International (MNN) — Starting to work on New Year resolutions for 2018? Add missions to your list. Ken Ivins of AMG International says there are plenty of short-term trips you could be a part of in the coming year.
“We secure teams from the United States and take them to various different AMG ministries around the world, and we work with our nationals there and enable the people on this side to build relationships and connections using whatever means is necessary,” Ivins says.
There’s truly something for everyone in the wide array of specialized trips coming next year. Take your pick from evangelism, leadership and pastoral training, construction, medicine, dental care, camping trips, childcare, sports camps, and more. The type of team AMG sends changes depending on the needs and the country.
Ivins says it is because they want to ensure that short-term missions is done well. “If you have Americans or people going and partnering with someone else, a national, and enabling them and encouraging them to do their ministry to their people in their way, if we’re stepping alongside them that way, both sides benefit,” he says.
For him, it’s about asking what someone needs, not telling them what they need.
“We take resources, we take financing, we step alongside the nationals and we enable them to do something they can’t do by themselves because we have a larger number of people, or we are able to build relationships and just encourage them,” Ivins says. “We build them up and remind them they’re not alone in their ministry.”
And doing missions well can change lives. It has shown Ivins that God is not “…just the God of my church or the God of my neighborhood. I’m challenged in the way I think about what ministry is and who God is.”
As for the team members, Ivins says most of them come back ready to get involved in their churches, help local ministries in their own communities, and fund trips and missionaries heading out around the world. Some even consider going into full-time ministry.
It makes an impact on nationals, too. “I’ve seen kids that have nothing and have no hope gain hope for the future, whether it’s through their education or through the funding they get for their food and clothing, but most of all, it’s through their introduction to Jesus Christ,” Ivins says.
Interested in joining a team? There are already over 20 trips planned that are based on what local believers have asked for, and destinations vary from Guatemala, Haiti, and Mexico to Uganda, Cyprus, Thailand, and Costa Rica.
AMG is also offering a unique opportunity to pastors. “In 2018, if a senior or missions pastor brings a team on one of our trips, we’ll cover that pastor’s cost,” Ivins says. He believes the experience of a trip like this can help a pastor’s discipleship work, personal life, missions focus, and impact on a congregation.
Ivins recognizes that joining a missions team isn’t always an easy decision. “We love to be comfortable, and so sometimes what’s holding us back is the fear of the unknown, wondering ‘What am I [going to] be eating? Where I am going to be staying? How will I tolerate such a long flight?’” he says.
“But when you get your feet on the ground, when you’re holding the hand of a little child who’s looking up at you and you’re having the opportunity to share the Gospel with kids and share Christ with them through your actions and your words, when you have the opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with nationals who are seeking to reach their people with Jesus Christ, all those hardships just aren’t anything.
“If you wanna see your life changed and challenged and transformed– if you want to see your life used to transform the lives of others– then I would say one of these opportunities is one of the greatest opportunities you could possibly take.”