry, it was not until 2012 that we took our first international mission trip with Servant Life. Our group of thirteen along with three students from other states served in Costa Rica at La Montana Christian Camp up in the Cloud Forest region of the country. The experience of seeing a different part of the world and meeting people from a different culture was incredible.  The pinnacle of the week was the worship service on the last night of camp at La Montana.

Costa Rican students responded in huge numbers to the invitation and while I was standing at the back of the auditorium watching this happen, one by one all of the American students on our mission team started to make their way to the altar. Even with the language barrier they prayed with students, cried with them, and embraced them. I was actually seeing the entire plan God had given me for students unfold right before me. There the students were, GOING into the world and sharing a Gospel that at that moment had no barriers because they were sharing the bond of God’s love.

The Servant Life experience was awesome. They took care of all the flights and details of getting us where we needed to be in Costa Rica so all we had to do was just concentrate on ministering to students and help with daily duties at the camp. We went back to Costa Rica in 2013 and are planning to go again in 2014. In Costa Rica, I got to see the fulfillment of a dream. I had the opportunity see my students minister to others in an amazing worship service and to say, “That’s the progression I want to see in students involved in student ministry at First Baptist Church.” Thank you Servant Life for helping me help students to experience what it is like to GO and take the Gospel to the world.

 

Richard Parker, student minister, FBC Russellville AL 

5 Ways To Ruin Your Short Term Mission Trip

There are plenty of things you can do to ensure you have a great mission trip.  On the flip side of that, there’s even more ways you can sabotage your short term mission trip…

1. Have an “It’s all about me” attitude.  If you want to have a terrible mission trip, then definitely act as if the world revolves around you.  Plus, you’re the one going to help other people, so they should be worshipping the ground you walk on, right?

“For I say to every man that is among you, through the grace given unto me, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3

2.  By all means, don’t be flexible.  If you don’t live out the words of Philippians 2:14 to “do all things without grumbling or questioning” then you are guaranteed to have a trip full of complaints.

For this, just read all of Philippians 2.  Seriously, go read it. Right now.

3.  Don’t devote yourself to prayer or time in the Word.  Why would you do that?  Spending time talking to the Lord and studying His word only ensures that your heart will be aligned with His will.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

4.  Deliver empty words.  Surely, the people to whom you’ll minister will be hanging on to every word you say.  That means you should just say whatever sounds best.  There’s no need to make sure your words are rooted in Scripture or anointed by the Holy Spirit.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

5.  Think your mission trip is terrible because you didn’t see much fruit.  So you didn’t see hundreds of people come to know Christ? Your trip was a bust then.  Forget what people say about “planting seeds,” YOU must have done something wrong.

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-9

(We want you to have the best mission trip possible. So please do the opposite of these 5 things. Always keep the Lord and the gospel in the forefront of your mind!)

The following is an excerpt from an article by Jackie Knapp entitled How God Changes Us While We ‘Change’ the World. You can read the entire article on The Gospel Coalition’s website here.

“If we enter service expecting to be changed first, we will be much better equipped for the journey. If we are prepared to ask forgiveness from the people we are trying to serve, we will actually learn to show someone Christ, because we believe we need him too.  If we begin by praying that God would use these experiences to rescue us from ourselves, rather than being the rescuer, then we will learn to see his grace in our weakness.

If we daily meditate on these principles, we are freed to get out of the way and actually see God work. We are freed from insisting that our agenda, strategy, and timeline is perfect and instead begin to see what he is doing, not only in the world, but also in our own hearts.”

 

You can also follow The Gospel Coalition on Twitter at @TGC

Missionary kid.

Those two words probably don’t induce an image of a child passionately following their parent’s spiritual footsteps.

The stereotypical wayward path of the MK is being broken by a family of missionaries high in the Tilarán Mountain Range of Costa Rica at La Montaña Christian Camp where children play sports, hear the Gospel and grow in their faith.

Joe Pent Sr. and his wife Clara originally followed the typical career path after graduating from Moody Bible Institute by taking a job as a youth pastor in Chicago for a few years.

But God had other plans, tugging on the young youth pastor’s heart to go into the mission field and minister to teens. In 1962, Joe accepted a position with the Latin America Mission because the missions organization would allow him to focus on young people in Costa Rica.

