The goal of Global Encounters is to disciple young people to be in love with their Savior, passionate about serving Him, and dedicated to obediently following Him whatever the cost. The young people who catch a hold of this vision will go on to become the dynamic Christians who will influence our culture and world for Christ. Whatever walk of life they choose as an adult, whether fulltime ministry or secular career, these are the type of people whose lives will draw others to Christ and who will raise a second generation to follow in their footsteps serving Christ.
While only a part of the process in creating such dedicated Christians, short-term international ministry trips can do much to kindle a love for Christ, a passion for service, and a readiness to obey the Lord. While on mission trips, young people are pushed outside of their comfort zone. They must confront difficulties and challenges personally and as a group. Because of this, they are forced to rely on God in ways many of them have never experienced before. They begin to see Jesus as living, real, and powerful, not because they have heard Him described as such, but because they have seen it for themselves.
Most Christian young people in America have grown up believing in God and believing in the principles in the Bible, but many of them lack opportunities to put their head knowledge into practice in challenging situations. They have heard about Jesus, but they have had little personal experience of Him. This is one reason why overwhelming passion and commitment to Christ are not evident in the lives of many of these teenagers and young adults. Passion and commitment are not something one can manufacture. They are a response to something that is worthy of one’s total dedication. When young people see who Jesus really is, and experience the joy of serving Him with their whole heart, they will naturally respond with passion and commitment.
To accomplish these discipleship goals in the lives of those who participate in Global Encounters mission teams, we have set several priorities for each team:
- We provide high quality team leaders whose lives exemplify the commitment to Christ that we are encouraging in the team members. They model for their team, on a day-by-day basis, what it means to love Christ and live a life under His control. In addition, our team leaders have a love for people, a love for international ministry, and experience in mentoring younger Christians. They experience the mission trip side-by-side with their team members, encouraging, directing, and helping them on a personal level.
- We make sure each team will be involved in hands-on, life-to-life ministry that will push them to work hard and give of themselves sacrificially. Our mission trips are not vacations. We bring the team members in contact with people whose needs (physical and/or spiritual) are overwhelming. This challenges them to develop a heart of compassion, to see life outside the realm of their own wants and needs, and to learn to relate to people with love and boldness.
- We require a very high standard of Christian conduct from our team members in their dress, their attitude toward authority, and their relationships with each other. This creates a team atmosphere that encourages mature behavior. The exemplary conduct of past teams has also opened many doors of ministry and earned a hearing in unusual places. However, these requirements are balanced by team leaders who are more concerned for the hearts of their team members than with outward actions. When problems arise, team leaders help the young people see beyond outward conduct to focus on their relationship with Christ and how that effects their daily living out of Christianity.