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Mission Trips

What is the mission trip experience all about?

A short-term mission trip is an exciting, engaging experience in which faith is put into action by partnering with brothers and sisters from different cultures and life experiences.

Mt Pleasant Presbyterian Church of Mt Pleasant, South Carolina, mission trip to LaCeiba, Honduras. Photo by Ed Wagner

Mt Pleasant Presbyterian Church of Mt Pleasant, South Carolina, mission trip to LaCeiba, Honduras. Photo by Ed Wagner

Participation in a mission trip offers you and your church group a chance to share your time and talents with mission partners from other countries and other cultures and to learn, worship and serve together.

Equipping for Mission Involvement is the PC(USA) World Mission program that provides resources that will help you and your mission partners to see themselves with new eyes as, together, you cross cultural and spiritual borders.  When you return home, we can help you to continue the growth you experienced on your trip  in a variety of ways.

Tools for trip leaders

As you prepare and plan for your mission trip experience, find ways to ensure that it is an enriching experience for both you and the community you will be visiting. Use the resources below as you begin your journey in God’s incredible mission.

Planning and leading a mission trip

  • Doing Short Term Mission Well: Prepare, learn and sharedownload here or click here for online access
    Presbyterian Outlook article written by Ellen Sherby, coordinator for Equipping for Mission Involvement.
  • How do you decide on the destination for a mission trip?download here
    Deciding on your mission trip destination is a discernment process that can engage your congregation’s or presbytery’s mission committee and other groups. The questions in this document will help your group in the discernment process of selecting a destination.
  • Best Practices for Mission Tripsdownload here
    Follow these suggestions to ensure your group has a great mission trip experience.
  • Sample Mission Trip Scheduledownload here
    Use this mission trip schedule template to ensure that your trip offers a good balance between activity and relationship-building; action and reflection; giving and receiving.
  • Great Mission Trips: Tips for Leadersdownload here
    Use this guide if you are the mission trip leader to help you plan a meaningful and well-organized mission trip.
  • Doing Good…Says Who? goes deep into best practices for mission, featuring five stories that explore key principles centered on mutual respect and trust. The book includes a discussion guide.  Learn more
  • When God’s People Travel Togetherclick here
    A three-volume set, including a leader’s manual, a resource to help participants reflect on their experiences and Bible studies on partnership
  • Faith in Action, by Stephen Knisely and Gabrielle Beasley – click here
    A two-volume set for reflection on sustainable mission involvement. Interactive sessions by Gabrielle Beasley offers practical lessons and worksheets for mission education.

Reflection and education about short-term mission

  • The Power of Empty Hands – Article written by Hunter Farrell, former director of Presbyterian World Mission, while he was serving in Peru – download here
  • What We Bring With Us: A letter from Doug Orbaker, former mission co-worker in Nicaragua – download here
    Mission is the life we bring with us when we go to another place to serve, and it is the even richer life that we take back with us when we return.
  • When Canned Food Drives Are No Longer Enoughdownload here
    Presbyterians Today article written by Christine Coy Fohr, a former World Mission consultant for mission leaders.

Find mission trip opportunities

  • For international mission trips, group leaders are encouraged to contact PC(USA) mission co-workers in the region to seek more information and enter a process of discernment. These partnership facilitators walk alongside groups as they plan, lead and reflect on mission experiences. They can be helpful to you before, during and after your mission trip. For a list of these contacts and the regions in which they work, click here.
  • For information on national mission opportunities, please click here.
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Additional mission opportunities

Disaster relief mission trips
Information on how your group can help communities affected by disasters.

Presbyterian Women Mission Trips
Presbyterian Women also organizes regular trips to participate in mission work or learn about the mission needs of a particular region.

Please note that a listing on this Web page does not imply an endorsement of the mission site by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Contacts for Mission Trips and Partnerships

Mission Trips

Interested in planning an international mission trip, but don’t know where to start? Want to establish a long-term mission partnership, but would like some guidance? Many of our mission co-workers serve as partnership facilitators, helping to connect US Presbyterians with sites around the world. They may be able to help you as you begin this mission journey!

Where applicable, we’ve included partner site information for your convenience.

