In my many years of experience of recruiting team members for our mission trips to Russia, I have had many people share their fears with me as they pertain to the mission trip. There are lots of things about a trip to Russia that can cause people to be fearful. I will list a few here. If yours is not listed hear and you are considering NOT going because of that fear, please write to me and give me a chance to help you overcome that fear. If you are hear reading about our ministry then it is a good chance that God brought you to this web site because HE wants you on this mission trip.
The Bible says in Romans 8:15-17 (NASB)
15For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
The above are just a few of the fears prospective team members face. Let me address them if I may.
Ocean Flight: Yes it is a long flight over the ocean, but rarely does a flight ever crash. In my life time there have only been a handful of flights that crashed over the ocean but there are literally thousands of trans-oceanic flights each day. You are more likely to be killed on the interstate in your “safe” little car than you are to be killed in a plane crash going to and from Russia. Its hard to cuddle up to statistics, but they are dramatically in your favor. You don’t really expect to be struck by lightning, but you have a 1 in a 1,000,000 chance each year of being struck. Your odds of dying in a crash or far LESS likely.
One final thought. If you have a profound fear of flying, DO NOT CONSIDER THIS TRIP. First overcome your fear of flying, with the help of the Holy Spirit and then come. Your condition is a serious one and needs to be addressed first, so that you can serve God in Russia in peace.
Language Barrier: Well yes there is a barrier, but you will be with 10-20 other people who have the same problem (this is the misery loves company technique for making you feel better). However, we will have one interpreter for every two Americans so you will always have a voice when you need one.
A Bunch of American Strangers: Yes and each and every one of them will feel the same way (again misery loves company). Well, not all of them. Those who have been before will be working hard to make you feel comfortable and loved by the team. One of the things I stress, over and over with the locals who go with me si that their primary job is to make the non-locals and the interpreters feel that they are a part of a family. So shortly after the trip begins I promise you will feel like you are amongst family.
What Could I Possibly Do?: For starters, everyone we have ever taken on these trips has attended if not served in a VBS. So from the “git go” you will be able to do all kinds of things in the VBS and invariably you will volunteer for things you haven’t done before and be stretched a little.
Cold Weather: For those people who fear going to Russia because of the cold weather this is an easy objection to overcome. When it’s cold at home what do you do? Do you wander around outside in your bare feet? I don’t think so. We will teach you what to wear to protect from the cold, and guess what? When you are at home and it’s cold you don’t spend your time outside, and neither will we. Most of the time you will be inside baking in the apartments or other buildings or in busses or on trains all of which are usually warm, they have to be or people would die.
Strange Food: Yes there is strange food in Russia, that is, if you consider potatoes, tomatoes, rice and gravy and chicken to be strange foods. Certainly there are some strange foods and you will be offered some at some point or other. Taste it! If you don’t like it spit it out on you host and scream “What is that crap?” or you could be a little more polite and say “Humm, that tastes a bit like my grandmothers dish. “ I and then just sort of move some of it around on the plate and put a piece of bread over it so it is not so obvious that you think it is disgusting. Every culture, even ours, has food you don’t like and food you do like. You will have to pick and choose, but just be polite. Take a little at first and if you don’t like it, you have less to hide under the bread. By the way, the bread is wonderful.
What if I get Lost: We have never had anyone get lost. RULE NUMBER 1: NEVER GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT AN INTERPRETER.
Being Away from Home in a Strange Environment: This is addressed in the Survival Guide. This is really culture shock. In all likelihood you will experience culture shock. For a short period of time you may become depressed and think, "Man this is the worst decision I ever made and I am stuck here for two weeks." Well, all I can say is when we first started going we had culture shock and we were stuck there for 4 weeks. The way to handle it is to let us know. We can then make sure that you are around people who have been before and they can help you overcome the shock. Trust me, it will only last for a day or two and then you will be fine, if you will ask for help. You will be busy serving and being served and people will be loving on you helping you to overcome your culture shock and they will more than likely not even know it.
I realize that God convicts many people to go on mission trips who have fears. This is normal so don't think you are the first or only person on the trip with fears. We have all had to come face to face with our fears and with Jesus' help we will overcome them. After all, we are overcomers you know.
All of the above is my most spiritual way of handling the topic and what follows is my most humorous way. If you are still reading and you are still fearful, then in the words of my lovely bride, "You are going to just have to put on your big girl panties and deal with it."
Will you do just that and join us. We hope so and we hope this page has helped or at least made you laugh. Come and join us on the Great Adventure.