Why college students should go on mission trips

Written by: Rylee Evans, staff writer

Rylee and her team members praying on a beach in Costa Rica.

College is a time to shape your identity and your future and traveling to do Christian mission work can help do that. While most college mission trips are short term, they will have a lasting impact. This is something I can attest to.

In March 2019, I had the pleasure to serve in Costa Rica with a Break for Change program through Bryan College. I did not have any intentions of going on a mission trip over spring break. In fact, I had planned on going to the beach with my friends. 

A map of Costa Rica.

After I started praying and opening myself up to God’s plan for me, I had a feeling I should talk to the director of outreach missions. With the intention of looking for a summer mission trip, I ended up being signed up for a spring trip. This meant I had to raise $1,400 in six weeks. 

The first thing I had to do to prepare for the trip was to renew my passport, which takes about six weeks. I took a new picture, filled out the information, and sent it off hoping would be back by the time we left. 

I was nervous because I did not know any of the team members or leaders, nor had I ever traveled out of the country for a mission trip. 

Despite all of these troubles, I never questioned or worried about the trip because I knew without a doubt that this is where God wanted me to be. None of the small problems set me back. My trip was paid for within four weeks, my passport came in within five weeks, and through team meetings, I grew closer to my team. 

I did not realize the blessings that would come out of traveling to Costa Rica. From the time my team left for the airport until the time we landed, the Lord Jesus Christ had His hand on us. It was not just about the work we were doing during our nine days there; in fact, I did not learn a thing from the labor we were doing there. 

Rather, the relationships we built and the connections we made were what made a difference. Chespi Sandoval, the preacher of the church we were staying at, Casa Vida Playa Azul, taught me so much. Sandoval was a man of conviction by the Holy Spirit. Before church service, he prayed for conviction of the crowd and the preacher. He lived by the Holy Spirit. Seeing a man live so much for the Lord is inspirational.

 He explained to us that the work we do in Costa Rica is not important. Every board we sanded or bunk bed we made was not important. Every brick we laid and vine we cut didn’t matter. He said that the relationships and words we spoke were more important than anything in this world. 

He was right. We become so infatuated with getting the job done that we forgot the real mission- to share the Gospel and God’s love. Sandoval was a constant reminder to be completely reliant on the Lord. 

That week we really put the power of prayer to the test. We had to work from dusk until dawn, and we were running on five or fewer hours of sleep every day. Looking back now, I know there was no way I would have had the energy to flourish in times like that on my own. 

The only way we got through the week was through prayer. We took turns taking a 15-minute prayer break throughout the day. When it was your turn, you sat off to the side in a quiet place for 15 minutes to pray. It was a constant reminder of our purpose and it rejuvenated us.  

Throughout the experience, I learned that mission trips are not about the work and jobs you are doing. It is about the relationships you build and the way God works through you. 

I can say that short term mission trips do not have short term effects. My life has been impacted tremendously from just this mission trip. I have also learned to be dependent on prayer. I want to pursue missions throughout my college career and beyond. 

As a college student, I think it is important for every college student to travel to do mission work. There are several things I learned during my trip to Costa Rica.

First, mission trips build the Christian community. When you are put in a vulnerable place, you have no choice but to rely on the people around you. 

When I traveled to Costa Rica, I didn’t know any of my team. However, we all returned to the States as close friends. We all try to keep each other accountable to this day. 

We also met members of the church we were working at. We didn’t even speak the same language as them, but through translators and attempts to speak different languages, we had the privilege to connect with them. We were able to worship and pray to the same God. Being able to see people from another culture worship and praise the same God is an indescribable experience. 

Mission trips also renew and transform lives. Traveling out of the country to work for the Lord cultivates a sense of confidence and initiative. 

From the time fundraising starts until the time the suitcase is unpacked, the student must learn how to be independent.

Seeing what kind of impact you can have can give you a sense of hope and motivation. In Costa Rica, the Lord worked through me and my team in so many ways. Seeing and feeling the works of the Lord gives you a revival of the heart. I personally was renewed in Costa Rica. 

Being placed in a poverty-stricken country broadens perspectives. It is a very humbling experience to step off of your high horse and get in the trenches with the natives. We tend to become unappreciative and ungrateful for what we live in today. 

Finally, mission trips challenge comfort zones. They demand all students’ participation.

While in Costa Rica, I used power tools, painted, built bunk beds, mixed/poured concrete and trimmed hedges. I ate new food and slept on a homemade bunk bed. Every member of my team did the same as well. 

I learned many new things about labor and culture and my comfort zones were tested during the trip. It shaped how I act today, in fact. My leader asked me to do a Bible study for the team one night–anyone who knows me knows I am a shy person. I prayed about it and gained a new confidence afterward. 

College is a time where you have to figure out your life and think about a career. If you travel during this time to do missions, it gives the Lord Jesus Christ a way to work through you and speak to you. Who knows–it could be a foundation for the rest of your life. 

*Note: this article expresses the ideas and opinions of the author or are not a reflection of the views of the Triangle or Bryan College as a whole.

Rylee Evans is a sophomore communications major with a digital media option and a biblical studies minor at Bryan College. She is from Pikeville, Tenn. and graduated from Bledsoe County High School. Rylee is on the women’s soccer team, and she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, hunting and fishing.