By Jennifer Johnson
More than 1 million American Christians participate in short-term mission trips each year, and many churches build their missions strategy around opportunities to engage members in these experiences. However, not every church has relationships with missionaries who need help, expertise in planning the trip and prepping participants, or enough interested members to create a team.
Andy Newton created Ministro Journeys to remove these obstacles and make it easier for churches and individuals to get involved.
While serving as associate missions director at Southland Christian Church (Lexington, KY), Newton often received inquiries from professional groups and smaller churches that wanted help finding a way to serve. He launched Ministro this year to assist with every step of the process, including matching people to needs around the world, coordinating travel logistics, developing emergency contingency plans, training group leaders and members, and even assisting in support-raising ideas and advertising.
“We can step into any part of the process,” he says. “One of the things I’m most passionate about is sending well-prepared teams; I get lots of feedback from missionaries on the field who say how flexible, humble, and culturally prepared our teams are.”
Follow-up after return to the States is another important focus; Newton says he’s seen lifelong friendships develop among people who met for the first time on a trip, and some have even gone into full-time ministry because of their experience.
“There are others who go into total meltdown, feeling guilty about what they have and wanting to sell everything,” he says. “It’s important to help people process their experience and then be able to share it with others.”
Besides benefiting churches and groups wanting to serve, Newton says Ministro also helps missionaries.
“A missionary in Mozambique is currently supported by five small churches in Kentucky,” he says. “He has been encouraging the churches to visit and see the work, and one or two people from each church want to go. But they don’t feel comfortable going alone, and they aren’t sure how to get started. So we’ve formed a group of members from all five churches that will make the journey together.
“I love it—not only are some Americans visiting Africa for the first time and encouraging their missionary, but they’re also breaking down barriers between churches and uniting around a common purpose.”
Learn more at www.ministrojourneys.org.