You glance out of the taxi and she catches your eye, motioning her dirty hand to her mouth and then holding it out to you. He sits there on the sidelines of your soccer camp, too hungry to play. Tired eyes peer out the window of a broken shanty wrapped in a fraying blue tarp.
In that moment, what do you know? How do you feel? What do you believe? What can you DO?
Before that moment, how can you prepare to answer those questions and prepare to encounter poverty?
One of the key benefits for any Short-Term Mission participant is gaining a greater understanding of God’s world, especially with regard to the physical and spiritual poverty of the people you will meet. Hopefully, another outcome is that the participant’s heart has an expanded desire to see all people living in the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One way to prepare your STM participants for that transformation is to gain greater awareness of the needs of the world before you go.
A visit to Poverty Encounter or a live, virtual Poverty Encounter tour is a rich way to start your team’s journey even before you pack your bags. Sponsored by Children’s Hunger Fund and located in Sylmar, California (northern Los Angeles County, Poverty Encounter is a multi-sensory experience that plunges visitors into the lives of children impacted by poverty. Guests will visit a home inside a dump in Guatemala City, walk the earthquake-damaged streets of Haiti, feel the glare of a brickyard owner in Nepal, and visit the sewers of Romania. Interviews with pastors in the United States remind visitors that poverty impacts millions of families, even in America.
Guests of Poverty Encounter will be challenged with information about the root causes and realities of poverty in the lives of families around the world. They will rejoice to see how God is at work through the faithfulness of local churches delivering hope to meet the physical and spiritual needs of children with food and the Good News of Jesus.
Whether in-person or online, a Poverty Encounter facilitator will walk with each tour as videos of children sharing their stories draw the guests into their lives. The facilitator will work with your missions team to ask good questions, share additional information about poverty in various situations, and guide the team through activities each will be thinking about long after the tour is over.
On-site visitors will have the opportunity to complete their tour by volunteering in the Children’s Hunger Fund Distribution Center. As teams weigh and pack simple, nutritious food for churches to distribute around the world, members will be confronted with both their own blessings and their ability to be engaged in delivering hope.
Your team will find their minds impacted with information about material and spiritual poverty, have their hearts touched with the needs of the world, and employ their hands to serve. Let us help you prepare for what God will do in and through your team! To book an onsite visit or a virtual tour, check in at povertyencounter.org.
For more resources on Short Term Missions Training, go to the resources page on this blog to download Leader and Team training recommendations.