Mission trips are a regular part of spring break on Canada’s west coast.
Members of Living Hope CRC at a house they recently built in Mexico.
Close to 200 youth, young adults, and adults from nine British Columbia Christian Reformed churches will head out on mission trips this year, many of them having just returned from their adventures during spring break. That number doesn’t include more than 140 high school students who participated in trips organized by their Christian schools. About one-third of the larger Christian Reformed churches in British Columbia send out mission teams, a trend that is growing every year.
Adam Van Dop, youth pastor at Living Hope Christian Reformed Church in Abbotsford, explained why so many people want to be involved. “Churches are sending out teams of all ages not just because it’s the popular thing to do but because we have an earnest desire to affect change in the world, and for a chance to see something that is wrong made right, [whether it is] a family in need of a home or a church in desperate need of dedicated support or a school in need of repair or supplies.”
Teams range in size from a handful to more than 30 people. Many travel to Mexico and Central America; others go to countries as diverse as Ukraine, Ethiopia, and China. Some teams partner with larger organizations; others develop relationships with local communities and return year after year. The trips often involve some type of construction work as well as activities with local children.
People sometimes question the motivation for these mission trips. “The youth do certainly enjoy the adventure of the trip,” Van Dop said, “[but] when I do profession of faith interviews, nine out of 10 students refer to these trips in their testimonies of their faith journey. The church does benefit as a whole body as our entire community comes around this project. They get to see their money go to something tangible, and they get to hear story after story of how these trips have been pivotal moments.”