Joe Pent, Jr. explains, “Right from the beginning, [Dad] developed a ministry to young people working with evangelism, discipleship. That developed a dynamic of renting facilities, going to different camps, using those different facilities and created a desire and the focus to someday develop our own Christian camp.”

Joe Jr. was born and grew up in Costa Rica during his father’s 47 years as a missionary and caught the vision for youth ministry at a young age. By 13, he was speaking to groups where his family ministered. Joe Pent Sr. said all three of his sons served and led in their barrio (poor neighborhood) ministry and national youth movement, Movimiento Cristiano Juventud Nueva, which Joe Sr. founded with a friend from Colombia.

“When the national youth movement was founded in 1980, even though Joe Jr. was in early adolescence, he and his brothers each became part of a barrio leadership team, planning and directing weekly meetings, camps, prayer retreats and many other unique programs,” Joe Sr. said. “

“As leaders, they were part of an outstanding discipleship committed wholly to Jesus Christ, and they were witnesses to all God was doing in many young lives.”

Joe Jr. said his involvement in the family’s ministry helped him stay strong in his faith. Since his parents lived out their own teachings, he was able to see the practical application of faith – and in the kids they ministered to, the consequences of falling away.

“During their ministry years (that continue today) I personally witnessed the transformed lives of tens of thousands of young people,” he said. “I saw the Lord change hearts and lives that left me impacted with the power and the need to continue to use Christian camping to reach countless more.”

Three anonymous donations enabled the Pents to fulfill their calling of a permanent camp ministry. A Costa Rican company, led by a Christian couple who shared their vision for ministry, donated the original 550 acres of cloudforest (land at an elevation that literally places it within clouds). Two other financial gifts, each enough for an additional 80 acres, were given by Christians in the U.S. Joe Sr. said he considers this the most recent of the many miracles he has seen throughout his life.

The Pent family converted the miraculously donated land into a fully functioning camp, complete with water blob, ropes courses, archery, etc. Because La Montana transports Costa Rican youth far from the pressures and distractions of daily life, it allows them to focus on God — which has prompted amazing spiritual transformation. The Pents make sure each camper that becomes a new Christian gets connected to a local church for immediate, deeper discipleship.

“Discipleship has always been my passion throughout the almost 50 years of youth ministry in Costa Rica,” Joe Sr. said.

And the legacy grows. Both Joe Jr. Kannada dictionary and his wife felt called to camp ministry and they are passing on their enthusiasm for youth ministry to their kids: their oldest son is currently studying youth ministry at Azusa Pacific University.

“Like my parents before me, my three kids have also become very involved in serving in the ministry,” he said. “They all love it and look forward to the opportunities that it provides. That is the key: We all love what we do and we all feel equally involved in it.

“Kids today are so bombarded with options for fulfillment. I want my kids to know that the only true way to be filled is in Christ,” he said.

Joe Jr. recommends mission trips to parents and youth leaders as a way to give teens a broader global perspective.

“You know, your U.S. kid is living in a bubble,” he said. “Their reality is based on their experience. Until you take them out of that comfort zone and out of that reality and expose them to as many places as you can, then what it does is throws open the blinders of the limited reality that they have and it really expands their worldview.”

He said youth ministry is different in Costa Rica compared to the U.S. because of the Costa Ricans’ openness to the Gospel. Often, a typical U.S. teen doesn’t see the need for Christ because of all that they already have.

“Their cup is full. What we need to do in the U.S. is pursue ministry that knocks the cup out of their hands so that they can come face to face with how empty they really are and in need to be filled and FULL-filled,” he said.

Missions can also open teens’ ears to hearing what God is speaking in their own lives. He encourages challenging teens to follow the call of Deuteronomy 10:12-13 in seeking to love God with their hearts, souls and minds.

“I would include in that searching that they earnestly develop a life of prayer (talking and hanging out with God). If there is one thing our world needs today, it’s prayer.”

A tremendous spiritual legacy blooms – for one family as well as the nation of Costa Rica – because Joe Pent Sr. responded to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. And it won’t stop there as the ministry looks to help believers form their own camp ministries in other Latin American countries, including a new camp opportunity in Cuba.

