Planning For The Unexpected On An Overseas Missions Trip


When you plan for an overseas missions trip, you should plan for the unexpected.  Things happen in the land you are visiting, and they also happen before you get there that impact your plans.

Six years ago, my wife and I were making plans for our first overseas missions trip to Nairobi, Kenya.  We were excited to serve in the slums of the Mathare Valley and local schools with a group from our church and missionaries from CMF (Christian Missionary Fellowship).  We attended many pre-trip meetings with our team, so we could learn about what we should expect on our trip.  We followed through by getting our vaccines.  We raised money to help offset the funds required for this two-week missions adventure.  And we paid for the trip which included the costs for airfare, passports, vaccinations, food, lodging, and transportation.

We believed we were following the plan of God when we signed up for this trip.

For this reason, we were very confused when we had to cancel plans for our trip four weeks before the trip.  Leanne was experiencing some significant health issues, and we prayerfully discerned that a trip to Africa was not ideal at this time.  I know for certain that we made the right decision.  Leanne’s health continued to decline for a period of time and required a hospital stay and a long recovery period.

We lost the money we paid for the trip, and we wondered if we would ever have the opportunity to experience overseas missions.

In addition, I struggled with the dilemma of responding to our donors.  So many people had given money to make this trip happen, and there was no way I could repay them.  Asking for money requires humility, and telling people their donation couldn’t be used as planned is beyond difficult.

Thankfully, we were surrounded by people of grace.  So many people reassured us along this journey.  They understood our situation, and they wanted to make sure we were healthy.  It didn’t come at first, but eventually, some of our friends and family even encouraged us that an overseas missions trip may still be a possibility for us.

Fast forward to 2012.  In the spring of 2012, the youth pastor at my church asked me to go to Guatemala with teenagers from our church’s youth group.  You can read more about that decision by clicking here and here.  It required a leap of faith, and it required a renewed humility.

I went on that trip with my daughter and 29 other teenagers, and I fell in love with the village of Xenacoj.  I also made an important connection with Dave Sgro with GO Ministries.  Little did I know at the time, our family would establish a relationship with Dave, GO Ministries, and the people of Xenacoj.  We are returning there for the third time as a family this summer (fourth time for me), and I am confident in our decision to go overseas again.

As part of this journey, I discovered the importance of Missions Travel Insurance and Trip Cancellation/Interruption Coverage.  This insurance would have prevented us from losing the monies we paid for our trip to Kenya, and it would have provided important coverage in the event something would have happened on this trip.  We haven’t had to use the insurance so far, but I feel much better knowing it has been in place for our past two trips to Guatemala.  And we’ve purchased this insurance for our upcoming trip this summer.

If you’re planning an overseas missions trip, I’d encourage you to check out Faith Ventures.  They’ve been very helpful in setting my mind at ease as we prepare to return to Guatemala.

Missions Travel Insurance and Trip Cancellation/Interruption Coverage covers things like:  lost baggage, emergency evacuation, medical expenses, and trip costs in the event of cancellation or interruption.  Based on our experience, we will be purchasing this coverage for our future overseas missions trips.

Worth noting, Leanne’s health has been great following her recovery over five years ago.  She will tell you that her overseas missions experience has been life changing.  We are both amazed to see how God has worked through our dreams of serving overseas despite the challenges that life has thrown our way.

What concerns do you have about overseas missions?  What is holding you back from serving overseas?  Share your thoughts in the comments.