You’ve reached this page because either you are getting ready to come on a short mission trip or you are curious about how this works. Regardless of your intentions, thank you for your interest and I hope this page will make things clear. Hope for the Future ministry in Malawi has been operating since 1999 and missionaries Ovi & Lita Cornea (with their 3 children) have been on the field since 2009. The ministry is big and we need your help but since Malawian culture is so different than the Western one, some tips, rules and pieces of advice are needed in order to ensure your trip is successful and efficient. We want you to know where you’re coming, what’s expected of you and how to approach the ministry and the culture, so that your work for the Lord can be fulfilling and eternal.
Before you come.
Hope for the Future is a religious first and then humanitarian organization and our priority is the glory of God. We align our beliefs to The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (link here). We also believe in the authority of the local church and seek to assist local churches, that is why we require the following steps to be taken prior to your trip:
- Not a spiritual vacation. A mission trip should not have you in its center, but rather God. Do you know it is God’s will to come on this trip? Do you at least have a strong desire to serve Him?
- Not a spiritual kindergarden. All Christians should serve Christ everywhere. Are you already serving God at home? Are you already involved in one way or another in your church?
- Are you needed? Do the mission or the missionaries on the field actually need your help?
- Are you sent? Does your church, pastor/leaders know about your trip and are ready to send you?
These questions are by no means the only ones you need to ask yourself, but they are a good starting point. We want to make sure you are ready and the church thinks you are ready. We also require every new visitor to fill in an online “Personal Application Form”, while the pastor or the leader needs to fill in a “Reference Form” for you. The links to these forms can be provided upon request.
Once you are here.
We see it as our responsibility to make sure your trip is as efficient as possible, so we have put together some guidelines that you will need to follow:
- Pour into the missionary and the team, not “the locals”. This is by far the best way to be effective as a short-term missionary. Just think, missionaries are always there, always give, always spend themselves, they feel alone, they may be sick or burned out. Helping the team, you will ensure the entire ministry will continue to flourish.
- Seek to serve, not self-glory. We know those 10 days on the ground are hard, but we’ve been here for 10 years. It can be disheartening when you don’t even mention the years of work the team or the missionaries were doing, because you are too busy posting pictures with yourself handing out candies on Facebook.
- Give aid through the missionary. Despite all your good intentions, handing out stuff is never a good idea. Period. The missionary knows the who, the when and the how so always work with and through him.
- Be flexible. Malawian culture does not align to the Western time-table and that is perfectly fine. Your agenda may not happen. See what God’s agenda is.
- You are not in charge. Remember you come here to help and serve. Follow the lead of the person on the ground.
- Don’t promote the White Savior complex. Giving or promising things will only create unhealthy dependency and hurt the Gospel. Build authentic relationships.
- Ask, learn and respect the cultural norms. Wear that long skirt. Eat the strange food. Follow the rules even if you don’t understand them. Remember, the missionaries and the local team are the experts on the ground.
Again, this list is not exhaustive and you will probably learn a lot more on the field, but the point should be clear: Empty yourself and allow God to fill you and use you. A short-term mission trip can be an amazing experience or a major flop and the line between them is sometimes blurry. The missionary is there to help you out.
After you leave.
Ideally, you should have a plan in place before you arrive of how you can help the ministry long-term. Transform a short experience into a lifetime impact. Think beyond the short term hit and run.
- Follow through. Ask the missionary if there are things you can do after you return. The biggest impact you might have may very well be after you leave by being an advocate for their cause. Some ideas: do a fundraising, share about the ministry with a friend, sponsor the ministry monthly, sponsor a child, etc.
- Pray regularly and intently. Ask for prayer requests, share them with your church and pray on a regular basis. Missionaries need that. A lot.