“God’s work, done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply,” he said. “I believe the same miracles will happen in Cuba in the not-too-distant future.”

You can plant a legacy as well, and it doesn’t require moving to a foreign country or starting a camp. We impact eternity when we pour spiritually  into the lives of the children God places around us, whether that’s the teens in your group, the kids at your camps and events or the children who live in your home.

 

To serve at La Moñtana Christian Camp this summer, visit servantlife.com or connect via Twitter @servantlife.

 

Summer 2010 was by far the best summer of my life. I did not spend it, however, on the sandy shores at the Gulf, or lounging by the pool with my best friends. Instead, I was in the Ukrainian countryside, at my new favorite place in the world, Camp Friendship. For several years now, God has opened my eyes, and put love in my heart for the people of Ukraine. Ukraine is often portrayed as a dark place. However I know it in a completely different way.  I love this country. When I think of Ukraine, I think about Zhenya, the 11 year old orphan who has is so incredibly smart,  who could melt the hardest of hearts with his sweet smile, and who is a new brother in Christ. I think of Lera, the 16 year-old girl from the city. She has a great sense of humor, but is struggling with many things that most American teenagers struggle with. I think about Marina, the girl who told me that her family is Muslim and if they knew she had been at a Christian camp, she would be beaten, but who also loved learning about God. She was joyful, and although quiet, could brighten anyone’s day. I think of all the little boys in my group that I taught. How they soaked up every word like sponges, even if it looked like they were not listening. About 400 kids attended Camp Friendship while I was there, therefore 400 beautiful reasons why I love Ukraine.

Being able to serve in a camp setting is phenomenal! Camp Friendship is located in the Lughansk region of Ukraine.    The camp schedule is kind of set up like Student life camp. The mornings are filled with music time, small groups, crafts and games.  After lunch is recreation and free time!!  We played water games, ultimate Frisbee, freeze tag, and much more!! The screaming and laughter from the rec field could be heard all over camp.  Free time was one of my favorite parts of the day because that is when we really got to spend a lot of time one on one with the kids. Getting to know the kids is definitely the most rewarding thing about being there. God uses the staff and Americans there to show them His love, and teach them about Him. It is a wonderful thing to witness children coming to know the Lord. From the time they get up, to when they go to sleep, the campers are filled up with the Word. uncp blackboard They see how there Ukrainian and American leaders are set apart, and are different because they are filled with the Holy Spirit.  Camp Friendship has been going on for a few years now, and they are beginning to see the fruit of what they are doing.  God is rising up a generation to be strong in him tell others about His awesome and everlasting love.

God taught me so much during my time in Ukraine. He taught me how to strive to love unconditionally, as he loves us. During the first camp I taught eight teen 10-11 year old boys. I know right… what did I get myself into?! The boys in that group were so amazing, but sometimes I just could not get them to listen! However a team member reminded me of something as I shared my frustrations. I explained that I was not upset because these kids just wou;dn’t listen, but because I had grown to LOVE these kids, and I wanted them to listen to what God was trying to tell them during our Bible study time together.  I was reminded by my friend that this is often what we do to God.  We tune him out and focus on other things when he is trying to speak to us and teach us! I might think I love these boys, but it is nothing compared to how God loves us.  I was really humbled by this, and I was able to be more patient with boys. By the end of camp, their sweet smiles and great company made it very hard to say goodbye. But I know that the Lord has a plan for each of them.  I hope that during our time together they each saw Jesus in me throughout the camp. Some of them gave their lives to Christ, while at camp, and it was a beautiful sight to watch God transform them! To God be the glory!

I could go on and on for days about everything I did at camp, but nothing can amount to what God did, in the lives of Americans, Ukrainian Staff, and campers.  God is truly doing great things in Lughansk, Ukraine and I think that is what draws me there and makes me love it. So I would love to tell you that the reason I go is for the food, (definitely not that) the accommodations, or even the beautiful scenery, however that would be a lie. I go because I have a Father in heaven who loves me and cares for me. Who commands me to go and teach all nations, and who allows me to be a part of the wonderful work he is doing around the world.

-Katelyn Brock

Click here if you want to be a part of what God is doing in Ukraine this summer!