Oh, social media! For many of us it feels like both a blessing and a curse – especially while we’re on a mission trip. It’s great staying connected with folks back home, but it’s easy to get lost in our phones and miss out on what God has for us.
What if instead of allowing it to become a distraction, we used it to our advantage? In the context of a mission trip, social media can be a powerful tool to give friends and family a glimpse of our experience in a way that encourages, inspires, and challenges them.
Here are some tips and ideas from our seasoned YWAM missionaries on taking advantage of these tools while we’re on the field.
“Using photography overseas is one of my favorite things to do. Not only does it build a bridge between the people you meet and the people back home who are curious about what your trip is really like, but it also opens so many doors to build friendships. In every single nation I have ever visited, children get incredibly excited when you whip out a camera to take their photo. The joy it brings them is indescribable! Why wouldn’t you want to use this tool to make a child’s day, and at the same time, pique the interest of someone who may be considering testing the waters of missions work?”
Use your words.
“Oh, how I would love to bring all my friends with me to do missions! More than anything, I want them to experience what it’s like and see God move. I want people to be able to imagine what it’s like to be in my shoes. I want them to see what my surroundings are, what kind of work I am a part of and what God is doing! My favorite way to do this is with a photo, but the truth is, it can only tell part of the story. You will know where I am and what it’s like, but you won’t get my perspective of what is actually happening. This is where I complete the post by writing a short story describing what the picture can’t quite communicate. This will usually be no more than three or four sentences. It’s easy to see, quick to read and simple to understand.”
“Take a 15 -30 second video that encapsulates your week. You’ve probably heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but nowadays people want a story, and videos help to convey that story. For example , if you’ve been flying for the last 2 days, get small clips and snippets that reflect that (sitting on the plane, up in the air, layovers, plane food, etc.).”
“I believe more people will watch a video than read a long post; it’s just easier! Doing a vlog (video blog) is a great way to let people know about your missions trip and what’s going on, especially by including clips of what is actually happening out on the field, rather than showing just your face.”
“I’ve seen people on a missions trip use social media as an escape from what’s going on in front of us. Whether it’s challenging situations, relationships that are hard, or being out of our comfort zone, if we’re not careful, we can waste hours scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. Put the phone down and allow yourself to engage with those around you, with the culture, and with the people God sent you to. Be present.”
– Gabe Smith
The internet is the new word of mouth. Let’s use it for the glory of God. Let’s be a voice to the voiceless, letting others catch a glimpse of God’s heart for the nations. Capture that moment when a life was forever changed and share it with those who weren’t there. Instead of describing your mission trip to people back home, show them the beauty and the need of the place you’re ministering to. You can take people there, all from the screen of their phone.