Africa | Asia | Europe and Central Asia | Latin America and the Caribbean | Middle East

AFRICA (see map)

  • Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Equatorial Guinea

Contact: Jeff Boyd – jeff.boyd@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Jeff’s ministry

  • Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan

Contact: Michael Weller – michael.weller@pcusa.org
Read about Michael’s ministry

  • Ghana, Niger, and Nigeria

Contact: Josh Heikkila – joshua.heikkila@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Josh’s ministry

  • Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe

Contact: Doug Tilton – douglas.tilton@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Doug’s ministry

  • Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Zambia

Contact: Nancy Collins – nancy.collins@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Evangelism, leadership development, and church growth work of PC(USA) partners
Read about Nancy’s ministry

Partner site highlight: CCAP Zambia Education Department

Website: ccapzambia.org

Minimum number in group: 10

Maximum number in group: 15

Minimum age required for volunteer: 15 years old and above

CCAP Zambia Education Department personnel are experienced in all aspects of arranging a work trip, including local transportation, meals, and accommodation. Many school construction sites are in rural areas. Groups will be assisted by CCAP Zambia Education Dept. personnel to establish a “campsite” at the construction location – perhaps using existing school structures for sleeping areas and dining areas. Cooking will be done outside. Cook, cooking equipment and food supplies can be provided by CCAP Zambia Dept. of Education. Work will be done with assistance from people in the local community. There will be opportunity for Bible studies and worship with community members, for arranging children’s programs, for cultural exchanges, and for evening campfires with singing and story-telling. CCAP Zambia Department of Education personnel will work with group leaders before the trip to define the objectives of the trip, the scope of work and the level of accommodation the group desires.

ASIA (see map)

  • China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan

Contact: Choon and Yen Hee Lim – choon.lim@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Choon and Yen’s ministry

  • Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam

Contact: Barry and Shelly Dawson – bdawson5@gmail.com
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Barry and Shelly’s ministry

  • Hong Kong

Contact: Judy Chan – judy.chan@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Judy’s ministry

Contact: Myoung Ho Yang and Ji Yeon Yoo –  myoungho.yang@pcusa.org, jiyeon.yoo@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about J Myoung Ho Yang and Ji Yeon Yoo’s ministry

  • Japan

Contact: Bill and Ann Moore– bill.moore@pcusa.org, ann.moore@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Bill and Anne’s ministry

Contact: Thomas Goetz– thomas.goetz@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Long-term volunteer
Read about Thomas’ ministry

  • The Philippines

Contact: Cathy Chang and Juan Lopez – cathy.chang@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Migration and Human Trafficking
Read about Cathy and Juan’s ministry

Contact: Cobbie and Dessa Palm–  cobbie.palm@pcusa.org, dessa.palm@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Mission Facilitator, Evangelism, Advocacy
Read about Cobbie and Dessa’s ministry

  • South Asia, Sri Lanka

Contact: Gary and Marlene Van Brocklin– gvbhonolulu@gmail.com, mmvbhonolulu@gmail.com
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Gary and Marlene’s ministry

  • Thailand

Contact: Amy Davisson Galetzka– amy.davisson@pcusa.org 
Ministry focus: Reconciliation
Read about Amy’s ministry

Contact: Esther Wakeman– esther.wakeman@pcusa.org  
Ministry focus: Spiritual Guidance
Read about Esther’s ministry

Contact: Leith and Carol Fujii– leith.fujii@pcusa.org  
Ministry focus: Theology and Evangelism
Read about Leith’s and Carol’s ministry

Contact: Sharon Bryant– sharon.bryant@pcusa.org  
Ministry focus: Coordinator of Christian Volunteers Thailand Program (CVT)
Read about Sharon’s ministry

  • South Korea

Contact: Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee– kurt.esslinger@pcusa.org, hyeyoung.lee@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) Program
Read about Kurt and Hyeyoung’s ministry

  • Taiwan

Contact: John McCall– john.mccall@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about John’s ministry

  •  Taiwan

Contact: Jonathan and Emily Seitz– jonathan.seitz@pcusa.org, emily.seitz@pcusa.org 
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Johnathan and Emily’s ministry

EUROPE (see map)

  • Eastern Europe

Contact: Ellen Smith – ellen.smith@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Ellen’s ministry

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN (see map)

  • Andean Region (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela) and Colombia

Contact: Sarah Henken – sarah.henken@pcusa.org
Mission Focus: Partnership
Read about Sarah’s ministry

  • Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay

Contact: Dennis Smith – dennis.smith@pcusa.org
Ministry Focus: Partnership
Read more about Dennis’ ministry

  • Bolivia

Contact: Chenoa Stock – chenoa.stock@pcusa.org
Ministry Focus: Joining Hands Partnership
Read about Chenoa’s ministry

