By Jayna Richardson
“I have shared my faith a lot through the years. To do this with my son was amazing.”
“I loved sharing clean physical and living spiritual water with others! It was also a great opportunity for families to be on mission together!”
“I saw how the kids on the trip were so joyful helping set up filters, making holes in buckets, and engaging with the kids in the homes.”
These were just a few of the reactions from mission trip team members following FamilyLife’s first family mission trip. This inaugural trip to the Dominican Republic provided an opportunity for families to grow in oneness as they shared their faith and served others in practical ways.
“Our vision is to create opportunities for families who want to grow in their walk with the Lord and go on mission together,” says Oscar Avalos, FamilyLife’s Director of Global Mobilization. “Often kids or teens tend to go on mission trips with a church or organization and the parents usually aren’t part of it. We thought, wouldn’t it be cool if the whole family could have this experience together?”
That vision came to fruition this past summer when FamilyLife partnered with Filter of Hope and invited 15 family units to spend a week in the Dominican Republic handing out water filters and sharing the gospel.
The participants received training to install and use the water filters and were also taught a simple way to share the gospel using an illustration involving dirty water and clean water to represent how Jesus makes us clean. Teams went door-to-door offering water filters, showing how the filters worked, and sharing their personal testimonies and the gospel message. Every team member, including the children, had something they could do. The youngest kids helped collect dirt for a filtering demonstration; older kids drilled holes in the buckets for the filter; teens and adults shared their faith and prayed with new believers. In the process, families not only got to witness the joy of seeing people come to Christ, but they also grew closer to each other as they shared an incredible experience.
During the three days of on-the-streets ministry, the team led several people to Christ. A woman approached one of the groups near the end of one presentation. She had tears in her eyes and said that she wasn’t a Christian but wanted to know more. After hearing the gospel, she said she wasn’t ready to receive Christ, but she eventually revealed that it was because she felt the need to be clean first. The group reminded her of the illustration they had previously given, showing that pouring clean water into dirty water didn’t make the dirty water clean. They assured her of God’s love and that He wanted to make her clean, and that only He had the power to do so. She then prayed to receive Christ with tears of joy.
One participant shared that in addition to blessing many others while on this trip, their own family had experienced personal blessings too. “I had the privilege of leading several people to Christ after sharing my personal story and presenting the gospel. I saw my children’s perspective on material possessions change. I saw them grow in confidence and develop more of a heart to reach people with the good news.”
One priority of FamilyLife mission trips is to include time for family devotions and hands-on activities to help families explore spiritual truths together. These times were invaluable in providing training, spiritual nourishment, and a bit of fun to equip and encourage each family as they prepared to do ministry.
And what would a trip to the Dominican Republic be without a day of fun to enjoy the culture? Families had the opportunity at the end of the trip to hike up a small mountain and descend alongside waterfalls. The activity provided a final bonding experience for families and gave them an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate all that God had done through them during the week.
Additional FamilyLife mission trips are in the works. FamilyLife will be partnering with Filter of Hope again in April and June 2023 for trips to countries like Cuba, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. FamilyLife also plans to partner with Unto® (Cru’s humanitarian aid ministry) to organize eye clinics in Southeast Asia next summer, as well as other mission organizations inside and outside of Cru. An August 2023 mission trip to the boardwalk in New Jersey will be an opportunity for families to do evangelism together.
FamilyLife is excited to team up with mission organizations and families to share the good news of the gospel and see families develop a passion for serving God—together.
Editor’s note: If you would like to suggest a ministry that could be a good partner for FamilyLife mission trips, or if you’re interested in going on a mission trip yourself, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.