Short-Term Missions Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to be a member or regular attender of Redeemer?
Do I need to have any previous missions experience?
No. Some trips require specific skills or professional knowledge (such as jazz music or a medical background). Other than that, these trips are open to anyone who would like to apply.
What do you do on a missions trip?
Each trip is different so you will need to read through the descriptions to find out the specifics. This could involve using your God-given skills such as drawing on your financial background to lead business seminars or participating in a variety of activities like playing sports with kids at an orphanage.
What kind of preparation is provided?
Team preparation takes place over at least five weekly meetings leading up to the trip (potentially more depending on the nature of the trip). We will talk about support raising, prepare the programs we will be initiating, and in general team-build in order to serve as a unit. Attendance is required in order to build team unity and receive the necessary information & materials prior to your trip. Team members are also expected to be active participants in fundraising events, team socials and prayer meetings. Only a fraction of Redeemer members and attenders are able to go on mission trips each year, as a limited number of trips are offered. If you cannot make the commitment of attending the preparation sessions, we ask that you apply again another year.
What if I feel I have no relevant skills to serve on a Missions trip?
You do. God has blessed everyone with multiple giftings, skills and hobbies, and all can be used on a trip. What you can use on a mission trip might surprise you!
How do I pay for the trip?
Each team member has the opportunity to raise his or her own financial support in order to go on a missions trip. While this task may seem daunting, it is a unique opportunity to see God provide in ways that will strengthen the faith of those going on the trip. Each person will be thoroughly equipped and prepared with the knowledge of how to raise support. This is typically done through emails that ask people to contribute toward the trip, or through corporate matching gifts.
How is the cost determined?
Each team budget can contain 30 or more major expense categories. Some of these include airfare, vehicle rental and gasoline, housing costs, food, visas, training materials, ministry materials, travel & health insurance, construction materials, and much more. Every effort is made to minimize costs without jeopardizing the quality, effectiveness or safety of the ministry. It is usually $1000- $1300 plus the cost of the plane ticket.
Is financial support available from the church?
We have found that most of the time if prayer letters are sent out on schedule and at least 50 copies are mailed, all the funds come in. The church does not provide finances to help cover the amount you have to raise for the trip.
Are donor’s gifts tax-deductible?
Are gifts considered gifts to individual short-term missionaries?
Gifts are not considered gifts to individual short-term missionaries, nor gifts to specific trips in a given year, but rather gifts to a missions project (e.g. Johannesburg). This allows Redeemer the maximum flexibility to use the funds where most needed. Redeemer will typically try to use funds for the missions project where the funds were originally given (e.g. Johannesburg) either now, or in the future, but this is not always true. To cite one example, if a short-term missionary raises funds for the Johannesburg 2019 trip, but for some reason is unable to attend the trip, then Redeemer management could make a decision to redirect the funds to a future missions trip for that short-term missionary such as the Madagascar 2019 trip. If a short-term missionary can't attend the trip at all, then the funds will typically be used for other short-term missionaries on that trip. Also, in certain cirumstances when funds are raised in excess of the team's basic travel, lodging and meal expenses, Redeemer management may decide to reserve funds for a future trip, rather than grant large amounts of funds to overseas missionaries. IRS requirements prohibit returning donations to donors.
If the short-term missions team member is unable to go on the trip, then can the donations be returned to the donors?
If for some reason a team member is unable to go on the trip, the donations will be used to support the missions trip or other missions projects. Note that donations are made to the missions project and not to an individual short-term missions team member. Based on IRS regulations, in order for donations to be tax deductible, they must be irrevocable and non-refundable.
What expenses can be reimbursed?
A teammate is not allowed to control which expenses can be reimbursed from the funds raised. Funds raised well in excess of the funds needed cannot be directed by the teammate, but are under the direction and control of Redeemer. Coach class airfare to and from the missions site, and onsite meals and transporation are typically reimbursable when approved in advanced. Airfare for side trips and non-coach tickets are not reimbursable. Immunizations are not reimburseable, but a teammate can request a tax receipt for immunizations. Tranportation to and from the airport is reimbursable at up to $30 each way and teammates are encouraged to share transportation. In general teammates should seek email approval from their trip leader, prior to incurring an expense.
Are gifts to missions considered Board-Designated or Donor Restricted?
Gifts to Redeemer missions trips are considered Board-Designated gifts. This means that Redeemer management can decide how funds can be used in all of the various circumstances that may come up in mission trip planning. This could include using funds from this year's Johannesburg trip for various expenses related to the Johannesburg project such as a grant to a missions partner church in Johannesburg, or if fundraising goes very well, future Johannesburg needs. Board-Designated giving gives Redeemer management the ability to decide how to use missions funds in a way that works best for short-term missionaries, missions and the overall organization. In no circumstances are missions gifts Temporarily or Permanently Donor Restricted to a specific trip or a specific short-term missionary's expenses on that trip.
What if more money comes in for me than what I need?
Throughout this ministry you will function as part of a team. Your effectiveness is determined not just from an individual standpoint, but also as a team. Also, each person’s ability to raise funds varies depending on who they know, how many people they know, their ability to communicate effectively, and more. Therefore, since the goal is to fund the entire team, any monies given beyond what you will need will go to support other team members who are struggling with their funds. Finally, if more money comes in than is required by a team, the funds can go to assist other teams who are struggling.
What if less money comes in for me?
Sometimes God uses a serious lack of support as an indicator that a person should not go on a particular project. The guideline we follow is that a participant must have 100% raised 30 days before departure. If this does not occur, please discuss it with your team leader and you will be given the option of paying the difference or postponing your involvement. As previously mentioned, any surplus funds raised by other team members can go to help support team members who are under-supported.
If I decide to cancel my involvement in the trip, can I get my money back?
Donations to charities must be irrevocable and non-refundable, in order to be tax-deductible. Therefore, donations cannot be refunded or returned if you cannot go on the trip. Donated funds stay in the short-term missions fund and are used for your trip, or other Redeemer sponsored trips, or for other Redeemer purposes. If you cancel your involvement after travel documents are purchased (airfare, visas, etc.) you will be expected to cover all of the fees, penalties and losses incurred.
How many people will be on the short-term missions team?
Typically anywhere from 5 to 25 people participate.
Will I need shots?
Most of the places we go do recommend immunizations. In some instances we may go to a country that “requires” immunization against a particular disease. If an immunization is required, you must have proof of that immunization to enter the country or to return to the United States. For the most up to date information on what is needed for the country you will visit, contact cdc.gov or a local travel clinic. Your team leader will provide this information as well.
What is a visa?
A visa is an entry document required by a foreign government in addition to your passport. Not all foreign governments require a visa. Your team leader will check the foreign entry requirements for the country you plan to visit. A visa may be stamped on your passport or a paper visa may be affixed to your passport. If a visa is required, we’ll provide the appropriate visa application forms for you to complete. Most visa applications require two or three passport-size photos as well. The visa fees for each team member are included in the team budget. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please make sure that the team leader and the Missions Department know this information. It may mean a different visa process for you. If you do not have a passport, we recommend that you begin the process immediately. See complete passport information from the U.S. Department of State. Most countries require that travelers’ passports not expire within six months of the end of travel. Please check your passport immediately. If it is set to expire within six months of the end of this trip, please begin the process to renew it now.