The Power of a Family Mission Trip

Rich Bennett, the Vice President of Ministry & Marketing Strategy for Focus on the Family, recently went on a family missions trip with Adventures to Chicago. He wrote on Focus on the Family’s Dad Matters blog about his family’s experience and the impact of living missionally wherever we are.

I met a super friendly cook named Anthony while my family and I were in Chicago recently. At least, he used to be a cook.

“The best!” he told my wife and me, with a big toothy smile.

That was before Anthony’s legs got so bad that he could barely stand any more. He lost his job as a chef, and ultimately, his home. Now, the streets are his home. They have been for eight years.

Anthony’s sign, which read simply, “Any kindness would be appreciated. God bless you,” drew us to him. “A lot of people think I’m lazy. That I don’t want to work. Couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Mission tripMy family and I met Anthony, and others who now live on the streets, while on a mission trip to the Windy City earlier this month. Last week, I mentioned that going on a mission trip together as a family was one of our family “bucket list” items. That is, things we wanted to experience together as a family.

I think many people feel you need to go overseas for it to somehow truly count as a mission trip. The truth is, you don’t need to leave your country — let alone your city — to hit the mission field.

Our trip was organized by Adventures in Missions, which is one organization of many that puts together trips both internationally and domestically that are designed to share Christ’s love by doing any number of things to serve others.

Our very first day, we hopped on Chicago’s elevated train, aka “the L.” Our mission began there, praying to ask God to direct us to those who we might engage with. Many of those conversations didn’t go beyond simple chit chat. Others presented the opportunity to share something more meaningful, listen to someone’s story, or pray with someone going through a difficult time.

We also met others on the street, handing out a Dunkin’ Donut or a granola bar as a small demonstration of God’s love for them. It was an entry point to conversation, seeing where it might lead—possibly a chance to pray with them. Jose asked that I pray for his health. He’s feeling depressed after being on the streets for six months. He’s trying to find work, but it’s hard to come by.

For my daughter, helping kids with their homework and teaching them finger knitting, as part of an after-school program at the church we stayed at, may have been her favorite part.

My son said the best part of the trip for him was getting to make beds, serve meals and visit with those staying at Pacific Gardens, one of the city’s largest shelters which provides more than 1,300 meals a day, and houses nearly 500 men and women every night, 365 days a year.

“I realized that just being able to take the time to listen to someone’s story can really be meaningful to them,” my son said.

Our family has been blessed to take several trips over the years. But this latest trip was about blessing others. The funny thing is, we may have left more filled up with blessings than most of the trips we’ve taken purely for sight-seeing.

“I think The Lord sent you to me today,” Anthony told me as we handed him a Big Mac and a Coke. “I’ll be praying for you both,” he told us as we left.

We can now cross “Take a family missions trip” off our family bucket list. The fact is, that mission continues with the people we meet everywhere we go, the service opportunities we seek in our own community, and the needs we help meet of those God puts us in contact with. It’s a “trip” you and your family can take … right in your own hometown.

As Anthony reminded us: Any kindness is appreciated.

*Blog and photos by Rich Bennett, Dad Matters Blog

Interested in taking your family on a missions trip? Click here to find out more.