  • Costa Rica

Contact: Elisabeth Cook – elisabeth.cook@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Latin America Biblical University
Read about Elisabeth’s ministry

Partner site highlight: Bolivian Joining Hands, UMAVIDA (Joining Hands for Life)

Website: umavida.org.bo

Minimum age required for volunteer: 15 years old and above

UMAVIDA works with communities affected by the mining industry, supporting them to raise their voice for environmental justice by learning about water contamination, their rights, and the actions they can take to make a change. As a Joining Hands site, UMAVIDA usually offers “Reflection/Action” trips for already-established US presbytery partners, but these are open to anyone. Participants are invited to come and see and experience the first-hand reality of the country through a process of community visits, meetings and faith reflections. Trips do not focus on providing a work/service/learning project, such as building a house, school, etc. Their mission looks to create long-term solutions and change, and uses these visits and exposure to enable the participants to reflect on joint actions that can be taken to address the issues seen.

  • Dominican Republic and Caribbean region

Contact: Jo Ella Holman – joella.holman@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Jo Ella’s ministry 

  • Guatemala, Mexico and the US border

Contact: Amanda Craft and Omar Chan – amanda.craft@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Amanda and Omar’s ministry 

  • Guatemala

Contact: Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer – sandi.thompson-royer@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Reconciliation and Women’s Issues
Read about Sandi and Brian’s ministry

  • Guatemala

Contact: Leslie Vogel – leslie.vogel@pcusa.org
Ministry Focus: Partnership
Read about Leslie’s ministry

Partner site highlight: The Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA)

Website: cedepca.org/en/programs/intercultural-encounters

Minimum number in group:

Maximum number in group: 35 suggested, but negotiable

Minimum age required for volunteer: 14 years old and above preferred

CEDEPCA is an educational institution that contributes to the transformation of lives and contexts by providing training and accompaniment, and by offering spaces for reflection to women and men from diverse Christian traditions, communities and contexts. Intercultural Encounters is a program that designs and facilitates experiences of encounter, reflection, dialogue, and mutual service between people of the United States and Canada with Central American communities in search of a more just, tolerant and equitable world.

  • Haiti

Contact: Cindy Corell – cindy.corell@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Joining Hands Against Hunger
Read about Cindy’s ministry

  • Nicaragua

Contact: Renee and Justin Sundberg – justinsundberg@hotmail.com
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Renee and Justin’s ministry

Partner site highlight: CEPAD

Website: cepadnica.org

Minimum number in group: 7 (fewer permitted for exploratory trips)

Maximum number in group: 18

Minimum age required for volunteer: 13 years old and above

 CEPAD trains communities to organize, write project proposals, and learn how to solve their own challenges. It also focuses on agriculture, helping to ensure sufficient food and a healthy diet. Groups focus their time on forging friendships and working together with Nicaraguans to help the needs of the community.

  • Peru

Contact: Sara Armstrong and Rusty Edmondson – sara.armstrong@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Sara and Rusty’s ministry

  • US–Mexico Border

Contact: Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar – mark@fronteradecristo.org
Ministry focus: Frontera de Cristo
Read more about Mark and Miriam’s ministry

MIDDLE EAST (see map)

  • Middle East

Contact: Elmarie and Scott Parker – elmarie.parker@pcusa.org
Ministry focus: Partnership
Read about Elmarie and Scott’s ministry

Resources

Mission Trip Tools: Presbyterians Today article

This article – When Canned Food Drives Are No Longer Enough – from Presbyterians Today (2012) can serve as a starting point for congregations who want to do short-term mission trips. More resources, information and tools on short-term mission trips are available here.

Mission Trip Tools: Letter from Nicaragua

Mission is the life we bring with us when we go to another place to serve, and it is the even richer life that we take back with us when we return. This letter from former mission co-worker Doug Orbaker provides context for mission trips. More information, resources and tools for short-term mission trips are… Read more »

Mission Trip Tools: Tips for Leaders

Leaders humbly connect us in the Body of Christ, helping all participants in the short-term mission experience to learn from each other, reflect on how God is present in the place being visited, and perhaps to help us think about what the short-term experience will mean in the long-run after we return home. More resources,… Read more »

Mission Trip Tools: Sample Schedule

Use this mission trip schedule template to ensure that your trip offers a good balance between activity and relationship-building; action and reflection; giving and receiving. Find more information, tools and resources for short-term mission trips here.
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